Author: Tommy Wallach
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Australia)
From the publisher:
Before Ardor, we let ourselves be defined by labels - the athlete, the outcast, the slacker, the overachiever. But then we all looked up and everything changed. They said the asteroid would be here in two months. That gave us two months to leave our labels behind. Two months to become something bigger than what we'd been, something that would last even after the end. Two months to really live.
My first impression of We All Looked Up was that it was The Breakfast Club meets Armageddon, and while that didn't change much as the book went on, it became so much more.
Wallach takes the high school stereotypes - jock, princess, slacker, artsy/bohemian, and develops them into fully fleshed characters who are not quite what you'd expect.
The story is told from the viewpoint of the four main characters as we see their reaction to the news that a Near Earth Object, nicknamed Ardor, has a 66.6% chance of hitting the Earth and ending life as we know it.
Peter is the star of the basketball team with the perfect girlfriend, but he's starting to wonder what life after high school will look like, and whether the path he's heading down is really the one he wants.
Eliza is the arty girl who buries her sadness over her home life by going out, getting drunk and engaging in a series of one night stands.
Anita seems to be the perfect princess heading off to a top College, but her dream is not that of her parents.
Andy is a slacker and drummer in a metal band, but underneath all his not caring is a poet who cares very much indeed.
The alternating viewpoints work really well and each character has a distinctive voice.
The chapters are structured so that each one counts down the time to Ardor's possible impact with earth. As the asteroid gets closer, society starts to break down. Who can be bothered going to work when the world's about to end? Looting, riots and martial law all follow the announcement of Ardor's imminent arrival, but the four characters we follow just want to find out who they really are before the end. And put on an awesome concert to really go out in style.
These characters are so much more than the stereotypes they represent and we really grow to care about them and their fate. They have to battle their families, school, local law enforcement, wannabe gangsters, and at times each other, to make it to the concert at the end of the world.
You'll have to read it to find their ultimate fate, but what you'll also find is a funny, heartbreaking, surprisingly philosophical novel that is well worth spending time with. Keep some tissues handy, I cried buckets.
Tommy Wallach has shown he's an author to watch. We All Looked Up is an accomplished debut. Go read it!