Friday, November 13, 2015

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

genre: young adult (caveat: lots of swears and sex)

In Seattle, four teens are slogging through the mess that is high school when that bright star in the sky is confirmed to be an asteroid that has a good chance of colliding with earth.

Begin apocalypse readiness.

Each of these four characters have their issues, of course.  There's the perfect-girl-gone-bad, the stoner musician, the artsy girl who sleeps around, the basketball star with a heart of gold - while they all slip around inside their stereotypes, they definitely still are stereotypes, which is a bit of a bummer.  However, I will say, the writing in this book (while FULL of swears, full), is pretty amazing.  I like that as we go from chapter to chapter we switch characters and go back in time JUST a bit, seeing the previous scene from a different point of view.  That was awesome.  As you can imagine, it's a dark story - with that existential countdown looming over you head and its interesting to see how differently people handle the dread of coming doom - some parts are pretty violent.  While there are no actual graphic sex scenes, sex is a huge component of these teens' lives - how often they've had it, will they have it before the end of the world, can they take it from someone by force or give it as a gift?  All of that. Definitely a treatise on teenage sexuality, and I can't say I always agreed with the message but every once and a while someone would hit on an idea that rang true to me.

I REALLY liked the ending, surprisingly.  For a minute I felt a bit cheated but all the text in the last few chapters felt so purposeful, so real and like it was trying to get even ME to think a bit deeper, that it made complete sense. One quote at the end felt particularly poignant and I'm still thinking about it, about the idea that we just never get to pick what happens to us no matter WHAT, come asteroid or cancer or car accident or one true love.  What we get to actually pick from the universe is so small that when we've found something good, we'd better hold on tight.

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