Monday, September 14, 2015

Audiobook Review: We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

Title: We All Looked Up
Author: Tommy Wallach
Narrator: Hannah Dunne, Sarah Steele, Seth Numrich, Peter Vack
Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Add to Goodreads

Before the asteroid 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 it 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. 

We All Looked Up immediately caught my eye, not only with it's really unique cover, but also with its pre-apocalyptic setting, which I don't think I've ever actually seen. Sure, I've read tons of post-apocalyptic books, but one set in the days before the actual apocalypse when everyone knows what's coming? Wow! This book had so much potential and I really expected to be completely blown away.

The story is told from the perspectives of four different characters who all go to the same high school and represent several stereotypes. Each character is definitely unique and I can appreciate the attempt at diversity here. Unfortunately the stereotypes weren't dispelled. In fact, kind of the opposite happens. The "slut" has sex with random men to make them feel better (really) and Peter, the "good guy" is ridiculously good to the point of not being believable. Still, the characters were decent and I felt like I got to know a good deal about all of them.

My main problem with We All Looked Up is the events themselves. I'm pretty sure the whole purpose of this book (in addition to its failed attempt at dispelling stereotypes) is basically "you only live once," or some variation of that. When these characters find out that they have a 66.6% of being hit by an asteroid, they all make comments about wanting to live to the fullest in their last few weeks on earth. Despite that, they all make some really weird decisions.

Anita decides to run away from home and live with her slacker friend, Andy, for whatever reason. Eliza decides to start a blog. Peter... breaks up with his girlfriend and hangs out with his sister? I just don't know. The gangsters do gang things, the hippies do hippie things. Lots of kids get thrown in jail for no good reason... It was just a big, weird mess.

Obviously, I can't be sure what I'd do if I found out I was probably going to die in a few weeks, but I really think I'd do something a lot more fun. I think there would be a lot of impromptu mega-vacations and I really don't think the majority of the world would be sitting on their thumbs waiting for it to happen. I also don't believe that basically everyone would be thrown in jail for no reason.

One thing I can confidently say is that Tommy Wallach is a beautiful writer, and I think this is probably where his background in songwriting pays off. His prose is lyrical and I really enjoyed listening to it being read by the narrator. I did feel like there was probably a little bit more profanity than was needed, though. I also really loved the mood of this book. I could feel the dread of the impending (possible) doom from the moment they first noticed the "star" in the distance. I liked that some of humanity sort of came together before the end of the world.

My last problem with this is the ending. At about 50% through this book I suddenly realized that I knew how this book would probably end and I hoped against all odds that I was wrong, but I wasn't. I understand why the author might have ended it this way, but I didn't care for it. I just wanted more.

Overall, this book did have a few things that I liked, but ultimately the bad outweighed the good. Stereotypical characters and unrealistic actions left a little too much to be desired. The concept itself had a lot of potential and I was really hoping for more. I heard that the rights for a film had been purchased and I'd definitely give this one another chance on the big screen!

°o°  Notes on the Audiobook  °o°
I loved the narration style this book used! It's not all that common to have a different voice actor for each character so I really appreciated how much work went into making each of them unique. I loved all of the narrators for this book and would definitely pick up another audiobook by any of them!