Because there's a 66.6% chance that in two months, an asteroid named Ardor will crash into Earth and destroy all life as we know it.
Yes, I'm a sucker for end-of-the-world tales and depressing stories alike, so I had to nab this book for myself despite the somewhat cringey summary inside the jacket cover. I expected Tommy Wallach to slap me in the face with overdone, false stereotypes of high schoolers. I suppose in a way, I thought correctly.
But within each character, I found a part of myself. I found familiar fears and dreams that I didn't know could apply to a jock, or a druggie, or a hipster photographer. Not to mention, these kids are real. They make dumb, selfish decisions—the same decisions we make every single day—but they're never so dumb that they're unrealistic, or especially frustrating. These characters become real and alive with each turn of a page.
To start, Wallach had a very minor character called Jess. Jess was a FTM transgender character. While the pronouns stayed consistent throughout the book, I felt like there lacked a certain sensitivity with the topic. With every mention of Jess came a reminder of his transition ("Jess-who-used-to-be-a-girl"), and I feel like that made it more taboo than it had to be. While rather unfortunate that it might be realistic for some high schoolers to view trans people as taboo, I feel like Wallach should have been more responsible with his writing in general: if the characters can't demonstrate a full acceptance of trans people, then the writing itself should. In this case, the writing didn't.
I'm getting into *spoiler* territory when I say those love triangles were wack. Peter likes Stacy and Eliza, and Eliza likes Peter but also maybe Andy, and Andy likes Eliza but wait... maybe he likes Anita because she sort of likes him? The only romantic relationship that made sense to me was Anita and Andy's. It felt wrong for Eliza and Peter to get together, as much as I wanted them together in the beginning of the book. Why it felt wrong, I don't know. Maybe it was right for them to get together, but only because it wouldn't be unrealistic for two people to think they were meant to be with an asteroid hanging over their heads. But I feel like they deserved more than each other, more than what they thought they deserved the most.
Speaking of shallow relationships, let's talk about shallow girls! A few reviewers on Goodreads had a bone to pick with Wallach and his representation of women. I disagree. Are these girls sensitive and pretentious and attention-hungry? Yes, in some cases, they are. But are they strong and self-reliant and smart? Yes. A girl can have a boyfriend and still be more than someone's girlfriend. A girl can follow a stereotype and still be different and complex. There are Elizas in the world, along with the Anitas and the Miserys. It's not fair to say these characters are one-sided just because you can't see past the stereotypes they happen to fulfill. It's not fair to say these characters are boring just because they're not you.
And if you're interested, Tommy Wallach produced an album inspired by the book. You can download his songs at his Bandcamp by clicking the image below, or you can listen to the album playlist on YouTube by clicking here.