Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Tomorrow Land by Mari Mancusi

I received this book from NetGalley courtesy of the publisher.

Title: Tomorrow Land
Author: Mari Mancusi
Publisher: NLA Digital
Target Audience: YA
Genre: Dystopia (zombies)
Length: 281 pages

Story: Can true love survive the end of the world?

Imagine finding your first love, only to be ripped apart by the apocalypse. Peyton Anderson will never forget the day she was forced to make a choice--between her family--and Chris Parker, the boy she'd given her heart. Now, four years later, as she steps from the fallout shelter and into a dead and broken world, he's the only thing on her mind.

All Chris "Chase" Parker wanted was to take Peyton away and keep her safe from harm. But he waited for hours in the rain on judgment day and she never showed--breaking his heart without ever telling him why.

Now the two of them have been thrown together once again, reluctant chaperones to a group of orphan children in a post-apocalyptic world where the dead still walk...and feed. As they begin their pilgramage to the last human outpost on Earth, can they find a way to let go of old hurts and find the love they lost--all while attempting to save what's left of the human race?

Thoughts and impressions: This book uses a sort of duel narration. There are two storylines that follow the characters: one as their society starts to break apart due to a plague that transforms some of the sufferers into zombies; and the other is four years later after society has completely broken down  with only a handful of survivors left… and the zombies, of course. Though it was certainly interesting to observe the factors that led to the downfall of the current society (the book is set about 25 years from now) – something that I often bemoan in other books because I find myself wanting to know why and how things changed to become what they are – in this particular set up I was always far more interested in the storyline set in the ‘now’. Sometimes I toyed with the idea of skipping chapters set in the ‘then’ but in the end I didn’t give in to temptation.

Why was this the case? Well, I suspect that this was because a) the events in the ‘now’ posed more of a threat than those in the ‘then’. Plus, there were enough hints in the ‘now’ narrative that I was able to draw a fairly clear picture of what was to come in the ‘then’ storyline well before events reached that point.

At the start of novel, especially in the first chapter as the scene was originally being set, there were a few things that didn’t strike me as being in the story’s best interests:
- First off, there was a fairly heavy reliance on pop culture from our time, such as references to Twilight (which I consider especially dangerous to use in a story as you audience will either lap up your reference, or be annoyed by it. I’m in the latter group. Plus, Edward’s described as a brooding hero… he gave me the creeps!), Ghostbusters, etc.
- Secondly, the teen culture there is based on the government having made sex illegal to any who haven’t received an injection making them immune to AIDS. I don’t believe for a moment that this is even remotely possible. Sex is an innate drive within almost all humans. Over the centuries there have been many attempts to control sexual encounters between humans and they have all failed.

On top of this, the romance was so angsty that it got frustrating rather than endearing. A lot of the interactions in the ‘now’ between Peyton and Chase were based on mutual misunderstandings that added layers to the wall of angst built up between them. The sort of thing where Peyton claims Chase is avoiding her and moping then Chase claims that Peyton is avoiding him by surrounding herself with the children. There was the whole reason behind Chase’s addiction to painkillers as well, which the reader discovers at the very end of the story, that I found incredibly short-sighted to say Chase had lived for four years in a world falling apart, had witnessed more death than any teen ever should… and yet his excuse for seeking relief in painkillers was incredibly flimsy. Just my opinion, of course.

What’s more, to say that they were two nineteen-year-olds travelling with a pack of children in a zombie-infested landscape, their trip from North Carolina to Florida was extremely uneventful. They only had a couple of periodic run ins with zombies – usually serving to advance the angst-ridden romance rather than furthering the plot; and none of the kids ever kicked up a big fuss or even made things difficult in smaller, more annoying ways. To say they were between the ages of about 6 and 15, all eight of the children were well-behaved cherubs rather than normal children. Only a couple of them are really featured while the others are relegated to the background fuzz of not having distinct characters. Not to mention, when they’re first introduced, Peyton observes that there are as many ethnicities as there are children… and yet three of the eight are triplets – how does that work out?

I felt quite sorry for Peyton, for what she was going through. Her father had used her to fit his own visions, leaving her entirely within his power. But at the same time, I always felt that she could have made things a lot easier on herself had she just opened her mouth and shared some of her secrets rather than yo-yoing between keeping Chase at arm’s length and plastering herself up against him.

When I was reading the book, I was fairly interested in finding out what was going on and getting to the bottom of the mystery presented and I have to take this into account. I actually liked the plot when it was being drowned out by the breakdown of communication between the two main characters. This won’t be the book for everyone, though, and if you don’t like post-apocalyptic angst-driven teenage romances then this won’t be the book for you.

Style: I did have some issues with the style but they were personal preference. When Chris was first introduced as Chase, though, there were a couple of times when the wrong name was used for no discernible reason.

Final verdict: This is one of those books where I was invested in it enough as I was reading it but afterwards its faults were magnified. I feel it’s one I’d probably rate 2.5 but as I don’t do halves I’ll round up to 3 stars.

Extra notes: There is some bad language present. Sex is not.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, two-and-a-half/three stars. I consider that to be kind of low, but I'd still read the sequel. This book is coming at me highly recommended by other sources, and I think I'll read it. I mean, look at the cover! And I love the name Chase (Chris isn't bad either). Zombies are usually not my type of books, but there's always a first for everything. The Dearly, Departed series is supposed to be a good zombie series as well. Anyway. Thanks for such a thorough, amazing review!!!

    Alyssa Susanna


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