May 20, 2012

Review: Tomorrow Land

Tomorrow Land
Mari Mancusi
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia

Four years after the zombie apocalypse, Paige is released from her family's locked down bomb shelter into the dessicated remains of her hometown. Her mission: meet up with her father and his fellow scientists at Disney World to help rebuild society. Outfitted with razors that extend from her fingertips and some ocular implants that do so much more than night vision, Paige should have no problem getting passed the undead. That is, until she has a chance meeting with her first love, Chris Parker, now known as Chase. Chase still hasn't quite gotten over her ditching him during the outbreak. Paige hasn't gotten over putting duty before love. Will they find love again post-apocalypse?

First, I'm going to touch on the split chapter element as it seems to be dividing reviewers. The book is set up with chapters alternating between past and present; before the apocalypse and after. Some have found this bothersome, awkward, and confusing, but  I thought this was a brilliant way to tell the story and loved how the juxtaposition of the two timelines allowed Chase and Paige's back story to unfold within the action. This kept the book fast paced and made for a truly enjoyable read. 

I loved the combination of strong love story and zombie action. Mancusi doesn't shy away from the darker elements of this genre, but still manages to keep the tone intrinsically young adult. These two are still teenagers trying to figure out who they are while they fight to survive. You even get the fairly annoying relationship tug-of-war aspect so common in YA fiction. A bit of this is necessary to keep the story moving, but it got to be too drawn out for my taste. The character development was so-so for Paige, but quite a bit better for Chase. 

In the chapters concerning past events, Chase is the scraggly, soft hearted nerd who just wants a shot at the pretty popular girl. In the chapters concerning present events, he has been shaped by the apocalypse into a harder, more world weary version of himself. Obviously this works for a number of reasons, not only has he grown out of his scrawny body, but also his naive view of the world. I even enjoyed the fact that Marcusi was brave enough to tackle teenage drug addiction. She blended it well into the plot and made it one of Chase's eventually redeemable flaws. Overall, the development of his character was very satisfying. However the one thing that really bugged me was I felt like some of his sentimentality wasn't realistic for a nineteen year old boy.  All three of my brothers are around this age and let me tell you, when daydreaming they would not be imagining their girlfriend/love interest as a Disney Princess. The imagery I got out of the last third of the book from Chase concerning Paige felt very out of character for a guy his age and broke me out of the rhythm the book had going. It felt much too feminine and not in sync with the more realistic tone of his thoughts from earlier on in the story. To me, this just felt like a rushed effort to tie together the whole Disney themed undertone of the novel, which while kinda fun at first felt a bit out of place in a story that had started out so gritty. 

What I loved about this book was the technology aspect. Paige's razors and ocular implants made her a unique and kick-ass heroine. The zombie origin wasn't exactly unique. The zombie virus is spread by a vaccine that should have been a cure for a disease that has been plaguing mankind, in this case HIV/AIDS, but instead backfires turning everyone to mindless, flesh eating monsters. Cure gone wrong has been done quite a bit, but the implementation of it all was done very well. 

The Final Verdict: 
A very sweet post-apocalyptic love story, awesome tech, and fast-paced story make this a quick and enjoyable read, but the occasional lightness in tone was more awkward than complimentary. Tomorrow Land will please fans of fluffy YA fiction, but may not appeal to more hard-core fans of the post-apocalyptic/dystopian genres.

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