|Title: Tomorrow Land
Author: Mari Mancusi
Cover Art: N/A
Genre: Dystopian YA
Awful – I had to force myself to finish it. Fatally flawed on multiple levels.
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?
Love in a post-apocalyptic world is a concept that draws me in, and the description of TOMORROW LAND conjured up the thrills and dangers of ENCLAVE and AFTERTIME. Unfortunately, in TOMORROW LAND, that seed of an interesting story was buried under a clunky narrative device, melodramatic plotting, and characters that never rose above caricature. Though young readers may enjoy the concept without realizing that anything is missing, the decadent attitudes portrayed by Mancusi’s future teens aren’t particularly YA appropriate. Perhaps smiting all the sexually active people was supposed to redeem this fact (as per horror movie rules), but that device had me rolling my eyes.
TOMORROW LAND rolls out in alternating chapters, jum0ping from a decadent, tech-driven 2030 to the post-apocalypse ravaged world of the future. The pre-disaster chapters were slow-moving, focusing on Peyton’s teenage drama and the apocalypse’s beginnings, and were a constant drag on the book’s momentum. These chapters were riddled with odd pop-culture references to our own world (that they explained *every* time), painfully slow and improbable investigations into a mysterious illness, and Peyton and Chris awkwardly falling in love. I would have much preferred to focus on the more thrilling immediacy of zombie fighting and survival, and those chapters were all that got me through the book. Eventually, however, even the global apocalypse was wrapped up with an overly convenient explanation that was both trite and annoying. I shouldn’t have been surprised, as Chris’s substance abuse problem had already been a similar source of cheap drama and convenient resolution.
As a younger reader, just a titillating plot could be enough for me to love a book. TOMORROW LAND certainly has very romantic bones, and Peyton’s development from an insecure girl longing to a comic book heroine would definitely have charmed me (though I would have ignored Peyton’s final transformation as a huge step backwards). Present day, however, there’s nothing in TOMORROW LAND that Sophie Littlefield hasn’t done much, much better in the Aftertime series, from substance abuse to dystopian zombies, and Mancusi’s watered down YA version suffered terribly by comparison.