Reading level: Young Adult
Publisher: NLA Digital
Release date: March 8th 2012
Reviewed by: Christine
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 pilgrimage 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?
Tomorrow Land totally took me by surprise. While I didn’t have it on the radar at all before I stumbled upon it on Netgalley, I ended up really loving it.
Mari Mancusi’s latest dystopian novel tells the story of two teenagers who survive a plague that has wiped out the majority of the population and try to make a living in a new world filled with zombies and the dangerous virus.
Tomorrow Land alternately tells the story set in the present (the post-apocalyptic world) and flashes back four year to the past, when Peyton and Chase fell in love during the beginnings of the plague. Still, the two different timelines are interwoven, as the part set before the apocalypse provides necessary explanations for what’s going on after the apocalypse.
Peyton and Chase are remarkable protagonists, great, in depth and deftly written. Both of them are flawed, Peyton physically and Chase as a character. Those flaws certainly add to their credibility as characters in my opinion.
Peyton’s father has implanted her with retractable razors in her fingers (kind of like Wolverine) and some kind of ocular lens that upgrades her vision and turns her eyes silver. Like any other teenage, she is very self-conscious because of that. She constantly questions whether Chase might still find her attractive. I like that Mari Mancuso has written a heroine with a flaw that is so common for female teenagers, even though the reason for her doubts is highly unusual. Thus, it’s even easier to identify with Peyton and easier to imagine a catastrophe like the one in Tomorrow Land might actually happen. Aside from that, Peyton is incredibly strong and determined, considering her situation. She has to be, since Chase is the one who needs more help than her.
The plague and all the deaths and tragedy have left their mark on Chase. The only way he can deal with the loss of loved ones and people close to him is by tuning it down by taking pills. He is in a kind of downward cycle: he tries to be responsible, screws up, needs more pills and screws up again. Not that I condone drug abuse in any way, but like I mentioned above, I think this flaw sets him apart from the often too perfect YA heroes. Still, the addiction stands between him and Peyton, making a relationship that is not easy to begin with even harder. They have to overcome a lot of difficulties, problems and misunderstandings, yet, the way all this is written by Mari Mancusi makes it very easy for the readers to empathize with them.
Another really remarkable character is Peyton’s father. Considered a lunatic before the plague he was one of the few people who foresaw the horrors to come and therefore, began preparing his family and especially Peyton for things to come.
Part of what made Tomorrow Land such an impressive read for me was to experience how different groups of survivors dealt with the aftermath of the plague. Mari Mancusi’s book shows in an incredibly gripping, realistic and disturbing way how humans can adapt to almost anything and will still stick to their true nature, which can be good in some cases and very bad in others. One of the elements that I found particularly disturbing and heartbreaking was that even though Chase and his brother made a huge effort to raise the kids as normally as possible, they barely reacted when someone died, which illustrates how common death is for them.
The plague itself was realistically described and felt not too far fetched, just like the 2030th society. It’s not over the top futuristic and Mari Mancusi doesn’t loose herself in complicated descriptions of technology or the virus. The gadgets introduced a successful advancement from things we have now. For me, the society didn’t feel as wrong and threatening as it was in other dystopian YA books, but during the story, the true extents of its threat is revealed.
Mari Mancusi does a stellar job of keeping the readers glued to the pages. You are tossed into a post-apocalyptic world right from the beginning and that alone poses a lot of questions that are answered in the course of the book.
At the end, I was sad that Tomorrow Land was only a standalone book, I would have wished for at least one more book. If you like the dystopian YA genre and if you’re looking for you next fix, I definitely recommend Tomorrow Land as a thrilling, adventurous page turner with complex characters and sweet romance.