The Tomorrow Code
Published by Random House, 2008. 349 Pages
I try to avoid doing reviews for books that push propaganda I don't believe in, but I felt compelled to follow through with this one, since I read it for the express purpose of reviewing it.
So, fair warning to everyone - this will not be an unbiased book review. The text touches on anthropogenic climate change and human self-hatred, both of which irk me to no end. The first, because it cannot be proven by scientific fact (it can be disproven, however, through many geological studies), and the second because I am a Christian and believe that all creatures are God's creation, even humans. The pushing of anthropogenic climate change and the negative view of human beings probably colored my enjoyment of the book. I encourage anyone to read it and decide for themselves what they think.
That being said, please understand that whatever my opinions, I am not trying to incite arguments about either of those things. Just know that if you disagree, you may not like this review.
The premise of this story is that two teenagers receive messages from the future that soon reveal themselves to be warnings and instructions to avoid the mass destruction of the human race.
It sounded very interesting when I read the back. And the main viewpoint was a teenage boy, which intrigued me all the more. As I got into the first part of the story, I was thrilled to find a book which echoed so many from Michael Crichton. I loved that guy! The code-finding and breaking drew me in and I was just as anxious as the characters to save the world.
Tane is the main character in the first act of the book. He is a typical teenage boy with an understated goodness and creativity that allows him to see the world in a mostly positive light. He has a crush on his best friend, gets jealous when she dates his brother, and he truly wants to help others. His voice and development are excellent and well-done in the first half.
Rebecca, his best friend, is out-spoken, highly intelligent and a strong animal-rights activist. She's had a hard road but things tend to work out okay for her.
Together, Tane and Rebecca are a great team, even though the author sometimes uses Tane as a tool to get the science explained to the audience. Rebecca, being the "smart" one, lays out the theories and ideas, hand-feeding them to the reader by "explaining" them to Tane. Instead of being interesting, at times it just feels like the author's crutch to make sure the audience "gets" everything.
As the story progresses, the kids are thwarted in their attempts to save the world from desctruction. They run up against an American soldier who is portrayed as a bully, and a scientist portrayed as a villain who is less intelligent than Rebecca. In fact, most of the adults in the book are shown (if they are shown) to be unobservant and callous.
While there is the need to show the kids as the heroes, there should also be a good showing of adults. Not all adults are the enemy and I believe it's important for readers to see positive interactions between the teenagers and their elders . It was rare to see that in this book.
The second half of the story is basically spent showing the inevitable consumption of all humans besides Tane and Rebecca.
Rebecca finally makes the connection she needs to understand what's happening, but by the time she does, her character is so angry and hurt that she essentially loathes all humans, calling mankind a plague on the earth. She says that the people fighting should just let it happen so the earth can be cleansed.
Her hesitation and anger pave the way for the end of the world. And thus, the end comes.
Of course, the author had to give us several different viewpoints from characters who end up dying horribly, which only serves to detract from Tane and muddle up the plot.
The real issue I have is that, while Rebecca ends up trying to help, we don't really see an acknowledgement of her desire to continue living and her desire to help save her people. She is never given the relief of true sadness and purging of all her fears and anguish. The end leaves off with her broken and destitute, emotionally. I don't believe that she truly thought of her loved-ones as a plague, but the issue is never addressed for her again and it's a shame. It taints her development, and leaves me feeling thoroughly unsatisfied.
I heartily disagree with the sentiment that humans are a plague, and having this character say it and never take it back leaves a bad taste in my brain.
The shining star of the novel, Tane, does not get the time he deserves. His goodness and ability to get back to his Maori roots are what really save the world, but that is lost amidst the death and destruction, the many different points of view, and Rebecca's hateful attitude. The character that should make the most impact is so understated that the twist at the end overpowers him.
Speaking of the twist at the end, I will say that the author did a nice job of foreshadowing. If Tane had been given the appropriate time in the second half, it would've been better, but I did smile when I realized what the author had set up from the beginning.
The science is interesting, as is the "bad guy" Tane and Rebecca end up fighting against. I never would've thought of it, myself.
I can only leave off with saying, "If only..." to most of the story, and not in a good way. If only the author had given Tane the spotlight... If only Rebecca had been given peace... If only the propaganda hadn't been pushed... I might have enjoyed this book. As it is, all I can do is move on to my next literary adventure and hope that I'm left feeling more satisfied.
Until next time, go read something good.