Monday, March 5, 2012

Tomorrow Land by Mari Mancusi

Published March 1, 2012.

Author website. Oh look! You can now buy the book!

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?

An updated and re-released version of Mari's Dorchester title RAZOR GIRL, TOMORROW LAND is a YA post-apocalyptic adventure that DOESN'T include a love triangle, is a stand-alone book and does include mutated zombie-like creatures that stalk the protags on their way to Disney World. How is this NOT totally awesome?

Mari pitched it to me for review in pretty much the same fashion and I was pretty much like, um, yes? Nao? And it's every bit as good and awesome as her BLOOD COVEN series. I will admit, the voice threw me a bit. I'm so used to the Rayne/Sunny voices (well, mostly Rayne) and I've only read Mari's BLOOD COVEN books so seeing something so drastically different kind of poked me in the eye a little. But once my vision cleared and I was able to makes heads, tails and claws of the story I was reading, I fell into it and didn't want to come out.

TOMORROW LAND alternates between the POVs of Chase/Chris and Peyton and they're both so heart-wrenchingly real that it's really hard to pull your eyes away from the pages. You get to see the same story from two different perspectives and really it's like reading two different tales for how they both see things. It's a definite advantage to being in both of their heads. If I wasn't then some scenes wouldn't translate very well and it'd be way more super teen angsty than what it really was. So I'm really glad for the shift that each chapter took.

Also the way the story was told was pretty freaking cool. The plot moved parallel to itself, telling past events and current events simultaneously. You'd probably think that it might make the story a little jerky but both elements wove together so seamlessly that it just ended up being one giant story. The two stories don't actually catch up to each other but they both end where it's respective moment needs to end; one with Peyton going into the bunker and the end at the actual end of the story. But I can't say enough how well those two pieces fit together. The events that happened before and after really hurdle each other.

The ending was the best. Don't worry. I won't spoil. I will say that it's quite possibly the most optimistic post-apocalyptic story ending I've read yet. And I'm not just talking about for the characters but for the destroyed world surrounding them. I was seriously so happy at the end that I ended up crying (I tend to do that a lot, don't I?). While I like my bleak endings and characters fighting for every little thing, it's really so nice to read a story like this where you actually KNOW everything's going to be okay. It's so obvious it'll be alright that it's pretty much hitting you in the face. Loved it.

Peyton and Chase? I want more of them. They're just two amazingly thought out, dynamic characters that really stood off the page. They were alive for me. I felt Chase's struggle with drugs and Peyton's struggle with herself (although I think her struggle was a little stronger pre-planetary flush). I do feel the ending was a bit abrupt character-wise. I would have liked to have felt Peyton's reaction to it all a little more, especially considering how strong she was throughout the story but her reaction is still fitting. Over and done with. Moving on. Still, I'm greedy and I wanted just a little more. And Chase, when he was dueling with himself over his life, drugs, the kids, the quest, his love for Peyton, his battle was on the inside and it was almost painful to watch. Zombies? Not a problem. Feelings? He couldn't run from those.

And I can't forget the zombies. They're not your typical risen from the dead type of beasts and you don't find out until later in the story what makes them unique so I won't say anything about that here. I'll just say it adds a whole new depth to Mari's monsters that'll make you think twice about grabbing the nearest shovel and swinging.

Overall, totally epic. I loved every second of it. The world, the characters, their lives, I wanted more. TOMORROW LAND is a stand-out edition to the world of post-apocalyptic fiction and I hope everyone gets a chance to read it. I can't say enough good things about it.

Ban Factor: High - A cybernetic chick? A godless post-apocalyptic world? Allusions to sex? BANNED!
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