Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

Posted by Simcha 6:06 PM, under , | 3 comments

Tamara Goodwin has always got everything she's ever wanted. Born into a family of wealth, she grew up in a mansion with its own private beach, a wardrobe full of designer clothes and all that a girl could ever wish for. She's always lived in the here and now, never giving a second thought to tomorrow. But then suddenly her dad is gone and life for Tamara and her mother changes forever.

Left with a mountain of debt, they have no choice but to sell everything they own and move to the country. Nestled next to Kilsaney Castle, their gatehouse is a world away from Tamara's childhood. With her mother shut away with grief, and her aunt busy tending to her, Tamara is lonely and bored and longs to return to Dublin.When a travelling library passes through Kilsaney Demesne, Tamara is intrigued. Her eyes rest on a mysterious large leather bound tome locked with a gold clasp and padlock. What she discovers within the pages takes her breath away and shakes her world to its core.

Hmm.. I'm not really sure what my feelings are about this book. I nearly gave up on it several times during the first half because the writing style irritated me. I found the introduction to be too melodramatic, especially coming from a teenage girl, and then I had trouble with the way narrator kept switching from the past to the present, and back again. But I did really like the voice of the protagonists, Tamara, which is smart, funny and honest, and therefore I stuck with the book longer than I might otherwise have. About half-way through, the mystery started coming together and I ended up getting completely sucked into the story, finishing the book in one sitting.

But although the story did eventually grab a hold of me and successfully kept me entertained, I'm feeling kind of meh about it, now that I think back to it. I had gotten caught up in the story because I wanted fo find out how all the mysterious events would be explained, but then the big reveal didn't turn out to be as interesting as I had hoped.

Most of all, though, I was disappointed with the way magical, future -telling book is handled. This is actually an issue that I have had with several other books that would be considered "magical realism" and had brought it up as well in my review of The Girl with the Glass Feet. These books incorporate some kind of magical element or object into an every day, non-magical story, as a unique gimmick to make the story more interesting, but it's often not done in a convincing way. So the magical object just kind of conveniently appears to help move the story forward but no explanations are provided for why it is there.

Tamara establishes that the book wants to help her get to the bottom of the strange events taking place, by offering her hints of events to come, but I kept wondering why the book would want to do that. I had expected that some connection would be revealed between the book and the unfolding events, offering a link that would explain the presence of the book at least a little, but none is provided. And I was especially put out with Tamara for what she does with the book in the end, because that is not what one is meant to do with a magical item that has mysteriously appeared to guide you. OK, I know I'm going on and on about this book issue, and I don't think anyone else that has read The Book of Tomorrow could care less about this, which is probably why they all enjoyed the book so much more than I did.

The Book of Tomorrow is an enjoyable enough read, with an engaging protagonist and an interesting storyline, but it ended up falling pretty short of my expectations. If you are looking for a good story about a magical book I would steer you instead towards Seven-Day Magic by Edward Eager, a childhood favorite which has spoiled for me all other stories about magical books.


Great review. I've listened to a different Ahern book and remember that it really struggled with the first part of it and then was sucked in for the last half. I might still try this book but it is good to know that it has a similar set up.

I do not think it's the book for me, I did pick it up once and thought no. And after this review, nope

Anything by Edward Eager is fabulous, as far as I'm concerned. I loved Half-Magic!

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