Adult Book Reviews · Book Reviews 2014 · Contemporary Books · Magical Realism and Speculative Books

‘The Book of Tomorrow’ by Cecelia Ahern

This is a story about how tomorrow can change what happens today…

4.75 Stars (Rounded to 5)

‘The Book of Tomorrow’ was the first Cecelia Ahern book I started to read, but it was not the first one I finished. I started this book back in July/August after picking it up at a school fair. When I started reading it, it was a good book that didn’t seem as enticing as other books on my TBR pile, so I put it down, supposedly temporarily, but it just got pushed to the back of the huge pile. Having finished another Ahern book, ‘Where Rainbows End’ – which became one of my favourite books of 2014 – I decided to pick this one up and finish it. I am sat here twenty minutes after I turned the final page, incredibly glad that I chose to finish this one today.

The book is about a teenage girl, Tamara, who had an incredibly lavish and spoiled upbringing thanks to her millionaire father. After her father goes bankrupt and commits suicide, she finds herself leaving her glamorous lifestyle behind her and moving with her emotionally fragile mother to live with her aunt and uncle in the country. While settling into her new life, she finds a diary, and its contents begin to change her life in the most unexpected way.

The main reason that this book was not a solid five stars was because I put it down and left it for so long. The main reason I did so was because I had other more pressing reads, but also because this book took me a very long time to get into. When I put it down back in the summer, I was 33% in. Yes, a third. Despite this, I was not fully invested in the story. Yes, I was finding it very interesting, but not enough so to stop me moving onto other things. The beginning of this book is very, very slow, with less emphasis on plot and more focus on Tamara’s character. In hindsight, this was necessary, as part of the beauty of the book lies in Tamara’s extensive character development, however when you are reading the book and have no idea where the story is heading, it probably needs a little more than character focus to keep your full attention.

This was very swiftly remedied. It seems like I put it down at just the wrong moment, as upon opening the book a fair few months later to give it another shot, I found the pace sped up literally two pages after where I had put it down before, and once the pace had picked up, it became a significantly different story. It became less focused on the struggles of Tamara, and more focused on a gripping mystery that gives the reader a lot to consider. This naturally held my attention brilliantly, as I am an intuitive person, and the temptation to try and work out little plot elements based on minor clues was too much temptation for me to even consider putting the book down again. The story added another, more magical element which separated it from typical teenage coming-of-age scenarios I have read previously, and I found that ever since I passed the 33% mark, there was always something going on, and there simply wasn’t the time between events for me to get bored.

I thought that the characters were brilliant. I can see why people would dislike Tamara, as she starts the book as a typical stroppy, melodramatic and selfish teenage girl. I have seen people list Tamara as the reason they hated the book, due to her conceited attitude. I have to say that this completely defeats the point. Tamara is (and I hate to admit it) how many teenage girls actually do act. I’ve definitely been guilty of acting in that manner before. She is portrayed as a bitchy and slightly cruel girl, but seeing her actions in the first person means that we get to see the guilt and pain she carries with her, and an acknowledgement that she hates herself and the way she behaves. This makes her feel very real to me; there are moments in my life when I know I have acted very similarly to Tamara, and in my head I knew, just like she did, that I was making life incredibly difficult for myself. I think it was a breath of fresh air to see into the mind of a character who I can empathise with, and who is not either the perfect or worst heroine, but a good mix of the two. Another part of what makes her character so perfect for me is how she grows as a person. By the end we see some (arguably out-of-character) philosophical thoughts which summarise the meaning of the book perfectly. The Tamara we see before the events of the book would never in a million years consider any of the moral comments we see suggested later on, and seeing her progressively become aware of the world around her made for a nice thing to read about. Moving away from Tamara, almost all of the characters felt real: many of them were the kind of characters that can be identified to people within the readers’ own lives, and every single one of them was multi-layered and seemed very true-to-life. My particular favourite was Sister Ignatius. She stripped away every preconception that people have of nuns to create someone that we would not identify immediately with the role whilst still feeling like an accurate character, and I loved that aspect.

Ahern’s writing is brilliant. My previous experience of her writing, ‘Where Rainbows End’, was written in a letter format, which was incredibly quick and easy to read. I was interested to see how her proper prose would show up in contrast. I have to say that I found it just as easy and pleasant to read. She weaves clues throughout so seamlessly that they are hard to pick up on. The flow of ideas seemed to be incredibly natural, and once past the 33% marker, the pacing was spot on. Everything that she described felt so real, and it really captured me in the story. There are moments, especially in the final chapter, when there are very strong moral messages produced, and some quotes I found to be incredibly meaningful and emotive to me. In this aspect, I think I preferred it to ‘Where Rainbows End’; I am a sucker for a good quote that makes me reflect on life, and I found them in here in abundance.

Ultimately, I absolutely adored this book. If it weren’t for the slow start, then it would be accompanying ‘Where Rainbows End’ on my favourite books list.

Twitter @emmathereader

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