The Book of Tomorrow by Cecilia Ahern

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecilia Ahern is told by Tamara, a spoiled rich girl whose life has just been turned on its head. Her money-oriented father has just committed suicide, leaving Tamara and his mother with a mountain of debt. They sell their fancy Dublin mansion and go to live with Tamara's uncle Arthur and his paranoid, micromanaging wife, Rosaleen. As Tamara deals with the loss of her father and all her creature comforts, her mother's catatonic grief, her strange relatives, and her absolute boredom, she discovers a blank diary that describes what will happen tomorrow. As she reads the diary and acts on what happens, she uncovers a dark mystery involving the Kilsaney castle nearby.

Before I write about the actual book, I need to give a moment's appreciation to the cover. I think it is beautiful. And yes, I am quite familiar with the adage to not judge a book by its cover, but it does make a book more appealing. This one is my favorite cover of 2011 (Okay, so 2011 hasn't been very long, but I love it!).

The actual book was an entertaining, albeit fluffy, ride. I read this book over a period of two days. I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. The plot was interesting, full of unexpected twists. One of my biggest pet peeves in a book is predictability. In a book where a diary tells you the events of the next day, The Book of Tomorrow could easily have fallen into this trap. However, the story succeeded in being entertaining and unexpected.

The characters didn't quite live up to the plot. Some of them were well developed, but a few were flat and seemed almost out of place in the book. I found Tamara to be delightful. She is a little snot but her frank honesty about herself and her flaws made her endearing and at times hilarious, although I hope I never have to deal with a teenager like her. Rosaleen was also a full and complicated character. At the beginning, she seems simple and straightforward enough - an anal, meddlesome, middle-aged woman frustrated with the newcomers in her home and trying to control them so they don't mess up her rigidly controlled world. However, as the story unfolds, Rosaleen unfolds as well, revealing motives, passions, and capabilities that are surprises but consistent with her character.

However, with other characters I found myself wanting more. Marcus and Wesely, Tamara's new friends in her rural setting, both seemed flat and underdeveloped. They are both so significant to the story that I was disappointed with how little I knew about them and how similar they seemed to each other. I almost think they could have been meshed into one character with a stronger character. I was also disappointed in how little I knew about Tamara's mother, Jennifer, and Laurie. So much drama centers around these characters, but we never get a taste of who they really are or why they are worth all the fuss. I enjoyed their story so much, but I felt like they were strangers.

My major pet peeve with this novel, however, was the writing. There were some seriously awkward similes. Some choice examples:

"The tree trunks were fascinating, aged and wrinkled like elephants' legs. They twisted around one another like lovers. Some rose from the ground, arched as though in agony."

I don't love the image of elephant legs, then lovers, then agony. It was just an uncomfortable image with all those similes placed so close to each other. I also didn't love this one: "The birds were like hyperactive monkeys." However, some of Ahern's pop culture references were fun. Here's my favorite:

"I waited, almost expecting Rosaleen to come sprinting across the road with her tea dress hitched up to her thighs, revealing hamstrings so tight Jimi Hendrix could plan on them."
That one was pretty funny. I think Ahern has a unique way of writing, and it just doesn't quite work for me. But obviously it serves her well, and it wasn't off-putting enough for me to never read another of her books.

Overall, to me this book was like a very good chick flick. I loved it, I had fun reading it, and it left me with a warm fuzzy feeling. It was mainly plot driven, but it had some good plot twists and wasn't predictable. It even dealt with some deep subjects, like Tamara's growing up and not being such a little brat, and what truly wins out in this world, love or money. It would make a great beach read, and I think it will entertain anyone who reads it.

Accessibility/readability: Accessible, the story flows.
Aesthetics/literary merit: 2
Plot: 4
Characters: 3
Personal response: 3
Overall: 3

FTC Disclosure: Book received from publisher


  1. Funny, this is the 2nd review of this book I read in two days. I am still stuck in PS I love you. And yeah stuck.. not because I don't like the story (I LOVE the story) but because of the fact that it can be told in fewer pages and it drags. I am halfway now, and I have just lost interest.

    That is why I am having my doubts to read this one as well, but the reviews are positive.

  2. @Uniflame - I actually never finished PS I Love You. I don't remember why I didn't finish it because I loved the movie, but for some reason the book did not hold me. This book moved fairly quickly so it probably won't drag in the way you are finding PS I Love You to drag.


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