I am one of the very few people who wasn’t all that impressed by Cecelia Ahern’s successful debut novel, PS.I Love You. While others raved about it, I was a bit ‘meh’ about the whole thing, and thought Marian Keyes did a similar story far better in Is Anybody Out There? Being so under whelmed by that book, I have avoided Cecelia’s subsequent novels. That is until her latest book, released in October, caught my eye. With the most stunning cover and an intriguing premise, I decided it was time to give Cecelia Ahern another go.
Despite having some doubts about whether this was a book I would enjoy, I was surprised to find myself hooked from the very first page. The book is told in the first person, from Tamara, and I have to say I think Ahern got this character spot on. Tamara is spoilt and used to having her own way, and risked being an unlikable character, however I loved the way she was dry and sarcastic about herself and her lifestyle. I found rather than being annoyed by her, I was easily able to sympathise with her. I think it must be pretty awful to go from privileged to penniless, especially when that is all you know and at such an age, without having lost a parent to suicide. I never doubted Tamara’s thoughts or emotions for one second and despite being (much) older than the character, related to her straight away. I could even understand and forgive her occasional temper tantrums, such as screaming that she wants a gingerbread latte and she wants it now! It’s easy for the reader inside Tamara’s mind to recognise it’s not about the latte, and care for the scared and vulnerable child beneath.
I also found Tamara’s aunt, Rosaleen to be a well-written character, and Aherns descriptions of her made her easy to visualize and bring to life. I picked up quickly on a sinister side to Rosaleen, but for the life of me, I couldn’t work it out. In fact, there’s a huge family secret at the centre of the book, and despite me making numerous guesses and thinking ‘ahhh..I bet…), it wasn’t until the very last pages when it was fully revealed that I got it. This book had me turning the pages and completely unable to put down, so much so that I finished it in one night. I’d taken it into the bath and became so absorbed that before I released I’d been in over an hour and a half and the water was freezing! I’d recommend not starting this book on the bus or you may just miss your stop!
The mystery within the book is fantastic and completely unexpected, but making the story unique is the magical element in the form of Tamara’s book. This is what drew me to the book in the first place, as although I’m not a fan of the fantasy genre, a little magic and fairytale certainly appealed to me as something different. The book is certainly different, but perhaps the magic-ness of the book was one of the weakest parts of the story. I just felt it wasn’t used to it’s full potential, was a little confusing and never properly explained. As a break from the norm though, it did offer an interesting slant.
I do have a criticism of the book, in that at 319 pages it was just too short! The first 100 pages are where we learn about Tamara, her father and family and move to the sticks. From finding the book it felt a little rushed. This brings me back to the point about the magic of the book being the weakest point, and I do feel it could easily have been a longer tale and looked deeper into The Book Of Tomorrow itself. Part of me actually wonders if the story would be hugely affected without it, and I think it would still be a compelling read. However, I love chic-lit that is different and enjoyed it’s inclusion so would rather have had a longer story going just that little bit deeper into the magic.
While I don’t think Cecelia Ahern is the greatest writer, she certainly provides a fast paced and fascinating narrative in this book. It’s been a while since I became so involved in a story; I really couldn’t put it down. Some people might find huge holes in the story and need to dissect it, but I think this is definitely one you need to just enjoy for what it is. It’s an easy read, with a gripping and original story although I would say it’s far from run of the mill chic-lit. It tackles love, betrayal, family secrets and bereavement and manages to be sad, funny, suspenseful, captivating and original. I think the book would appeal to older teenagers and anyone who enjoys chick-lit and fancies something unusual. I highly recommend Cecelia Ahern’ The Book Of Tomorrow…just make sure you have a few hours to spare when you begin, as I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down!
The Book Of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (1 Oct 2009)