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REVIEW: The Tomorrow Code by Brian Falkner

REVIEW SUMMARY: Interesting sci-fi ideas, interesting characters, made for an overall fun experience.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Rebecca and Tane are high school kids in New Zealand that are struck with the idea that it might be possible to send information back in time and if so, where to look for it. Of course, as soon as they start listening, they start seeing messages and ultimately find themselves mixed up in a major threat to the human race.


PROS: Excellent ideas based on real science about potential transmissions through time, lots of facts about the hazards of time manipulation, exciting action sequences

CONS: Some of the prose, especially early in the book, is somewhat repetitive and hard to read; characters aren’t as deep as I would like; environmental message was too heavy-handed and not backed up by the plot

BOTTOM LINE: Fun reading experience that I would recommend to everybody.

The Tomorrow Code is a young adult novel. The reason it is listed as such is because the protagonists are teens and that it is being marketed to the young adult market. The writer has previously done some children’s books and I guess the publisher figures this is the most effective way to sell the book. But honestly, there really isn’t anything kid-focused about the book. The themes are pretty adult.

I can’t discuss more without some spoilers, so you’ve been warned. Stop reading now if you don’t want to know anything about the plot.

Take a look at a few of the major sci-fi themes discussed: analyzing data from background gamma ray radiation detectors for messages sent backwards in time, macrophages, gene splices spiraling out of control, personal submarines, genetic codes for our destruction living in our own genes, time loops and causality, and more. In fact, if the protagonists hadn’t been kids, I’d argue this was a pretty ambitious novel all by itself.

I had some problems with the science fiction. The enemy is able to destroy humans by annihilating them with little regard to conservation of matter or energy. The messages are crazily cryptic, and frankly don’t need to be so. The matter of the trouble that messaging back into time can cause is mentioned a couple of times but then conveniently ignored (but then I’d argue that most time travel stories suffer from this.)

I also had a little difficulty believing the children were able to operate without parental control or interest for such a long period of time. At one point they win the lottery and acquire a multi-million dollar personal submarine. All without parents. Yeah, that’s stretching things a bit.

Overall though I enjoyed the book. The themes explored were mostly reasonable and consistent with current science. I liked the sci-fi ideas presented and the action sequences were easy to follow and pretty exciting. And the ending was fantastic – exactly what I was hoping for.

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