“Two years after the massacre, the State enforces stricter rules and harsher punishments on anyone rumored to support tomo – the clairvoyant drug that caused a regional uprising.
But sixteen-year-old Sophia Gray has other problems.
Between her father’s illegal forgery and her friend’s troubling history, the last thing Sophia needs is an unexpected encounter with a boy.
He’s wild, determined, and one step ahead of her. But when his involvement with tomo threatens her friends and family, Sophia has to make a decision: fight for a future she cannot see or sacrifice her loved ones to the world of tomorrow.”
So goes the official blurb for Shannon A. Thompson’s new YA novel Take Me Tomorrow; a story which features a drug addict and illegal immigrant, who commits acts of terrorism, as one of the main heroes.
This remarkable story is a far cry from Thompson’s successful Timely Death trilogy. I’ve been a great fan of this series and have reviewed the first two books in the past (click links here to read my reviews for Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise). The final book in the series, Death Before Daylight, comes out in January 2015 and I’m looking forward to finishing this series which is very readable, certainly gripping and yet has nothing content-wise for parents of teenagers to worry about. There’s really no sex, drugs or ultra-violence in these stories and Thompson does a fine job of creating a world of warring supernatural forces dwelling among ordinary human beings without being trite or failing to excite; all without giving in to the current sex-fuelled vampirism of most YA material these days.
Given Thompson’s previous style then, what an incredible turn this young author has taken with Take Me Tomorrow!
There are no supernatural forces at play here. Although written in a possible near-future setting, the story feels like it’s written in the now. The allegorical links to current controversies are easy make: we have a drug, tomo, which is dangerous, highly addictive and banned by state forces. We have a boy, addicted to tomo, and also banned by the state who enters illegally nonetheless, for an agenda which is never fully revealed but involves terrorist activity. I wondered if Thompson created this dystopian future first or if she had her own agenda in mind beforehand and set out to find out.
The author is quite candid about her reasons for writing Take Me Tomorrow in her own blog and leaves you in no doubt that she has a message to deliver in this book and the subsequent ones to come in the series. That said, the message in Take Me Tomorrow is ambiguous – undoubtedly deliberately so; the reader will need to buy the next book to find out just what Thompson wants to say in this series.
I’m reminded of the 1996 British movie Trainspotting (which shot Ewan McGregor to fame) even though the plot and setting is very different to Take Me Tomorrow. For years I told my students that Trainspotting was the best anti-drugs film ever made because, for much of the movie, it’s so pro-drugs. You have to see to the end to realise how powerful is its moral message – dressed as it is in a manner which speaks to people rather than condescendingly preaches at them. Similarly, Thompson’s unusual treatment of making a main character (Noah) an addict of a dangerous drug and, seemingly, not passing judgement on this other than through the fears of the other main character (Sophia) who is attracted to Noah nonetheless, is a brave move and one which, on the whole, I think succeeds. I’m sure with the sequel we’ll see themes deepen, gain a greater understanding about the background to Noah’s addiction and through this begin to hear Thompson’s message more clearly. For now, like the characters in the book, many of the themes are crouching in the dark.
Shannon Thompson is a young writer who has impressed me for several years. When I read Take Me Tomorrow I was, again, quite astounded by her growing skills as a writer. Her writing has developed tremendously and I’m convinced we’ve not yet seen the best of her yet – which makes me very excited for the future. It was only after reading the book and in preparing to write this review that I found out about her own private struggle with drugs – not through taking any herself but with having a mother who was addicted to prescription painkillers. The addiction eventually killed her mother when Shannon Thompson was just eleven years old. There’s only two ways for a young person to deal with such a tragedy: either you fight with a passion or you sink into self-pity. Thompson chose to fight – through her writing – and the results have been worth reading.
I don’t believe Shannon Thompson could have written Take Me Tomorrow a few years ago. She’s needed the time to develop her craft, find confidence in her voice as her writing style grew and allow certain subject matter to evolve and complexify to a point of maturity in her mind. The time has come now and she’s done a fine job. I can heartily recommend Take Me Tomorrow to any teen reader wanting to enjoy dystopian literature which is both accessible and meaty.
You can purchase Take Me Tomorrow here: