I love drugs. Wait, let me rephrase that. I love reading about the drug industry. The people who take them are moderately interesting, but it’s the drugs themselves and the people who sell them that really fascinate me.
Hence my excitement when I heard of Take Me Tomorrow, by Shannon A. Thompson. Drugs + dystopia? Count me in, please and thank you. While Take Me Tomorrow didn’t completely live up to my expectations, there were things I really appreciated, such as the thread of moral ambiguity running through the narrative.
But first, the plot. Like many YA dystopias, it takes place in an America different from the one we know now. Take Me Tomorrow sets itself apart, however, by centering the story around a drug, tomo. Tomo’s origins are mysterious, but its effects are not: users can see the future, which the current regime does not like at all. As a result, the authorities have declared war on tomo and its…ah, fans.
Throughout the story, tomo’s role keeps shifting. Is it just a recreational drug? Or is it the people’s salvation? It’s never made clear what role tomo plays, which adds a nice, ambiguous layer to the proceedings. We only know what Sophia, the protagonist, knows, and our perspective shifts with hers.
Her opinions of a boy named Noah keep changing as well.
I quite liked Noah. Correction: I loved Noah. From the moment he appears on the page, he dominates the scene. Like tomo, the drug he sells and takes, his position is not clear. Sophia can never decide whether he’s a friend or an enemy, a pawn or a messiah. Noah lies. A lot. He managed to surprise me a couple of times, and, like Sophie, I’m still not sure what to think of him. I mean that as a compliment. He can accelerate from perfectly friendly and sunny to smashing your mom’s vase in 30 seconds, and it is all calculated. In case you haven’t noticed, I love characters like this. God help me.
As an added bonus, he spends half the book high. I’m not even kidding. Poor Sophia has to keep snapping him out of whatever horrific vision he’s experiencing. Alas, Noah has not yet learned that classy drug dealers DO NOT CONSUME THEIR PRODUCT. However, kudos to Noah for tricking even ME, the reader, into thinking that his drug habit was A-okay, was vital to overthrowing the evil regime, etc. It took this line,
“He’s an addict, Sophia.”
for me to remember that oh, yeah, drugs are baaad. I LOVE IT WHEN CHARACTERS MANIPULATE ME.
But now onto the bad stuff.
My biggest problem was the writing style, by far. It just didn’t grab me at all. In fact, I was bored until Noah started playing a bigger role.
Second problem: The evil regime.
I’m one of those annoying people who wasn’t over the moon about Hunger Games. It was a great series, absolutely. But I was irritated by President Snow’s lack of complexity (among other issues that are utterly irrelevant here). He was a political mastermind and he had blood breath. That was it. But at least he had memorable characteristics and goals. I could say “roses and blood breath” and you’d probably think of President Snow, right?
Not so with Phelps, the resident evil dictator. While the resistance had a history and background, the evil regime was disappointingly blah. I never learned what their philosophy was, how they gained power, or any of the other dystopia requisites.
Third problem (last one, I promise): I loved Noah and Sophia, but other characters should have been either fleshed out or cut. Lily and Miles, I’m looking at you. I didn’t care about them at all, and they only functioned as plot devices. Sophia’s father should have gotten way more screen time, seeing that he played an instrumental part in shaping Sophia into the person she is today. Altogether, I liked most of the characters, except for the ones I pointed out, and it was a mostly satisfying read.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have fictional bad boys to chase after.