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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Review #2: "The Tomorrow Code" by Brian Falkner

Title: The Tomorrow Code
Author: Brian Falkner
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Edition: First Trade Paperback Edition: 2008
Back Cover Summary: Tane and Rebecca aren’t sure what to make of it. A sequence of 1s and 0s, the message looks like nothing more than a random collection of alternating digits. Working hard to decode it, however, Tane and Rebecca discover that the message contains lottery numbers…lottery numbers that win the next random draw!
Suddenly Tane and Rebecca are rich, but who sent the numbers? And why? More messages follow, and slowly it becomes clear—the messages are being sent back in time from Tane and Rebecca’s future! Something there has gone horribly wrong, and it’s up to them to prevent it from happening. As they follow the message’s cryptic instructions, Tane and Rebecca begin to suspect the worst—that the very survival of the human race may be at stake.


This was my first time reading Brian Falkner. He’s a children’s book writer from New Zealand who often writes stories that are based in his homeland. “The Tomorrow Code” is his U.S. debut.

The first thing that drew me toward this book was the cover. It looked dark and mysterious (and honestly reminded me of “Resident Evil” for some reason). I then proceeded to read the back cover and that’s when I should have thought twice about the book, discovering that the author wrote children’s books, because I think that’s really where the book went wrong for me. I was being drawn into this really interesting concept of messages from the future, a strange living pandemic that is taking over New Zealand with only three teenagers to stop it. However, since it is for children, the writing felt too simplistic, the dialogue too redundant, and the interesting storyline left high and dry, really defending for itself because the author is too busy explaining it so younger children might get it.

High Notes: The plot is vastly interesting. I love the idea of messages from the future, this race with time to decode the answers before it is too late, and then desperately seeking what to do next when the first plan fails. The story does come full circle, leaving the reader with hope that all the answers will be discovered in a second time around.

(If only we could have focused on allowing our imaginations to romp freely instead of being suffocated to death with every known and unknown detail. This leads qucikly into the low notes...)

Low Notes: Although the plot really stretches our imaginations and the bounds of science in an interesting way, the author leaves little room for us to fill in blanks on our own, allowing us to experience the journey alongside Tane and Rebecca. Instead, we are idle listeners, constantly told and reminded what is happening. Trust me, in certain chapters you'll most likely understand the book's "science" or at least accept it for what it is, but trust me, if you didn't get it the first time, the author will explain it again and then again. And, in case you need to hear it once more, the characters will also explain it to you in their own words over and over and over again.

My point is, there is a subtle art to the amount of information an author tells his/her readers, and the information the readers are allowed to figure out or decide on their own.

Also, dialogue is a huge thing for me. So when the dialogue becomes this forced tool, used merely to explain the situation and perform a rehearsed Q&A session, I’m disappointed. Honestly, you could probably get the bare bones of the story (and finish the book at lightning speed) by reading only the dialogue.

Let’s not forget the flatter than flat romance, predictable, boring.

Disclaimer: Okay, I really have to add this in before giving you my ratings. Note that this book was obviously too young for me. So my ratings will reflect my dismay as a 22 year-old. Younger audiences may be more satisfied. Nevertheless, I have read other children’s books, such as “The Hideout” by Micheline A. DeCaire, and been completely satisfied so it really may be that “The Tomorrow Code” is just on the outs in my mind.


Character Development: 3/5
Dialogue: 1/5
Prose: 3/5
Believability: 2/5
Style and Grammar: 3/5
Overall Rating: 48% Disappointed!

This book review can also be found at:  forblogs.blogspot.com


  1. I can see why the cover would remind you of Resident Evil. That symbol is indicative of biohazard. It may have been used to draw in that audience as a relation.

    Grammar stuff to follow.

    "It looked dark and mysterious (and honestly reminded me of “Resident Evil” for some reason.) I then proceeded to read the back cover and that’s when I should have thought twice about the book, discovering that the author was a children’s book,"

    Period after parenthesis. Also, the author is a children's book? Haha.

    "being suffocated to death with the every known and unknown detail."
    Remove "the."

    "This leads qucikly in the low notes...)"

    "to experience the journey alongside Tane and Recca."
    Do you mean Rebecca? Unless that's a shortening used in the text...

    "and the information the reader's are allowed"
    No apostrophe.

  2. Thanks for the edit. What did you think of the review?

  3. I think it was fair. The impression I got was that the author doesn't give kids enough credit and dumbed it down too much. Great premise, poor delivery.

  4. Cool. I'm glad that's how it came off.

  5. Good authors know how to impart details by making you feel a part of the story. They will use dialog, description, actions and reactions, reference and inference, etc, all without breaking the reader's immersion in the story.

    For me, plot details are secondary to character development, and dialogue is key to learning who a character is. You can always fill in the plot later, but if you're compromising character development space in the dialogue to explain the plot over and over again, you've got a problem... most likely something obsessive-compulsive.

    Or maybe he just doesn't know how to develop characters because he is a robot from the future sending books back through time to establish a connection with humans because all the humans are dead in his time because someone played the lotto with some digits from a code or something crazy like that... just saying, it's possible, right?

  6. According to this world, it's entirely possible!

    Any, yes! What you said it so true! (At least for me.) Character developement is so key! If I don't like a charcter or I don't get them, I have such a hard time reading. It doesn't matter how good, exciting, unique the plot is if your characters...suck. :( And monopolizing tools for developing characters to develop your plot is harmful.

  7. can you guys give me a summary of chapters 10-27 please... i really need them .


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