BY BAY COLT
Exhausting, vapid and tactlessly inane, New York Times bestseller Forget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn proves to be yet another soulless and derivative YA (Young Adult) novel that disrespects the craft of dystopian fiction with a fundamental disconnect from the roots of the genre, just one in a slew of other such cash-grabbing novels that have cropped up in the highly successful wake of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.
The essential premise of the story is that the main character, Calla, lives in a dystopian society of automated tasks and high technology where one’s path is determined on their seventeenth birthday, when they will receive a memory from their future self that will sculpt their decisions for the rest of their life. Calla is exceptional because her future memory reveals that one day, she will murder her baby sister. This would be an interesting concept if it was executed correctly; however, Dunn’s insipid writing style and inability to clarify or illustrate her worldbuilding in any meaningful way means that this promising premise falls flat in the very first chapter.
The prose and stylistic choices in this novel are comically terrible and surprising to read from an author who is a Harvard graduate. The sentence structure is repetitive, any trite descriptions of Calla’s surroundings are limited to a ten foot range, and Dunn cannot seem to relinquish her grip on several irritating phrases that are used over and over again without respite—it is quite easy to lose track of the number of times Calla “licks her lips” or ogles at her love interest’s “swimmer’s body” and “chiseled abs.” At some point, one can assume that the audience understands what your characters look like, but Dunn remains intent on spoon feeding every single word to her readers as if any of it is difficult to understand.
Speaking of the love interest, the main conflict of the story is that Calla does not want to kill her sister, but this conflict is constantly waylaid and shoved aside for the romantic arc between Calla and her crush, Logan. At times, the entire book feels like a thinly-veiled excuse for the two to stare at each other. Despite practically becoming the main arc, the romance is no more developed than the world, with a total lack of normal relationship progression and chemistry due to Calla’s complete inability to be a likable protagonist. She is impossible to invest in; her character voice is melodramatically self-sacrificial and grating, and she cannot seem to focus on anything but Logan’s irresistible eyes for longer than a few minutes. One of the most infuriating aspects of her character is that it is revealed that Logan’s younger brother was quite literally kidnapped and murdered by the government for being psychic, but Calla still spends the first half of the book incessantly guilting Logan for not speaking to her for five years after that, as if the whole traumatic event was personally tailored to hurt her and her alone.
Besides the poor characterization, Dunn’s greatest sin is her failure to commit to the dystopian genre in any poignant or thoughtful manner. A dystopia is defined by its underlying criticism of some aspect of society, which should be evident in every worldbuilding choice. Nothing should be there that is not contributing to this intended criticism. In The Hunger Games, the people of the Capitol are so outlandishly obsessed with body modification because they are a satirical criticism of rich elites destroying themselves with cosmetic surgeries simply because they’re bored and can afford to do so. Collins did not write these people in this way because she thought it was so cool and futuristic to have a rebel character named Tigris who has surgically modified herself to look like a tiger—she wrote Tigris as a blatant criticism of the grotesque ways in which people alter themselves for beauty standards and fashion trends and then come to regret it.
Dunn, on the other hand, tosses around these types of details with little care or thought into how they should contribute to the larger message. Medical care has supposedly advanced to the point where all illnesses and ailments can be cured, but instead of handling this issue with the care it requires, Dunn blunders thoughtlessly into a world where eugenics is wonderful and disabled people have been wholly eradicated. This could have been a subtle criticism of eugenics and medical abuse against disabled people, but instead it is a completely irrelevant aesthetic detail that serves to further nothing in the larger story.
Every aspect of this book amounts to dissatisfaction from every angle. Just when it begins to seem as though Calla will be forced to take an active stance in the narrative for the first time, her dreamy love interest swoops in and saves her, and from that moment forth she does nothing of value besides swoon in his capable arms. Every detail of the contrived worldbuilding crafts a picture that is nonsensical at best. The climax of the story is illogical, anticlimactic, and unsatisfying. Dunn’s writing style is hollowly theatrical and overblown with cliches to the point of being unbearable to sit through. Forget Tomorrow is a forgettable and amateurish disgrace to its genre, its predecessors, and its audience—there is no praise to offer this utterly stale pile of wasted paper.
Categories: Entertainment, Opinion
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