In this strange and troubling land, all young men are doomed to turn into dogs and die before they can reach the age of thirty. The curse leaves many with no hope for a future, either hoping for something great at a young age, or simply accepting an empty existence.
Seventeen-year-old Hippolyte Falcor is one such young man, caught up in a life of crime and escaped convictions. When he and his pack of fellows pick the wrong pocket, Hippolyte ends up in the mercy of the law, shackled to bodyguard duty for one Alex mac Fauks. But Alex offers something Hippolyte could barely dream of: a potential cure for the curse. Even in darkest night, perhaps dreams still live on in Tomorrow We Die by E.R. Raabe.
Tomorrow We Die is a somber tale of a cursed world, told through the eyes and ears of Hippolyte. “Hip” is a complex character – he’s under no illusions about his eventual fate; not content or simply willing live up to the role the world has ascribed to him and his kind. He turns to a life of petty thievery and simple thrill-seeking just to eke something out of a terrible situation.
It’s only when wrenched out of this cycle that he finds it in himself to aspire to something greater and show a hitherto-unknown depth of character throughout the story. After all, good characters show their greatness when tested, and Hip is tested harshly in this tale, only to endure and survive once more every time. It takes this kind of character to really explore both the deep sadness and the enduring sparks of hope that can carry this story and its setting, and so this aspect deserves a lot of praise.
The writing in general for the book is strong, never waxing on, yet sometimes coming up a little short on detail where it might have been warranted. The world definitely feels conceptually developed, though again, some additional details here and there could have really brought the story to life. Alex is a good counter to Hip, motivating him to do more while simultaneously proving more than ever that hope is a useless trait. Together, however, they represent a line even the desperate won’t let themselves cross, or let others push them behind, and that’s a truly brilliant part of this book.
The subject of the book is commendable, taking advantage of the grim young-adult leaning to tell a story with a clear mirror to our society’s view of young men without getting too hung up on that idea, delivering a very entertaining story. Wrapped up in a beautiful, simplistic cover and with more to come from this author, this book really feels like something special – maybe even the start of something great, if any sequels improve on those very few stumbling points. A dark-yet-hopeful coming-of-age through fire, Tomorrow We Die is a sorrowful, unique, and spellbinding young-adult read.
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