3 out of 4 stars
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The Lost Hopes of the Future by Alicia C Manley is a coming of age book written by a teenage author for teenage readers. Tristan Anderson receives a videotape through the post. Once he works out how to play it, he finds a sequence of short films, each predicting the death of someone close to him. To add to the mystery, each clip appears to have been filmed in the 1980s, yet he and his friends appear in them, dressed for that time period. Tristan shows the video to his friends who believe it to be en elaborate hoax until a death occurs almost exactly as depicted in the film. They then try to prevent the next death, only to find that it will play out in some other way if they succeed.
I loved the premise of a group of post-millennials having to deal with outdated technology, and how contemporary characters were appearing on film that was almost 40 years old. I also loved the way the plot unfolded initially. What I was unsure about was whether the book was supposed to be satirical or not. I couldn’t help but smile when Tristan, after hearing of the deaths of friends and family, wailed ’why is this happening to me?’ and ’totally ruining my life!’ They are such clichéd things for a teenager to say, yet the author is a teenager herself so I was never quite sure which angle she was coming from.
Knowing that the story was written by a 17-year-old, I have to say that it is remarkably good and I enjoyed it. The area of the book that I least liked was the theme all the way through where Tristan is confused as to whether he’s gay or not. While I don’t have a problem with that as a theme, by page 7 when he had introduced Blake as having jet-black hair and bright green eyes, and that ’he helped the poor kid out by tucking his soft hair behind his ears’, I was already yelling, ”You’re gay, mate, gay as a window!” So the 200 odd pages of him questioning, exploring, obsessing and discovering all got a bit samey after a while. I also felt that the question of his sexuality was given greater importance than the issue of his friends dropping dead all around him. Again, I was asking myself, ”is the author being satirical?”
I’m afraid that for me, the book started to fall apart rather towards the end. Usually, the resolution of something of this nature requires a sacrifice. Needing all of your Christmases to come at once was rather unexpected. I also found myself wading through buckets of teenage angst which I’m sure goes down a storm in the young-adult and fan-fiction circles but doesn’t sell itself to a wider audience.
From a grammatical point of view, the book was saved from my ’big red pen of doom’ by being written in the first person. I allowed a lot of inaccuracies to go by under the heading of ’that’s how people speak’. However, I do have the following comments.
The author often changed tense mid-sentence, for instance, ’making me see things I should've never saw’. Also, she was rather parsimonious with her commas. There were times when a missing comma completely changed the meaning of a sentence; for example, ’Blake and Sage stopped seeming to be intrigued by my find.’ I couldn’t understand why they were being so blasé until I realised that the comma between ’stopped’ and ’seeming’ was missing. There were other errors, such as incorrect words: ’velocity’ instead of ’veracity’, ’everyday’ instead of ’every day’ and my old favourite, the misplaced apostrophes. What it all boils down to is that everybody needs an editor. My last comment is that the book contained a rather graphic gay sex scene. I personally don’t have a problem with that, but the book blurb on Amazon doesn’t indicate that homosexuality makes up such a large part of the story and people may feel they should be warned beforehand.
I think that this book will be well received by young adults, especially anybody having difficulties with their sexuality. I also think it was a good thriller, but it needed tightening up, and a bit more of an explanation of how and why all the things were happening, particularly between the time loops. The author also needs to move away from fan fiction themes like ’OTP’ and ’gay ship’ as most people outside of the fanfic bubble don’t know what they mean.
Had this book been written by an older person, I would have given it 2 stars, but for such a young author, it is exceptional, so I’m giving it 3 out of 4 stars.
The Lost Hopes of the Future
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