(2004) Whitley Strieber, Gollancz, £6.99, pbk, 249pp, ISBN 0-575-07603-8
The Day After Tomorrow is the novelisation of the Summer blockbuster film from Roland Emmerich (Godzilla and Independence Day). Earth is in crisis and about to enter the next ice age. The northern hemisphere is being battered by the most extreme weather to wreak havoc in the last 10,000 years... and it's goint to get worse... much worse as the eyes of the superstorms are set to reduce temperatures to -150 degrees Fahrenheit. While an unprepared world tries to come to terms with the end of life as they know it, climatologist Jack Hall has only one goal, a race against time to save his teenage son who is stranded in a doomed New York City.
The reader of any novelisation always falls into one of two categories - those who haven't seen the movie and those who have. In the case of The Day After Tomorrow I fall into the latter and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the film. Emmerich got the inspiration for the movie after reading Strieber's book The Coming of the Global Superstorm (co-written with Art Bell) and it is therefore somehow fitting for Strieber to pen the novelisation of the movie. It is faithful to the plot of the movie, but Strieber somehow succeeds in creating an element of suspense throughout the novelisation. The text is uncomplicated, compact, fast-paced and well worth a read, whether you have seen the movie or not. Only some minor aspects of the story have changed, and the imagery is considerably more graphic in parts than portrayed on film. One fundamental difference, which works very well in the book, is the reader's god-like knowledge of the horrific events unfolding on the page before them. For example, there are several points where Strieber focuses in on people struggling to escape to the south, concerned with the safety of their TV set, which is all so futile when they are going to be dead in two days. Yes, it's not a cheerful, light-hearted book and you do find that you are more aware of the impact of the devastation than you are when faced with the images on screen.
Despite being a story of global destruction with the deaths of millions throughout the northern hemisphere, the book is actually an uplifting story showing how mankind can triumph through adversity, no matter how bleak the outlook. The lead characters, Jack Hall and his son Sam, are inspiring examples of how we would all like to think that we would behave in their situation. They are the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, the hope for the future of mankind. At only 249 pages The Day After Tomorrow is an entertaining read and ideal for a hot sunny beach!
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