ALL OUR WRONG TODAYS
by Elan Mastai
One of the best books I’ve read in a long time, All Our Wrong Todays, was a far-reaching, insightful, and witty novel, disguised as time-travel fiction. I cried, I laughed, I yelled in frustration as I read, Elan Mastai’s debut. It was an emotional roller-coaster, that tugged at my heart-strings. At first, I was skeptical, the narrator and main character, Tom Barren, is not likable. He has a rather stutter-start of an introduction, he begins the novel with a very shallow and egotistical interpretation of his world, and himself. It doesn’t make him endearing, or empathetic to his quandary. Yet, as the story progresses, Tom begins to grow on you, he reveals more about himself, and word by word, each sentence you fall deeper and deeper into a marvelous story of love, loss, friendship, life, death, and our distorted reality. Man, All Our Wrong Todays rocked my world.
This one is hard to break down in a manner that does it justice. The main character, Tom, is an underachiever in a very over-achieving world. He lives in the perfect 2016, think Jetson’s and you’ll come close. No war, no hunger, they even invented the instant outfit and hair machine that I lusted after while watching the Jetsons. His father invents time-travel and the only reason Tom is involved in his father’s project is because of nepotism. He knows he’s only there because of his father, all the people around him know he’s only there because of the man, but he goes along with it, he doesn’t really have anything else to do. But, in the process of helping his father achieve his dreams, Tom falls in love, with the rock star of the time travel team. And she might like him back…or so he thinks. They share the best night of his existence, and it is followed by Tom unmaking an entire timeline, by a stupid move on his part. Now, transported to “reality,” or what is our reality of 2016, Tom is forced into his dystopian universe, faced with the fact that he annihilated billions of lives and the perfect future. The basis of the plot might seem like a shallow, science fiction, time-travel novel, but it’s anything but. The author’s ability to craft a scene is awe-inspiring, not to mention the witty, self-deprecating narration of Tom that brings it all together.
They had this one moment in the beginning of the book, I can’t describe it because it would give it all away, but it was utterly heartbreaking. The character went from a guy I wasn’t too sure of, didn’t actually like, maybe kind of pitied, to a man I could really get behind, root for, and care about, with just one line:
“For just a moment I had a home.”
I stopped the audiobook and I cried, because it made Tom come into perspective and then shattered everything. That doesn’t happen often. It happens rarely, actually. The narration was done by the author, which is usually a red flag for me, but you can tell that Tom was and is part of Elan, so his narration was perfect. Not technically perfect, but it fit the mood, and the narrator’s voice.
The science of the book was another thing, the amount of research, technical knowledge, and brainpower that was required to write this novel was another accomplishment that I give props to the author for. I had to look up his bio to see if he had some sort of advanced degree with MIT or something, the science jargon was that convincing. But, no, he’s a writer, a screenwriter from Canada, who is currently working on the film adaptation of this book. That should be an interesting movie.
I can’t rave about everything, though. I did run into some issues. The author is quick and repetitive, with a jumping and often confusing pace, similar to Vonnegut, whom he mentions a few times within the pages, so I’m assuming he was trying to emulate. There is one scene which is a repetitive use of curse words over and over again, which I would have skimmed over in a book – but was forced to experience in full-force via the audiobook. The climax was also very confusing, and I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t go into detail, but there were moments when I was lost within the details. But, nothing that took away from the novel. My only advice when starting this book, give it time…let it sink in. Hopefully, you’ll love it as much as I did.
“We all have parts of ourself we want to cut away.”
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan MastaiPublished by Dutton Books on February 7th 2017
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction, Time-Travel
You know the future that people in the 1950s imagined we'd have? Well, it happened. In Tom Barren's 2016, humanity thrives in a techno-utopian paradise of flying cars, moving sidewalks, and moon bases, where avocados never go bad and punk rock never existed . . . because it wasn't necessary.
Except Tom just can't seem to find his place in this dazzling, idealistic world, and that's before his life gets turned upside down. Utterly blindsided by an accident of fate, Tom makes a rash decision that drastically changes not only his own life but the very fabric of the universe itself. In a time-travel mishap, Tom finds himself stranded in our 2016, what we think of as the real world. For Tom, our normal reality seems like a dystopian wasteland.
But when he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and—maybe, just maybe—his soul mate, Tom has a decision to make. Does he fix the flow of history, bringing his utopian universe back into existence, or does he try to forge a new life in our messy, unpredictable reality? Tom’s search for the answer takes him across countries, continents, and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be.
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