Title: All Our Wrong Todays | Author: Elan Mastai | Publisher: Dutton Books | Pub. Date: 2017-2-7 | Pages: 384 | ISBN13: 9781101985144 | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the publisher for review consideration. | Purchase on Amazon
All Our Wrong Todays
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. – Goodreads
All Our Wrong Todays Review
I picked up All Our Wrong Todays because of the idea that our present – our truth – is the dystopia. I figured it would be a refreshing change to the glut of future and/or magical dystopias out there. I didn’t get what I was expecting. What Elan Mastai gave me was better.
There is a certain bluntness to the way the story is told that makes it feel almost raw and therefore more believable. Even though Mastai does employ a few typical tricks, he – the narrator – admits to doing so when he does them. That works surprisingly well.
All Our Wrong Todays isn’t really about the past, present, or future. Maybe that’s why it’s such a good story. It’s about Tom Barren, whom most everyone can recognize as the ‘never good enough’ that resides inside us. He’s not extremely intelligent, nor does he have a wealth of common sense. He’s not a hero, and he’s really not even that brave.
At the beginning, even though he’s a grown up, he’s not grown up. By the end of All Our Wrong Todays, he’s still not a hero, still not smart, and maybe a bit too feelsy, but he’s grown up. And watching him grow up? It’s addictive. You become invested in his now even as he’s trying to fix the past and future. I think if Tom was even a bit more ‘typical male as displayed in sci-fi books’ I wouldn’t have liked this book nearly as much as I did. But he’s not, and I did.
Elan Mastai is a talented author. His experience writing for film has definitely helped him in shaping All Our Wrong Todays into a gem that’s a lot more polished feeling than it otherwise would be from a debut author. He’s able to tell the story, poke at the human race, make us long for something we’ll probably never have, but convince us that maybe we might get there someday. It’s a book filled with quotable passages. Everything from stuff that makes you think to stuff that makes you snort. I’m only going to mention one, though:
People are despondent about the future because they’re increasingly aware that we, as a species, chased an inspiring dream that led us to ruin… The better things we build keep making it worse. The belief that the world is here for humans to control is the philosophical bedrock of our civilization, but it’s a mistaken belief. – Elan Mastai, All Our Wrong Todays
It’s not perfect. The relationship between Penelope and Tom is a bit too convenient/contrived. The very beginning and the end of their relationship is fine. It’s the middle that had me rolling my eyes a little bit. But Tom is young-ish and hormones are hormones, and hormones make you be stupid and/or see stupid. So it’s easy to move past.
The only other issue I had was that the endings just kept coming. The last five or six chapters all feel like they were the original last chapter, but he just couldn’t quite stop writing just a little bit more. It introduced an element of frustration that I hadn’t experienced with the book up until that point.
Overall, though, All Our Wrong Todays is a time-travel novel done right, and well worth picking up.