All Our Wrong Todays
by Elan Mastai.
Tom lives a aimless, drifting life in 2016. Except it’s not our 2016, it’s the 2016 that would exist if humans had discovered unlimited clean energy decades ago. In other words: the sci-fi future we’ve dreamed of since the 1950’s, complete with flying cars and moon bases. This power source has even led to a breakthrough in a new field: time travel. Tom’s father heads up that project, and got Tom a nominal job on the team in an attempt to give his life some structure. When a seemingly minor event dominoes into a major catastrophe for the timeline, Tom finds himself in a different 2016: ours. To him, it’s a dystopian wasteland. But certain parts of his life in this new reality are actually… better. He finds himself facing a choice between fixing the timeline and restoring the techno-utopia he came from (if he can), or forging a new life in this new reality.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s hard to discuss stories about time travel without giving things away, so forgive the semi-vagueness of this review. Tom as a narrator is funny and engaging. You sympathize with him, while also going ‘oh my god, you idiot!’ occasionally. There’s a good play of interpersonal dynamics and slight cause-and-effect plot twists. Events unfold (mostly) as realistically as they can, given the premise, but the author still manages to throw a few surprises in. It’s an entertaining and well-written story.
One of my favorite parts of this book is how the author deals with the classic time travel paradox: if you go back in time and change things, then return to your original time, wouldn’t things (namely: you) be completely different? I’m not going to give it away here. I’ll just say that it was a new way I’ve seen of handling that issue, and it was done well.
If you like time travel adventures with relatable narrators, give this a go. It just came out this week!
I give it 4.5/5 stars.
I received an advanced reading copy (ARC) of this book from Penguin Random House First Reads in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately (who, me?) and wanted to catch you up on some of the highlights. Here’s what I’ve enjoyed recently: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye. A Gothic retelling of Jane Eyre, this novel follows the protagonist through similar life events: an uncaring aunt, abusive schoolmaster, refuge in a country house as a governess with a brooding master. There is one big difference, though – this Jane has escaped each horrid circumstance by killing her tormentor, leaving a trail of bodies behind her. Is she truly wicked, or a victim fighting back against cruelty? Will […]
The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco. Tea finds out her magic isn’t like the other witches in her family in a decisive and unexpected way: she inadvertently raises her brother from the dead. This marks her as a bone witch, with power over death rather than one of the more common elements. She’s apprenticed to an older bone witch and moves to a training house in the city, to learn control over her powers and the duties of an asha (a powerful warrior witch that also functions something like a geisha). Her brother (her familiar) accompanies […]
Updraft (Bone Universe #1) by Fran Wilde. In a city high above the clouds, Kirit dreams of finally earning her wings. Flyers are the lifeblood of the city, and she longs to be a trader alongside her mother. A breach of the city’s rules, however, sees her instead conscripted into the Singers, the secretive governing body. She discovers that not only is there more to the city and its history than she’s been taught, but there’s more to her own history (and abilities) than she imagined as well. A dangerous secret and divides with the Singers’ Spire itself lead Kirit […]
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Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James. In this alternate England, magically-gifted aristocrats (Equals) rule the land, while ungifted commoners must serve 10 years as slaves. When in their life they serve those 10 years is up to them, but serve it they must. Not everyone is happy about this arrangement. The slavetowns are backbreaking and bleak, and it’s becoming more clear that being Skilled with magic is not the straight genetic shot everyone thought it was. Three young people find themselves in the midst, in different ways, of this political turmoil and magical hotbed. Luke, a teenage boy, […]
The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) by N.K. Jemisin. Sometime far, far in the future, Earth (is it Earth?) is unrecognizable. The landmasses have shifted into one big, volatile continent called The Stillness. Every few centuries or so, this volatility causes a fifth season. It’s a different animal from the other four (spring, summer, autumn, winter); always inhospitable to life, it can vary in its length (months, years, decades) and the specific calamity involved. This book opens at the dawning of a new fifth season. The story is told via 3 characters: Demaya, a young girl from the countryside; […]