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All Our Wrong Todays

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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.

384 pages, Kindle Edition

First published February 7, 2017

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About the author

Elan Mastai

3 books855 followers
“All Our Wrong Todays” is Elan's award-winning first novel. It's been translated into 24 languages and is currently being adapted into a TV series by Universal and Peacock. In 2021, Elan was nominated for an Emmy for his work on the hit TV series "This Is Us", where he's a writer and co-executive producer. He's written and produced several feature films, most recently “What If”—also known as “The F Word”—a comedy starring Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver, Mackenzie Davis, Megan Park, and Rafe Spall. Elan was fortunate to win the Canadian Academy Award and the Writers Guild of Canada Award for his screenplay.

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Profile Image for Ash.
358 reviews224 followers
February 7, 2017
There are some clever ideas here, but the way this book is written is so obnoxious that a three star rating feels exceptionally generous.

All Our Wrong Todays is the story of Tom Barren, who travels back in time to the exact moment the future was born and fucks up the timeline so irretrievably that he winds up in our reality. Do you get it? Our very own lives are actually the dystopia? Anyway, the world is much worse but he winds up in a duplicate copy of his family that is much better than his original family; falls in love with a duplicate copy of his girlfriend who is much better than his original girlfriend; and narrowly avoids duplicating his original time travel accident, which would have created an even worse reality than this one.

The story is - I don't know. It's fine. It's a bunch of time travel nonsense, which I'm always really excited about and then never actually like. The way the story is told is very, very aggravating. This book is Tom's memoir, written for his soon-to-be-born child about how he saved the world but no one knows because, you know, time travel hijincks. The voice is exceptionally casual, as if you're on a date with Tom and he's telling you this batshit story, which highlights two of my primary issues: this is practically all telling, no showing, which is exhausting after a couple hundred pages; and there is SO MUCH lampshading. Tom acknowledges that he's annoying, unintelligent, and not a good writer. Tom even gave me the bad date analogy that I just used to describe reading this book. The fact that the author KNOWS about these issues with his character and writing style doesn't really make it any better that the main character is insufferable and the writing is severely lacking. At a certain point, I expect the author to just write a better book instead of acknowledging that this one isn't any good and expecting me to read it anyway.

The book also lampshades its own misogyny, and I'm just not here for it. Here are the main female characters and what happens to them:

Tom's original Mom: I can't remember her name. Rebecca? Anyway, she completely gives up on her life and dreams to serve his father, and then she is killed dramatically by a malfunctioning hovercar before Tom erases her reality.

Penelope, Tom's original girlthing: She is a VERY talented astronaut, but when she goes to space for the first time her brain just goes completely blank. She decides to be a time-traveler instead, and is super good at it, but then Tom gets her pregnant which prevents her from embarking on the first ever time travel mission, so she kills herself.

Penny, Tom's alternate universe girlthing: She is raped by one of Tom's timeline alter-egos who is inhabiting his body.

A Secretary: Also raped by Tom's alter-ego.

Four women from the original universe: I don't remember their names, but they're Tom's best friend and three ex-girlfriends who he manipulates into having sex with him because his mom died. He literally describes all of their personalities with the same three adjectives.

Elaine in the new universe: I think this was her name? Anyway she was having a time-travel affair with a genius scientist, which gave her cancer that pretty literally rotted her brain.

Tom's new sister: She thoughtlessly sold her app to people who wanted to abuse it for its ability to collect data so she's rich but very depressed and is currently doing nothing with her life.

Tom's new Mom: Nothing exceptionally horrible happens to her - she's very successful, because she didn't give up her dreams like his original mom, but the text implies that her success has prevented her husband from achieving the success he had in the original universe. Because women's success naturally detracts from men's success? I don't know.

The book takes a break, shortly after Tom enters the new universe, to allow Tom to come to terms with his own misogyny and how he treated his ex-girlfriends. It was a little off-base in the same way that this book is off-base. Like - you're going to have an entire chapter about how in Tom's future there was no misogyny, although the main character just spent several chapters unable to understand that each of his ex-girlfriends are separate people with different personalities, needs, wants, interests..? You're going to throw a chapter about gender equality into a book where all of the female characters are raped, murdered, mired in depression, or used solely for sex? Really?

I'm just so sick of reading books where horrible things happen to women and the story is somehow completely about Men Being Sad. Obviously terrible things happen to women all of the time in real life and no one cares, but I'm not going to ignore that someone sat down and wrote this book where the main character's body rapes several women, but it wasn't the real him and he feels REALLY bad about it, so it's okay. Just fuck off with it already.

The climactic scene, where Tom saves the world from becoming - you know - even worse, is fairly incoherent. Each different reality forms a different version of Tom, and they all end up sharing a body, which they are trying to control to get their desired outcome. But for some reason, the fight for control is a literal, physical altercation? People are running and throwing punches and memories are somehow tangible places and items at the same time and it just makes no sense.

Anyway, of course Tom wins and chooses this reality, so he takes over John's life. I don't know what happened to John. He wasn't very good at making friends, so apparently it's okay for a timeline impostor to take over his body. His family doesn't even miss him! I don't know, the implication that Tom deserves to live more than John does really doesn't sit well with me.

Anyway, the penultimate meaning of this book seems to be that our current reality isn't that great, but at least it isn't apocalyptically worse. It's a lazy, upsetting moral. The main character essentially wiped out our perfect future - where no one was starving and cancer was cured and there was apparently gender equality - to rocket us back to our current reality, but it's okay because now his girlfriend likes him more and his family is nicer? But just - what about everyone else? It's such a self-centered point of view. Like, "I know what's happening to Syria isn't great, but it could be a lot worse, and at least you're getting laid!" That's not a great message!

Anyway - I don't know. At least this was a really quick read, due both to that conversational aspect of the storytelling and to the fact that this book has OVER 130 CHAPTERS. They're all about two pages long, and although the chapter breaks are completely arbitrary, almost all of them have some kind of pithy cliffhanger at the end. It makes this book almost addictive: it will only take one minute to read the next chapter, so why not do it now? I hated that aspect of it, but it did keep me fairly invested, even against my will. I suspect that this will be a boon for people who aren't immediately and irreconcilably turned off by the writing style.

Some of the time travel concepts were really interesting, and some of the ideas about multiple realities were too, but after writing this review I think that three stars is much too high a rating. I suspect that I'll be in the minority here, but this book really didn't do anything for me.
Profile Image for Philip.
497 reviews667 followers
November 9, 2017
1.5ish stars.

Another time travel narrative used mostly as a vehicle to explore relationships or morality or whatever. If Dark Matter is the ultra-cool action thriller variety, this is the quirky rom-com/action thriller amalgamation.

It's got all the Ingredients: the everyman "I'm no hero" male lead; the twee, nerdy, but unconventionally beautiful and intelligent female lead who gets the male lead in a way that no one else can; the meet-cute naturally takes place at her book store, because awww; their instant love-at-first-sight soul bond that transcends space and time; the "light banter" and "witty repartee."

Problems with the ingredients: while the male lead is supposed to reform from a manipulative jerk with daddy issues to a charmingly self-deprecating and wholly relatable (but still obviously noble) average joe, his transformation is entirely too self-aware and maudlin- and he never stops being super annoying; the contrived witticisms don't land, and the weighty, heart-felt monologues would probably be more powerful with a moving soundtrack and some closeups of forced tears; Tom's lampshading that he's dumb and not a very good writer doesn't make up for the fact that he's pretty dumb and the writing isn't very good.

Bottom line: regardless of its content, a decent rom-com hinges on the charm and charisma of its leads. Too bad Tom/John is obnoxious. He's obnoxious and pretentious. He's obnoxious and pretentious and self-pitying. He's obnoxious and pretentious and self-pitying and really just not that interesting. Which pretty well describes the book as a whole.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,481 reviews29.4k followers
February 26, 2020
I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

If Back to the Future and Dark Matter had a baby, the end result would be Elan Mastai's slightly crazy, tremendously compelling All Our Wrong Todays . While it's not as zany as the former, or as heart-pounding as the latter, it's a really creative, thought-provoking book with a lot more heart than you'd expect from a novel about time travel.

Tom Barren lives in 2016, but it's not quite the 2016 we all know—it's more like the vision of the future we all had when we were growing up, the vision that science fiction and fantasy novels we might have read or movies we might have watched made us believe was a possibility. You know, flying cars, a world where your needs for sustenance, grooming, fashion, and activities are fulfilled with the touch of a button.

"Today, in the year 2016, humanity lives in a techno-utopian paradise of abundance, purpose, and wonder."

But given this paradisaical existence, why isn't Tom happy? His father is the leading authority on time travel, who can barely hide his disdain for his ne'er-do-well son, and he's about to unveil a major advance in that field, one that could further change the world for the better. Yet Tom destroys every professional opportunity, every personal relationship, every situation he gets involved in. And he couldn't care less.

One night, Tom suddenly thinks he gets what he has always wanted. Yet his actions have unexpected consequences, consequences which lead him to recklessly travel back in time 50 years, when the discovery which set the world on the path to utopia it currently enjoys. But much as everything Tom touches, this, too, goes awry, and while Tom is able to return to 2016, it's no longer the world he knows—it's our 2016 instead. And Tom (whose name is apparently John in this alternate version of 2016) finds a new version of his family, which actually seems more appealing than the one he left, and another version of the woman of his dreams, who is apparently smitten with him as well.

Should he stay in this version of 2016, even though he knows it is wrong, and that his actions have utterly changed the course of history, or should he try and figure out how to set things right and return the world back to the utopia it has known, even if his life kinda sucks? Given the fact that almost no one believes his stories about the world he's from, it's going to require a lot of convincing, a lot of fighting the alternate versions of himself, and tracking down the original genius who started it all.

"So, how do you go about changing the last five decades of history in a world where time travel is considered an amusing thought experiment? Even if the science existed, in the absence of crucial advances in related fields—teleportation, immateriality, invisibility, even simple component manufacturing—the whole endeavor is futile."

While at times the book got a little too technical and/or confusing, All Our Wrong Todays really made me think. How would you deal with a reunion with a loved one you've lost, even if they're not the exact person you knew? If the world around you seems happy, why do you have to put aside your own happiness—something you've never truly felt—to restore a different kind of happiness? (It's amazing the questions you ponder in a book about time travel.)

I found this really entertaining and utterly fascinating. I think this book would make one hell of a movie, and it really is an interesting book to read after Dark Matter , because it confronts some of the same themes. If you like books about time travel, saving the world, and a good, healthy dose of personal and family dysfunction, this is one for you. It definitely was for me!

NetGalley and Dutton provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
Profile Image for Kogiopsis.
759 reviews1,468 followers
April 15, 2017
I’ve struggled for a while to review this book because, on the one hand, I detested it and I don’t want to spend extra time thinking about it - but on the other hand, it has a baffling number of high-star reviews, and honestly that annoys me. There’s nothing good going on here; the plot quickly strays from its promised time-travel based moral quandary into shallow romance, a slapdash secondary conflict, and a saccharine ending. And the writing? The writing is miserably pretentious.

The thing is, the blurb promises a much more complex, interesting book. A character who is forced to choose between timelines must also decide how to value human lives - does someone living in paradise have more right to exist than someone who suffers? How does one person handle the weight of that situation, where even inaction is choice?

I’d still like to read that book, by the way. If someone out there who’s actually versed in sci-fi writes it, give me a heads up. Because that’s one of the things about All Our Wrong Todays that got under my skin first - it reads like Mastai is using the science fiction elements as window dressing for the story he actually wants to tell, which is basically about a less-than-ordinary guy achieving his dream life with very little actual effort. Which… alright, whatever. You want to write your boring fantasies down, fine - but why even bother to try and present that as more interesting than it is? Why introduce time travel into the equation if you don’t intend to really use it?

(I’ll save the soapbox on speculative fiction as a tool for exploration of humanity for later. Just let it be known that I hate the idea that SF/F concepts are nothing more than shiny toys, because that’s literally never been true.)

On top of that, Mastai’s attempt at SF worldbuilding is… bad. Abysmal. Short-sighted, shallow, flashy without any thought or depth, and obnoxiously preening. This… this part might get long.

Retrofuturism, in and of itself, I find completely fascinating - in no small part because of the gaps between where people thought we’d be by the 2000s, and where we are. Those gaps often reflect unpredictable social change or scientific discoveries, the stochasticity of life that demands we constantly change our world-views. Mastai’s utopia lacks this complexity and richness. Instead, he slaps a bunch of retrofuturism stereotypes down and calls it good, never addressing all the changes in the world that happened in the intervening decades. The concepts he uses originate in the 1950s, and there are just a few little things that happened between then and 2016…

- The U.S. Civil Rights Movement
- The Vietnam War
- Most of the Cold War
- The spread of AIDS
- The fall of the Berlin Wall
- China’s Cultural Revolution
- Nuclear proliferation
- The Iranian Revolution

As any student of history can tell you, none of these events happened in a vacuum. All of them were the result of processes that started long before Mastai’s fictional ‘Goettreider Engine’ is said to have been invented in 1965. And… none of them are addressed. Did the USSR collapse in the utopian timeline? Did unlimited energy somehow undermine Mao Zedong? Did it solve problems of race relations around the world? (Even if Mastai didn’t want to address civil rights in the States, his book is set in Canada, where a variety of injustices against First Nations peoples led to the Idle No More movement as recently as 2012. That didn’t come out of nowhere.)

It gets a little more ridiculous when you look specifically at the technology to which he attributes this utopia. The Goettreider Engine produces unlimited free energy - even if we accept the vague science behind this, which Mastai tries to handwave, how does this lead to broad social changes and fix the world’s problems? How does it lead to teleportation and flying cars when energy isn’t the limiting factor in developing those technologies now? (One of the core questions of teleportation now is ‘would a teleported person actually be the same person?’ which gets at both philosophical concepts of the soul and the root mechanisms behind memory/personality. Regular cars that are driverless are a regulatory/safety issue - flying cars have to overcome that and physics.)

And then there’s this:
“Imagine that the last five decades happened with no restrictions on energy. No need to dig deeper and deeper into the ground and make the skies dirtier and dirtier. Nuclear became unnecessarily tempestuous. Coal and oil pointlessly murky. Solar and wind and even hydropower became quaint low-fidelity alternatives that nobody bothered with unless they were peculiarly determined to live off the main grid.”

This is a prime example of short-sighted worldbuilding. Putting coal and oil out of business also means destroying the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people around the world, not to mention disrupting the economies of every nation in OPEC for a start. Nuclear weapons would still be around, because that’s what nuclear energy was developed for and no amount of free electricity detracts from their destructive power. And there isn’t really a way to store or transmit energy cleanly - batteries and e-waste would still be a source of pollution. This change wouldn’t happen fast or easily - it would be a political mess, both domestically and internationally, and there would be a tremendous social upheaval and restructuring as a result.

...Not to mention the fact that while unlimited energy solves one of the world’s problems, it is by no means a panacea. Water and food are both key, limited resources and sources of conflict. Religion and history will both always be flash points. Diseases can’t be electrocuted out of existence.

My point is this: if Mastai were actually interested in exploring the science fiction concepts he invoked in this book, the utopian world of Tom Barren’s original timeline would be vastly different in a variety of ways and would, in fact, probably not be utopian at all as a result - and that in and of itself would have strengthened the book by adding more moral ambiguity to the histories of the respective worlds. Instead, Mastai chose a flat, boring alternate future, and informs the reader that Tom has never cut into an overripe avocado as if that’s a more pressing question than whether one in nine people, largely in developing countries, still face food insecurity.

So, say you get past the worldbuilding issues. What awaits you on the other side?

Well… mostly faux-deep hipster garbage from the point of view of a grating, obnoxious character. And yes, Tom is supposed to be grating and obnoxious, but that doesn’t make reading his viewpoint any more enjoyable. We hear a lot about his sexual exploits, none of which are relevant to the plot and a lot of which reduce the women involved to little more than cardboard cutouts - literally, four in a row are described as “funny and smart and mischievous and sweet” in a sentence which, while poetic, is staggeringly reductive.

There’s also a lot of generic ~artsy depression~ complaining, and - look, I’m not averse to reflecting on the struggles of being human, but I do take issue with a supposedly utopian society which has a startling dearth of therapists and adequate mental health systems. There are several instances when characters verge on discussing therapy as an option, but they never quiiiite make it. At one point Tom even says that “mental illness and substance abuse existed, but they were managed as health care issues,” which sounds good, except for the fact that it’s all tell and no show. Tom, his parents, Penelope - all of them clearly would benefit from psychological treatment of some kind, but none of them even try to get it.

And oh, let’s talk about Penelope.

Penelope (or ‘Penny’ in the non-utopian timeline) is part of a pattern this book has, where every single significant female character seems to exist mostly to have their lives destroyed by a man. Tom’s mother’s entire career and life is subsumed to her husband’s needs, and yet she never leaves or stands up to herself. Penelope is brilliant, talented, and gorgeous - and prone to sex as a self-destructive behavior, leading her to a one-night stand with Tom. (More on this later. I’m still furious.) Penny, her alt-timeline counterpart, is sweet and innocent and dorky and almost instantly falls into bed with Tom, which doesn’t go well for her. Ursula Francoeur, the love of Lionel Goettreider’s life, gets brain cancer because he abuses his technology to perpetuate their affair. For those keeping score, two out of four women die as a direct result of their relationships with male characters; Tom’s mother makes an arguable third. Only Penny survives, and she gets brutally raped.

Penelope’s death was, for me, the first sign that this book wouldn’t even manage mediocrity. When a one-night stand with Tom results in pregnancy, she can no longer fill her role as a cosmonaut because there’s a variation in her cellular makeup so… she commits suicide by time travel tech. There’s enough wrong here with the basic premise of ‘competent female character kills herself after having sex with Main Dude’, especially in that her death is the catalyst for the rest of the plot, but that’s not even the final nail in the coffin. No, that comes from comments like this:

We could’ve brought a life into this world of wonders and that life could’ve changed us both, made us better, fixed the broken clocks inside our brains that wouldn’t let us be happy when happiness was within reach.


She touched her stomach. I like to think that’s the moment she changed her mind and decided to have our baby and become a family.

There’s a whoooole side rant here about the idea that a baby can fix its parents’ psychological and relationship issues and how dangerous and destructive it is to parents and child alike, and if I had the space in this review I’d go into it but… yuck. I feel like it should be self-explanatory that a child is a person first, not a magical cure-all, but apparently, that’s a difficult concept for some people.

Fundamentally it gets at another persistent problem of this book: Tom doesn’t really consider people other than himself. His brief relationship with Penelope is about his desires and insecurities, and he doesn’t consider hers. His later pursuit of Penny in the alternate timeline is also about him, not her - he’s convinced that because she’s another version of Penelope, they’re meant to be together. Conveniently, the climax arranges itself so that he never has to actually choose between his utopian world and our ‘alternate’ 2016, so he doesn’t really have to struggle with his own happiness vs. the greater good - the central question the book’s synopsis seemed to promise.

This comes into sharp relief after Tom rapes Penny. And yes, ‘technically’ it’s not him, but another alternate-world version of his consciousness inhabiting his body and blah blah blah, but from her perspective? It’s him. It’s this possibly crazy stranger she let into her life and trusted and started to feel something for - that’s the guy who assaults her in her own bed before she’s even awake.

The book doesn’t call it rape. Nor does it call what Tom does to one of his assistants in the same chapter - getting her drunk and coercing her back to his apartment to sleep with him - anything as strong as sexual assault. “I know I went along with all of it. I just wanted it to be over,” she says later, and those words made me nauseous.

When Tom returns to his own body, though, the aftermath is entirely centered around him and his feelings - validating the idea that it wasn’t ‘really him’ even though, to both women, it was. Their reactions are important inasmuch as they change his relationships with them (particularly Penny). As individuals who have been through a traumatic experience - they barely exist. This chapter is a horrific and jarring reading experience, and all of that seems to serve only to motivate Tom into progressing the plot. It’s callous, cheap, and sickening.

If you strip this story down to its bare bones, it’s… literally just about a mediocre, uninteresting middle-aged man who gets wealth, career success, and a woman handed to him. Oh, sure, there’s lip service to the idea that John has grown and reflected on his actions, but that’s only told and never shown. The later revelation that this entire story is recounted in retrospect makes it worse, because we should be able to see evidence of his growth in the narration, but it’s just not there. The Tom who tells the story is no more mature than the past self he describes.

To finish this up, a tasting menu of my absolute faaaavorite quotes.

5. The metaphor clusterfuck
“I’m not much of a Freudian, but something about fame makes the id and the superego devour the ego like anacondas in a cage, right before they cannibalize each other. Fame warps your identity, metastasizes your anxieties, and hollows you out like a jack-o’-lantern. It’s sparkly pixie dust that burns whatever it touches like acid.”

4. The 101-word sentence of word vomit
But around the dinner table - while I sup up the remains of the ratatouille with crusty spelt bread and my mom takes the dessert she baked out of the oven and my sister opens another bottle of sauvignon blanc and Penny listens to my dad with guileless interest while her foot occasionally presses down on mine under the table - he can speak openly without fear of any ridicule more acrid than the exasperated sighs Greta doesn’t bother to conceal as she accidentally splits half the cork into the bottle because her fine motor skills decrease exponentially with each glass of wine.

3. In the Ideal Future, people don’t smile anymore
My fifteen employees started applauding and flexing their zygomaticus muscles to bare their teeth and gums, which makes me recoil until I realize they’re smiling at me.

2. Give your ex your genetic material so they can fuck your clone
Like, okay, in my world, when you break up with someone, it’s considered gracious to offer the person you dumped a lock of hair so that, if they want, they can get a genetically identical surrogate grown for whatever purposes they need to get over you. It has no consciousness, but it looks exactly like you and can be used for rudimentary physiological functions. Like, you know, sex.

1. Optimism is totally the same thing as manifest destiny
The belief that the world is here for humans to control is the philosophical bedrock of our civilization, but it’s a mistaken belief. Optimism is the pyre on which we’ve been setting ourselves aflame.

The conclusion of All Our Wrong Todays suggests that Mastai was aiming to communicate the idea that there’s no one right way to live your life, and I have to say that I agree and think that’s an important message. But this delivery of it has no redeeming features whatsoever. Don’t waste your time.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
March 7, 2020
3.5ish stars for this time travel/alternate timelines novel. Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Tom Barren lives in a near-utopian version of our world in 2016, the world that Disney and science fiction optimistically imagined in the 1950s that we would one day have, complete with flying cars, ray guns, space vacations, and other Amazing Stories and Jetson-like technology. There’s a single compelling reason for this: in 1965, a man named Lionel Goettreider invented an engine that produced unlimited clean energy, in the process giving himself a fatal dose of radiation, but also becoming a historic figure on the level of Albert Einstein or Sir Isaac Newton.

Tom is a disappointment to his father, unsuccessful in life, his career, and love. But his father, a genius who has invented a method of time travel, gives Tom a job in his lab after his wife and Tom’s mother dies, not expecting him to amount to anything. Tom is assigned to be the understudy for Penelope Weschler, the career-driven team leader for the very first time travel mission, to watch the initial 1965 experiment with the Goettreider Engine, as invisible witnesses. Penelope and Tom have a one-night stand the night before the mission, and Penelope becomes pregnant, instantly changing her genetic composition and disqualifying her for the mission.

In the fallout, Tom rebelliously activates the time machine with himself as the only passenger, sending himself back to 1965 and inadvertently changing the result of Goettreider’s initial experiment. The emergency return function in the time-travel apparatus activates and sends Tom back to 2016 ― but he awakes in our world, with a kinder and gentler father, a mother who is still alive, a sister he never had before, a more personable and relaxed version of Penelope … and a polluted, conflict-ridden world that appalls him. Tom intends to fix his mistake and bring back the world he is familiar with, but as he develops new relationships in our world, he’s torn between these two versions of his world.

All Our Wrong Todays (2017) begins rather slowly, with an extended setup that could have been tightened up, and the sad, incompetent version of Loser Tom further drags down the story with his whining and self-pity. But once the actual time travel occurs about 25% of the way in, the pace picks up, the element of suspense kicks in, Tom somewhat inexplicably develops a more attractive and engaging personality (though a reason for that is suggested much later in the story), and this novel turned into a quick, gripping read that was almost impossible to put down.

All Our Wrong Todays is a time travel/alternate timelines science fiction novel that actually pays some serious attention to the paradoxes and theoretical difficulties with time travel. For example, Elan Mastai directly addresses the problem that the earth’s movement in space creates for would-be time travelers.
Marty McFly didn’t appear thirty years earlier in his hometown of Hill Valley, California. His tricked-out DeLorean materialized in the endless empty blackness of the cosmos with the Earth approximately 350,000,000,000 miles away. … The Terminator would probably survive in space because it’s an unstoppable robot killing machine, but traveling from 2029 to 1984 would’ve given Sarah Connor a 525,000,000,000-mile head start.
The Gottreider Engine provides an unanticipated anchor, a bread crumb trail of tau radiation that can be followed through space and time. It’s an ingenious solution.

Mastai combines his periodic forays into the theoretical aspects of time travel and alternate timelines, with a suspenseful plot and some surprisingly insightful writing that helps to ground Tom’s breezy, conversational narrative voice. At different times All Our Wrong Todays reminded me strongly of both Stephen King's 11/22/63 and Blake Crouch's Dark Matter. Despite its slow start, overall it’s a solid science fiction novel and an enjoyable, absorbing read.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a review. Thank you!
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
526 reviews57.7k followers
February 6, 2018
This Sci Fi had a few very interesting ideas!

I did listen to it as an audiobook and even though the author did a great job at narrating it, I would recommend reading the physical copy of it. One chapter consisted mostly of "F*ck" and a few passages were backward... not ideal to listen to!

I had a few issues with it that I'll explain in my Wrap Up at the end of the month since I'm having a hard time explaining them here!
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,741 followers
July 5, 2019
4.5 stars (rounding to 5 because I want people to check this one out!)

This was the perfect book to read after Recursion. And, I had no clue how similar it would be. In fact, if you just finished Recursion and you are looking for something just like it, give this one a try!

I would describe this debut novel from Mastai as a cross between the aforementioned Blake Crouch and Andy Weir (The Martian and Artemis). The reason I mention Weir is that the main character of this book (narrator) is self-deprecating, sarcastic, and very humorous. While Crouch and Weir may have a similar sci-fi feel, Weir is the one who brings humor, sarcasm, etc. into the mix. If you prefer that your sci-fi not come with a healthy dose of humor, this is not the book for you.

This book was enough like Recursion that as I read the last few chapters today, I was having trouble remembering if certain plot points happened in it or All Our Wrong Todays. I mention in my review of Recursion that I cannot say too much without spoilers, and that is the case here. Just know that it deals with some mind-blowing theoretical science and questions about the delicate nature of reality and humanity. If you count speculative sci-fi as a favorite of yours, get this book on your TBR.

Part of me thinks it might be a bit unfair that I mentioned Recursion (oh! Did it again!) so much in this review. I do like to give everyone a good point of reference and I am always happy to give it more publicity, but I don’t want to detract from how good this book was as well. I am hoping that my frequent mentions of Crouch’s book will draw more attention to this book which, until about a month ago, I had never heard of and ended up with because I just happened to pick up a copy when trying to find a book for someone else. In this case, I was very lucky, and I hope my review draws a few more readers to All Our Wrong Todays.
Profile Image for Sam.
142 reviews309 followers
February 10, 2017
Every person you meet introduces the accident of that person to you. What can go right and what can go wrong. There is no intimacy without consequence.

To get it out of the way, there's a lot of set up in All Our Wrong Todays, and it took me a bit to find a feel for this book and fall into it. But once Mastai gets past the set up and things are happening, the smart, funny prose and more realized characters propelled me forward, and even if the stakes and thrills aren't seemingly as high as in Dark Matter (to which this will be inevitably compared, and I'm guilty too), it's so well written and fresh and does time travel well but doesn't rely on it for its overall success, hitting the familiar beats but also introducing new concepts and ideas. And this book worked me on an emotional level: I laughed, I cried (seriously), I rooted for success and cowered in moments of failure. I do think that books work differently for different people depending on so many factors: mood, personal life, setting, etc. The book has its own strengths and weaknesses, but it's the individual reader who determines how these things coalesce or not into a whole, and the reader's particular background at the moment of experience is critical to informing what the reader brings to the book. So for me, All Our Wrong Todays was exactly the right read at the right time for my raw, sad, flailing self seeing the ending of one world and the dawning of an unknown future that simply feels wrong. All Our Wrong Todays wears its heart and brain on its sleeve, and by the end I was completely charmed, captivated, and bowled over with feeling.

Death is slippery. Our minds can't latch onto it. Over time, you learn to accommodate the gap in your life that the loss opens up. Like a black hole, you know it's there because it's the spot from which no light escapes. And there's the sinewy exhaustion, the physical toll of grief that you just can't seem to sleep away.

The intro is the tough bit: where a lot of the science behind the conceit is laid out, where we're exposed to the version of 2016 we all "should" be living in, where our protagonist (and the person who totally screwed up existence for all of us) Tom Barren introduces himself, his family, his world, and all the circumstances that lined up just so for his world to be created, and then for him to completely undo everything in a rash move out of grief and pettiness. These early parts are difficult going, and I stopped reading the novel for awhile and had to restart because I couldn't quite get into it. Tom is a bit pathetic on the whole, and since the perspective is first person, he comes off very whiny, mostly clueless, and seems like a hapless half-wit overall. That said, the writing is good, and sometimes we get early glimpses at Tom's expanded observational and emotional capacity. But until he finally moves back in time, and then is shot forward into the future, after having (somewhat unknowingly) changed critical moments from his history, we're at a high concept stage with somewhat shaky execution.

People talk about grief as emptiness, but it's not empty. It's full. Heavy. Not an absence to fill. A weight to pull. Your skin caught on hooks chained to rough boulders made of all the futures you thought you would have. How do you keep five decades of love from souring into a snakebite that makes your own heart the threat, drawing the poison up and down the length of you?

Once Tom awakens in "our" version of 2016 though, everything began firing on all cylinders for me. Tom himself matures in how he thinks and interacts with others, and "our" versions of Tom's family and the love of his life/lives Penelope are so much more dynamic, interesting, and fully present in the narrative. They wrestle with Tom's confusion and alienation in real, funny, and emotional ways. And ultimately it's the characters I responded to most: no spoilers since it's in the blurb, but the alternate family and soul mate of our 2016 are so well drawn, to the point that I better understood the earlier, sketchier set up of the "true" family, to better serve as foils for the versions from our universe the reader will respond to. Greta, Penny, and Tom's mother are all really fun characters to see Tom interact with, and while Penny and Tom's mother have counterparts that we can contrast them to (mostly very favorably), Greta is a unique creation to "our" universe, and brings so much to the table as a character and in some ways as a plot device. It's Greta's singularity and the key differences between the versions of the characters that forces Tom to re-think "fixing" his mistake, and makes his assertion of his personality over that of his alternate self so key, and later leads to his ability to accept the various aspects of himself and of varying realities.

"What I'm saying is, my imagination is trained, ok? I've considered many other lives that I could be living instead of this one. I've luxuriated in what seemed at the time to be outrageously improbable possibilities for who I could be instead of who I am. And now you show up, telling me all the dopey, delusional fantasies I harbored as a frustrated adolescent and sheepish adult were, what, unambitious? That the life I'm supposed to lead is so far beyond anything I was even capable of imagining for myself? That I'm a fucking lioness living like a mouse?"

I won't talk too much about the plot, other than to say that as Tom grapples with what he's done, and then discovers that others may have messed with timelines as well, he has to figure out what he's willing to do, who he's willing to lose, to set things right. And what is right anymore? And is doing what's right what's best for Tom, or for Lionel, or for Penny, or for the millions who exist in the "true" 2016, or for the millions who exist in "our" 2016? And that's when Tom finally steps into the shoes of a hero (somewhat), though Mastai doesn't do it in a hackneyed or trite way. It's a smart, circular climax and resolution, as befitting our temporal anchor and the larger worlds we've been navigating throughout.

I'll also say that the writing and references are fun, witty, sly, engaging. It's no accident that Tom's love across two versions of reality is Penelope/Penny: much like Odysseus, Tom toils and makes substantive efforts to return to the woman he loves. The Kurt Vonnegut as master philosopher in one version of the universe is a great nod to that writer's influence on Mastai, and even the meta novel within a novel and memoir within a novel tropes get played with lightly and to good effect in All Our Wrong Todays. There's a love of writing, and of words that Mastai himself and his characters embrace fully in the novel, and hopefully some of the quotes I've worked in throughout help to displaying his talent.

In principle, I realize that heroism demands sacrifice. But I didn't understand what I'd actually have to sacrifice. Write a list of the things you can't imagine giving up and that's the list of things you'll be forced to lose. Except you couldn't even draw up the list, because they're all the things you take for granted as essential elements of yourself. They don't seem removable from what makes you who you are.

Bottom line: I loved the writing and found it engaging and well observed once getting past the somewhat clunky exposition. I really liked the characters, Tom growing on me as he grew in the novel, and his family and loved ones were very compelling, and the depths of his attachment to all versions of them left no doubt that he would do everything in his power to fight for them, for all of them. And mostly, the ideas of what life one should or shouldn't be living, causality and choice, luck and ambition and drive, love over everything... the ideas are peppered in throughout which for me led to an emotionally charged read. I'm probably a 4.5 stars because of how much I really enjoyed this, but wouldn't be five stars since it was a bit touch and go at first if I could make it through the first third of the novel. Overall, a great read I'd recommend, most certainly for fans of literary sci-fi or general fiction readers who don't mind sci-fi, knowing that it uses time travel as a framing device for contemporary fiction. For fans of Dark Matter, this is not a thriller like that book was: it's slower, less twist-y, less dangerous, and in some ways plays with lower stakes since it's the fate of the universe we deal with here, not one intimate man and woman and child, so it may not be for you. But I could absolutely see people who enjoyed Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore or Station Eleven liking this read: high concept, fantastic writing, a love of all things literary, and compelling ideas about human nature and life and love, with a bold dash of the speculative.

Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,912 followers
February 10, 2017
I'm always on the prowl for a good time-travel and alternate-reality kick, so when this one slid by me, blaring on its speakers that it was a very self-aware member of its species, I just had to turn my head an look.

I'm so glad I did. :) Hell, I even considered just reading the first couple of pages and then putting it off until closer to its actual publication date. It's months away! And yet, I went ahead and read it because I got sucked in.

It's a memoir. Yes. An alternate reality memoir with several time-machine encounters. So we're told not to expect any of the old tropes of "novelization".

We're dealing with a man's demons. The things he's done. The things he hasn't done. How he's treated people in his life, etc.

And it was fascinating even as I was getting anxious to get to the time travel bits. I was annoyed because Tom's voice was annoying and he kept repeating himself and he didn't seem like all that nice a guy. And yet, we're told that he's confronting his demons, so we sit back and try to be patient for the grand cataclysm that he's teased that he'd caused.

And then it happens. All the little build-ups, all the memories, all the little crappy things he's done comes back to show us that he'd been living in a freaking utopia. :) Everything else gets darker and more real at this point. And then all that talk about ex-girlfriends and his one encounter with Penelope that tipped him over the edge to do his utterly reckless *thing* then becomes a reason for living and continuing... and here it comes...

A love story?

Yes. A love story. A time-traveling alternate-dimensional love story with apocalyptic undertones.

And then Tom's voice becomes charming at long last. :)

Too bad the demons are still out to play.

This novel, ahem, memoir, just kept getting better and better. I really loved it by the end. I'm not saying it doesn't have its flaws, but those flaws are *worked* into the text and the author's skill at turning them into something beautiful cannot be underemphasized.

I'm so glad I didn't put this off. It's well-worth reading. Even from a straight SF standpoint, the author goes much deeper into paradoxes and consequences than I usually see in these kinds of novels.

But the real joy is in the characters. There's some real depth here.

Thanks goes to Netgalley for the ARC!

Profile Image for Taryn.
325 reviews294 followers
January 16, 2018
3.5 Stars. I read this at a very appropriate time because I’ve recently been getting the strange sensation that I’m living in the wrong timeline! ;) I'm going to avoid specific details about the story's path, but here's a review summary for those who don't want to know as little as possible: The tone is lighthearted and self-aware, making it an entertaining read. The main character and his love life didn't excite me, but I loved the technology, the exploration of different realities, and the questions it raised. The first half was slow because Tom was at max-whininess, but the pace picked up in the second half.

This is how the world changes—two strangers experience a crackle of chemistry.

Tom Barren (32) is from the world we were supposed to have, a technologically-advanced utopia with flying cars and space vacations. Unfortunately, Tom screwed that up for all of us when he traveled back in time to witness the moment that made his world possible. He wakes up in the wrong todayour present. His life is surprisingly more fulfilling, but he feels guilty about erasing the lives of millions of people. Should his loyalties be to the people in his original world or the four people who make his new life so much better? Is salvaging his old world even possible? Everyone is skeptical of Tom's story. Could Tom's memories of a Tomorrowland-like reality be delusions? How can he prove that his memories are real without advanced technology of his original world?

"The most complex physics question [is] a breeze compared to the contradictions of the human heart.”

All Our Wrong Todays reminded me so much of Kurt Vonnegut, even before the first Vonnegut reference. The conversational writing style, the absurdity, the way backstories are told, and the use of science fiction to say something larger about humanity. There's even a scene that happens backward, which reminded me of Slaughterhouse-Five. It turns out that Vonnegut is considered an important philosopher in Tom's high-tech world. The author also pokes some good-natured fun at the science fiction genre, and sometimes his own book. He addresses the big problem with most time travel stories, which I had never thought about!

This is how you discover who someone is. Not the success. Not the result. The struggle. The part between the beginning and the ending that is the truth of life.

My favorite part was the mythos surrounding Lionel Goettreider and the Goettreider Engine. The Goettreider Engine is a machine that harnesses the earth’s rotation to generate energy. This invention resulted in everyone's basic needs being met, so all people need to worry about is being comfortable and entertained. Of course, all the technology in the world can't sort out the messiness of human emotions! In terms of the 'main event', I loved the contrast of the romanticized version Tom learned in school versus what actually happened.

"It’s amazing how much damage one penis can do.”

While the technical aspects of the story immediately appealed to me, I had a harder time with the central character. First-person, single point of view made this a difficult issue to overcome. Tom is my least favorite type of character—a narcissistic, self-described loser who all these women keep sleeping with. He’s completely aware of how repetitive and whiny he is, but that doesn't stop him! Sometimes it was hard to get too annoyed with him, because he'd read my mind every time I'd start to have a negative thought. A favorite line halfway through: "Maybe right now you’re thinking— okay, why isn’t this story over? Everything kind of worked out for this jackass.” His self-awareness was a little endearing; he apologizes for his narcissism taking over the narrative and not delivering the time-travel book you were expecting. I also wasn't emotionally invested in the soulmate situation. The lusty infatuation solidified into love so quickly that I never felt an urgency for them to be together in any timeline. I was captivated by another love affair that plays a central role in the story, simply because of quiet moment in a lab.

When you invent a new technology, you also invent the accident of that technology.
. . . .
The Accident doesn’t just apply to technology, it also applies to people. Every person you meet introduces the accident of that person to you. What can go right and what can go wrong. There is no intimacy without consequence.

Like much science fiction, one of the best parts were the questions it made me ponder. Tom draws several parallels between the fantastic aspects of his story and the ordinary lives we lead. Existing in multiple realities is not just something that happens in a science fiction. As Tom matures, he sees how everyone is complicated and contradictory. We all consist of different versions of ourselves, even some versions we'd rather do without. Our choices can create new realities and significant emotional experiences (like heartbreak) can make a hidden version of a person dominant. He sees that time travel isn't necessary to destroy a world. Tom has to learn for himself that beliefs not backed by action are useless and to never stop being open to different possibilities. There's actually a lot of messages and I think I'd have more trouble narrowing it down to the most important one if Tom didn't explicitly state what he wanted us to take away from his story. The central messages I walked away with are: (1) there's no such thing as the life you are supposed to lead & (2) trying to control your world/life can have disastrous consequences.

That’s the magic trick of creating life—it takes every bad decision you ever made and makes them necessary footsteps on the treacherous path that brought you home.

While searching for more about a potential film, I found this quote from Elan Mastai's pitch letter to publishers: "Imagine if Kurt Vonnegut had decided to tell a story like The Time Traveler's Wife with the narrative voice of Jonathan Tropper." I can't really sum it up better than that! Tom could be exhausting at times and I didn't feel a strong emotional pull towards him or his love life, but All Our Wrong Todays is entertaining and even made me laugh! I recommend it to anyone looking for an amusing book that allows you to explore new worlds and makes you think. I think Vonnegut fans who read contemporary literary fiction will enjoy it.

I want to say this devoid of any context: I loved Greta!

I received this book for free from Netgalley and PENGUIN GROUP Dutton. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. The publication date is February 7, 2017.
Profile Image for Andrew Smith.
1,035 reviews570 followers
April 29, 2020
What would it be like to live in a world where all of your needs are taken care of, where cars fly, teleportation exists and menial tasks such as showering, dressing and preparing meals are just completed for you, almost by magic. Well this is the world Tom Barren lives in. It’s 2016 but back in 1965 something called the Goettreider Engine was invented – and it was a game changer. It worked by harnessing the energy created by the movement of the planet itself and it’s so powerful that it’s made every other power source redundant. It also sparked a technology revolution that’s brought about this utopian state.

But Tom’s not a happy chap. He doesn’t have a woman in his life and he’s struggling to come to terms with the fact that his mother was killed by a flying car that fell out of the sky. To add insult to injury, he’s unfulfilled in terms of his career - he works for his father, who seems to employ him purely out of a sense of familial loyalty. And his job? Well, he’s training to be a time traveller. Yes, his genius dad has invented a time travel device and Tom is a backup for the team leader. Of course there’s no chance that he’ll actually get to pilot this device – but then, the best laid plans…

I won’t go into too much of the detail but suffice to say Tom is given the opportunity to see what his world would have looked like without the invention of the Goettreider engine. Things have worked out very differently for him and his family. In this parallel world, Tom is forced to make choices and it’s not as straightforward as you might think. Yes, there are many advantages of the techno-utopia he’s come from but this low tech world with it’s ‘dirty’ energy and a distinct lack of comparative home comforts still has something to offer.

The dialogue is sharp and witty and the whole thing is permeated with enough science that it makes Tom’s experiences feel rather more believable than you might think. I didn’t understand the science, of course, but it did provide a smidgen of belief that there is more to this time travel thing than hard-core sceptics would have you think. Well, I’m trying to convince myself of that anyway!

It’s an enjoyable romp. It’s certainly not fault free and in Tom I’m not sure that the author has created the most likeable of characters. But maybe that’s the point, perhaps we’re not expected to like him. My problem with this is that despite becoming gripped by the narrative I didn’t feel particularly invested in the fate of our lead man. That said, there’s a lot going on here and I do applaud the imagination and thought that’s gone into producing a book that I found entertaining and which also forced me to think a little more deeply about the world in which I live. Definitely one for time all time travel aficionados and and anyone who’s just in the mood for something different.

My thanks to Penguin UK and NetGalley for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Justin.
273 reviews2,249 followers
July 13, 2017
All Our Wrong Todays is another example of a book with great ideas and flashes of hope that ultimately left me feeling annoyed and underwhelmed. Fans of Dark Matter, The Martian, Ready Player One, etc. should find something to love here. I feel like that's important to share because any people love all of those books, but even then I'm hesitant to recommend this one. For whatever reason, I can't connect with these types of books. Ah well.

The chapters are very short, and there are some fun plot twists along the way that keep you hanging on, but as I moved along I felt like the book should be over, but there were still a lot of pages left to go. It took its time getting its footing in the beginning, and it struggled to wrap itself up in the end. Again, I felt like the author had a really cool idea, but those ideas didn't really translate into a good story. It was like he wanted to mashup sci-fi with rom-com and family drama all in one, and none of it ever clicked.

Alright, so here's a couple of deeper issues I had with this one. First off, the narrator is ridiculously whiny and spends most of the beginning of the book reminding us how much his dad hates him and how he is such a failure and whatever, then he goes on this long rant about all the girls he's slept with and how much his life sucks, etc. There just wasn't enough development for me to care. Just constant reminders of how I should feel.

Which leads me to my next point, even though this guy can't do anything right, of course he ends up with Penny/Penelope who is the opposite of him in every way, and honestly I felt like the narrator was pretty misogynistic in the way he talked about every woman in the book. I don't we supposed to be convinced that he was in love with this person, but there was only a physical connection that was hard to even believe in the first place, and second place, and third place, etc. So the love story arc felt extremely forced and unbelievable, and it was more distracting than anything else.

The end of the book just left me wanting to put it down. It was hard to finish. It started tripping over itself trying to explain all the time travel stuff and how one person did it this way for this reason and someone else was able to do something else. Whatever. It's probably going to be made into a movie. It feels like it was written to cater to Hollywood to turn it into a movie. Look! I have all these genres covered in one story! It's not s good story, but think of how cool it will all be on the big screen! It's like all those other books! Where do I sign?!

Can't recommend this one. Sorry. If will definitely appeal to a lot of people, but it just wasn't for me.

Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,015 reviews1,405 followers
September 12, 2017
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Elan Mastai, and the publisher, Penguin, for this opportunity.

A book set in an alternative present sounded like such an intriguing concept for a book. And while I certainly did find this interesting, the rather dry narrative voice started to dull my affinity, as the story progressed.

This book is set out as a fictional memoir, and it does an excellent job of sounding like just that. The voice that brings the reader into this version of our present, is that of Tom Barren. He is the son of a scientific genius and struggling to find his place in a world that doesn't seem to need him. One reckless decision, made in the midst of high emotion, changes not only his own story, but the entire world's progression, as he knows it.

This book was not at all what what I had been anticipating, which was both a good and a bad thing. I was prepared for scenes of high action, not the internal monologue and struggles of one individual. The concept of time travel is an interesting one, and one I associate with a world so dissimilar from our own as to be unrecognisable. To pit such a futuristic concept against a recognisable landscape and relatable characters, altered my perceptions of this.

I did enjoy the character's journey, but did not completely enjoy the slow narrative style. Ultimately, though, I found this an interesting and complex read, that raised many questions about our own humanity and changed my own perceptions of what the sci-fi genre can come to represent.
Profile Image for Blaine.
730 reviews580 followers
March 28, 2023
I didn’t mean to do any of this, but there’s no one else to blame. Not even my father. And clearly I’ve lost the plot because I’ve always been able to blame my father for whatever went wrong in my life—blaming my father is basically my superpower.

This was supposed to be, like, a time-travel romp, you know? I’d make some mistakes but in the end I’d set things right. I fantasized that despite or maybe even because of everything I’ve done wrong, I’d somehow come out of this a hero. The hero…. I’m sorry this isn’t a time-travel romp. I was expecting causal loops and reality fluctuations and branching dimensions and scientifically questionable solutions to ornate space-time paradoxes. I wasn’t expecting actual human pain.

On July 11, 1965, Lionel Goettreider turned on a generator that gave the world cheap, limitless, clean energy. By 2016, the world was a utopia that looked a lot like The Jetsons. Tom Barren traveled back in time to witness the turning on of the generator, and inadvertently made just enough changes in the past that the 2016 he returned to was … our considerably less Jetsons-like present. At first determined to right this terrible wrong he’s inflicted on the world, Tom’s resolve is shaken when he realizes that his family and his love interest are quite different in our world, and that he might be far happier personally here than he was in the world he left. Thus, Tom not only faces the question of if he can restore his world, but does he truly want to?

All Our Wrong Todays is a time travel novel, and it’s a really good one. First, it sets out its mechanics of time travel in original, interesting, and logical ways. And those descriptions aren’t just idle pages; the time travel mechanics organically create clever, imaginative plot twists throughout the story. Also, Mr. Mastai seems to have spent considerable effort on imagining his alternate 2016. It looks and feels utopian, but there are moments where Tom reveals that the ease of that world lacks something important we value. There’s no punk music, no literature. Squint and you might be looking at the beginnings of the Eloi from The Time Machine.

Even more than that, All Our Wrong Todays tells an emotional story. Mr. Mastai was a writer and co-executive producer on the tv show This Is Us, so it’s not surprising that the story focuses on and is driven by Tom’s emotional reactions to the events around him. This is a story about love and relationships, loss, grief, acceptance, and regret. Yet the book often manages to be balanced, or at least lightened, with regular doses of humor.

All Our Wrong Todays is a clever, imaginative, beautiful, emotional time-travel story. It’s also a thought-provoking one, raising the question of whether the utopias we imagine would be as satisfying as we imagine. Highly recommended, especially the audiobook, which is wonderfully performed by the author.
Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,126 followers
December 9, 2017
If you are one of the bazillion people here who loved the book Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch, you will love this one too. It is similar in some ways.

If you loved the Jetsons or Futurama, you should also love this one. All of the cool future-gadgets are in the story. I admit that I am one of those. I just want one robot-maid, flying car, and insta-meal machine before I die. Is that asking too much, science? Nobody's getting any younger over here, ya know. Get your shit together! Sheesh!

Everyone's a critic.

Our hero is a lovable loser who screws up the space/time thingy that they tell you to never mess with. Because of his blundering, we are stuck in THIS crappy world instead of the awesomeness that should have been.

So, he ends up in our reality and is pretty much screwed since the guy doesn't even know how to brush his own hair or feed himself. Okay, so maybe letting the computers and technology will make us as helpless as babies, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they will rise up and kill us all because we are no longer worth their trouble, right? Robots have maternal instincts, I think.

See? This one is trying to make a robot/human baby. That's so sweet!

The only thing some people didn't like about this book was the writing style. It's meandering, meaning , you know when someone is telling you a story and then goes off into five different stories on the way until you almost forget what the original subject was? Well, it does that. I liked it! I know you think that is crazy since I totally NEVER go off subject when I write reviews to tell you things about my dog or love of chocolate or how the book reminds me of something completely different that may or may not be like a burrito somehow.....
In other words, if you have actually read my review to this point, and haven't unfriended and blocked me for being a pain in the ass, snarky, unhelpful, sub-par reviewer, you might like this book. It was fun, original, and compelling.

Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,405 reviews989 followers
March 3, 2017
Beautifully done. Think Sliding Doors with added geekery and a wonderfully written deftly developed plot using a clear and funny character voice.

Poor Tom. He’s a bit useless really. So you probably don’t want him messing around with timelines and technology but he has an impressively intelligent and famous Father and is constantly wandering about in his shadow and disappointing him. Then Tom falls in love. What happens next is funny, engaging, full of little life insights and a whole lot of joy to read.

The humour is quirky and ironic, the time travel aspects are full of scientific what if scenario’s (except here of course the what if’s are actually happening) this is a love story on a sugar high (but not at all saccharine) Elan Mastai has an unconventional slightly wacky writing style that immerses you into Tom’s world and has you rooting for him all the way.

The short snappy chapters make this an ideal book for bedtime (or anytime that you just want to have a fast moment of indulgence reading) and also keep the story flowing out in somewhat linear style. The world Tom occupies is a strange utopia, an impressively imagined one, then of course being Tom he goes and messes around with things. Almost casually, often on a whim, sometimes through sheer emotional frustration. As a character he has many levels and I loved reading his story.

Overall All Our Wrong Today’s is a beauty of a read. Different, peculiar, often bizarre but ever bewitching, the kind of utterly captivating read you need to take you away from the mundane routine of life. I loved it.

Highly Recommended.
Profile Image for Danielle.
792 reviews386 followers
February 9, 2021
2018 F.A.B. Bookclub pick # I.❤️. F.A.B.

I’m not a big fan of sci-fi, so the science parts of this book had me yawning and bored. The romance, funny and sad parts were good. I listened to this one and I imagine reading it has a totally different feel. For example, when Tom realizes what he did- he awakes saying “Fuck” about 100 times in a row, followed by “Shit”, followed by more “Fuck”’s. I’m sure a reader just flipped the page and continued. Listening to this narrator say it for over a minute was a bit much... at first it was funny- but then it kept going- and started to get uncomfortable.... and that’s coming from someone who says those words.
Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,239 followers
June 14, 2017
It all happened, more or less exactly as envisioned. I’m not talking about the future. I’m talking about the present. Today, in the year 2016, humanity lives in a techno-utopian paradise of abundance, purpose, and wonder.
Except we don’t. Of course we don’t. We life in a world where, sure, there are iPhones and 3D printers and, I don’t know, drone strikes or whatever. But it hardly looks like The Jetsons. Except it should. And it did. Until it didn’t. But it would have, if I hadn’t done what I did. Or, no, hold on, what I will have done.

Tom Barren is from 2016. Though it is a very different 2016 from the 2016 we know and experienced. His 2016 is what they predicted the future would be like 50-60 years ago. All the movies, tv-shows, books that have flying cars, teleportation, robots, and the capability of getting the most mundane tasks done with the push of a button. Yeah, that's what 2016 is actually supposed to be like. That is until he used his father's time machine to go back in time and messed up everything to the point that 2016 became what 2016 was for you and me. Your basic cars driving on the road, we still have to go shopping, use our slow forms of travel, all that good stuff. Thanks, Tom Barren.

Tom is a complete disappointment to his father, the genius who invented time travel. His father only gives him an opportunity to participate in his grand experiment (first attempt at real time travel) after Tom's mother dies in a freak accident. But amidst the preparation for said experiment, Tom falls in love and everything goes terribly wrong.

There are different versions of the people in Tom's life in the new 2016, so he is often conflicted with whether he preferred his old life or this new one. He is faced with the ultimate decision - fix what he messed up and go back to the way things were supposed to be or just let things be and live in the new 2016.

What is interesting about this book is the style of writing. It is written as if it is a memoir. Mostly written in first person, though there's a moment he tries out third person deciding it doesn't work quite as well. Tom's perspective gives the novel a quirky, witty, humorous sort of feel. It is a bit on the conversational side. This is something I really enjoyed and found engaging. Sometimes Tom can come across as a whiny narcissistic tool, but he acknowledges this fact. It didn't bother me too much because from what kind of person do we expect to make the choices Tom makes? Exactly, his personality makes the book work.

The thing is: Tom is not a scientist, but this is a book involving time travel and scientific explanations. It all doesn't necessarily make sense the way it would in a book like The Martian, so don't expect "real" sci-fi. Sometimes Tom goes into explaining how things work and will get a little half-ass about it by the end (because, again, he's not a scientist). But I found it entertaining. You'll see what I mean here where Tom tries explaining the Goettreider Engine:
You know that the Earth spins on it’s axis and also revolves around the Sun, while the Sun itself moves endlessly through the solar system. Like water through a turbine, the Goettreider Engine harnesses the constant rotation of the planet to create boundless energy. It has something to do with magnetism and gravity and honestly - I don’t know anymore than I genuinely understand an alkaline battery or a combustion engine or an incandescent light bulb. They just work.

This is certainly a different sort of book. It is also what I would describe as a lot of fun. I particularly enjoyed the large differences between Tom's 2016 and ours. I loved the expectations we had for Lionel Goettreider. And the different explanations for what happened in history vs what was in the history books. It causes one to wonder what from our actual history has been changed due to different people chiming in with incorrect "facts."

The more I think about this, the more I realize I enjoyed the book more than I originally thought. The film rights were bought by Paramount, so I suppose I'll be on the lookout for more on that. I'm curious to see what Elan Mastai writes next.
Profile Image for Jessica J..
1,013 reviews1,925 followers
March 9, 2017
I should preface any review I write by saying that I am not much of a sci-fi reader. I’ve been slowly getting more into some sci-fi, but it’s not the hard stuff. It’s the kind that gets shelved in literary fiction and is maybe a bit polarizing to readers who like “real” sci-fi. I don’t even remember how this one landed on my to-read list, to be honest, but I was quite eager to read it as a way of broadening my horizons.

And really, I love anything that I think might give me an excuse to make references to The Darkest Timeline in my review so let's get that out of the way:

This is a time-travel adventure romance featuring Tom, a ne’er-do-well type in an alternate timeline version of 2016 where things look a little more Jetsonsy. An invention in the '60s did some science I don’t quite understand that led us to a futuristic utopia with flying cars and all our whims, needs, and wants met in predetermined, personalized, idealized fashions. Tom’s father is working on time travel and gives Tom a position as a back-up chrononaut mostly to keep him out of trouble. Tom has a crush on the star chrononaut, Penelope, and his feelings for her lead him to accidentally travel back 50 years, interrupt that famous invention, and eventually end up in a different version of 2016—one that looks like ours. It’s got slightly different versions of his friends and his family and Penny. And in this version of 2016, Tom is an arrogant-but-successful architect named John.

And in theory, this new version of 2016 is a dystopian reality compared to the alternate timeline. The Darkest Timeline, if you will. But Tom, having taken over John’s consciousness, sees a lot to this version of the world that he finds appealing and so he struggles with the question: should he try to re-set the universe or should he try to convince everyone in our 2016 that his story is true?

This is an engaging book that thoughtfully probes lots of morally complex questions. Tom’s a great narrator—Elan Mastai’s prose is snappy, full of heart and charm. My only quibbles with the book were that a) Penelope/Penny is kind of an underdeveloped female character who, in some ways, represents both ends of the sci-fi misogyny spectrum (ice queen vs manic-pixie dream girl). Mastai includes some commentary in his narration that discusses feminist points of view and so I think he was trying to be subversive, but I still wish Penny had been a little more fleshed out. And b) The time travel stuff got a little convoluted and hard to follow as we were driving to the conclusion. In his quest to try to fix things and then fix what he’d fixed, Tom ends up bouncing around in time in a variety of ways with a variety of implications. For someone who doesn’t love sci-fi or time travel stories, following along got to be a smidge laborious. But that’s just me, and it may not be an issue for readers who like that kind of thing a little more than I do.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,723 reviews6,663 followers
March 16, 2017
"...when you invent a new technology, you also invent the accident of that technology. When you invent the car, you also invent the car accident. When you invent the plane, you also invent the plane crash. When you invent nuclear fission, you also invent the nuclear meltdown."
And when you invent a time machine... yeah. Written in memoir style, All Our Wrong Todays showcases Tom Barren, the significantly less talented son of a scientist/physicist/inventor/genius, who acts before he thinks and tests out his father's newest invention. The end result is a world that resembles our present-day 2016. Only for Tom, this is total opposite (in a bad way) of what his 2016 was. I was a bit confused about whether this was time travel or dimension travel...it was kind of strange, but the contrast was very interesting to me as a reader as it shows that technological advances don't always equal happiness.

I saw All Our Wrong Todays described as Dark Matter meets Back To The Future and I honestly can't describe it any better than that. Overall, I liked All Our Wrong Todays. I got a bit lost now and then with the technological jargon but I found it engaging, humorous, and surprisingly emotional. There is also a romance element I wasn't expecting but was a likable part of this story nonetheless. If you like time travel stories that aren't too heavy on the sci-fi aspect, I would recommend All Our Wrong Todays. Film rights have already been sold to Paramount Pictures (and this debut author is a seasoned screenwriter) so be on the lookout for a film adaptation sometime soon. Check it out!

My favorite quote:
"The current state of the world isn't because we stopped believing in an optimistic spirit of wonder and discovery. The current state of the world is the consequence of that belief. People are despondent about the future because they're aware that we as a species chased an inspiring dream that led us to ruin. We told ourselves the world is here for us to control, so the better our technology, the better our control, the better our world will be. The fact that for every leap in technology our world gets more sour and chaotic is deeply confusing. The better things we build keep making it worse. The belief the world is here for humans to control is the philosophical bedrock of our civilization. But it's a mistaken belief. Optimism is the pier of which we have set ourselves aflame."
Profile Image for Jamie.
224 reviews115 followers
November 24, 2017
Well, the beginning was freaking amazing...then it slowed down to where I almost DNF'd it. It picked back up at the 30% mark...then it got slow again. Around the 70% mark I almost DNF'd it again. This was the trend in this one for me.
The synopsis sounded rad, unfortunately, it felt I had already read this storyline somewhere else. Not much happened throughout the general story line and the world building was nonexistent... in all timelines. The ending was a cop out to me. There were though a few times, I was surprised to where the story had gone and the turn of events.
Hence, why again I gave it a 2 stars. There were parts I loved and then parts I hated. So overall, it was a fun read at times-and I liked it-just didn't love this one...bummer.

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest opinion. My thanks to Elan Mastai and PENGUIN GROUP Dutton for the opportunity.
Profile Image for Tom Quinn.
537 reviews141 followers
December 22, 2020
My hopes for this one quickly soured at the try-hard vibe that gets laid on much, much too thick - an attempt to be blasé that's far more irritating than charming. There are stretches of tenderness and some pithy one-liners that I did appreciate, but they don't make up for the cocksure glibness in tone.

The narrator's supposed to be a relatable schlub with an "aw shucks" streak, but I found his running commentary too cutesy, too self-indulgent. It was like being at the movies with somebody who talks the whole time. This was pitched as a time travel romance, but the romantic bits felt lukewarm at best and the science behind time travel is mostly hand-waving. So this doesn't rise to great heights as hard sci-fi or even as pulp. It's more of a passing fancy, an ok way to pass some time without heavy involvement required. Luckily it is a fast read and the payoffs are marginally bigger than the time spent.

2 stars.
Profile Image for Caro (Bookaria).
602 reviews18.8k followers
May 22, 2017
This is an absolutely, amazing and beautiful novel! It was imaginative, fun, witty, with interesting characters and awesome dialogue. Basically, everything I love in a book.

The story starts with the main character Tom, he is the son of the genius creator of a time machine. He lives in the present time but in a completely different alternative reality, the world he lives in is a quasi-utopian environment where war, diseases and poverty have been eradicated. The present reality is different because back in 1965 a technological event happened that allowed the world to develop into the wonderful place that it now is (the alternative reality). Then something happens, Tom travels back in time and drama ensues.

I listened to the audiobook and was impressed with the narrator, the intonation, pauses and beautiful voice then I looked him up and the narrator happens to be the author. How impressive was that? Can this book get any more perfect?

Anyways, loved it and enjoyed it throughout. What a wonderful book!
Profile Image for Jonathan K (Max Outlier).
606 reviews111 followers
January 4, 2020
In a word, brilliant! For all those who enjoy time travel stories, this is without doubt, one of the best not only conceptually but figuratively. A screenwriter by trade, this is the kind of story that lends well to the big screen though is equally good on paper! The creative views and concepts of time travel are unique though it's the unexpected momentum towards the end that takes the reader by surprise. Great character development, immersive and engaging, this is an outstanding debut novel by an author with a promising future.
Profile Image for Monica.
518 reviews157 followers
March 18, 2020
Such a compelling novel! Although it starts a little sluggish, and our main character Tom is not very likable, the plot does pick up pace. I enjoyed the writing style - Tom frequently mentions that he is "not a writer" and much of the story reads like a memoir. We learn lots of surprises in the final 25% and those kept me focused and reading into the night to finish.

There is some physics jargon that may or may not be factual, I have no clue, but it didn't deter me from the general story. I definitely recommend this book for folks who enjoy science fiction, time travel, and exploring the age old question, "what if?"
Profile Image for Dennis.
656 reviews263 followers
September 17, 2019
You know the reviews that people in the 1970s imagined we'd have? Well, it happened. In Dennis’ 2017, humanity thrives in a literate-utopian paradise of entertaining reviews full of thoughtful insight, and sophisticated analysis, where reviewers never missed the point and trolls never existed . . . because what’s the point of trolling anyway?

Except Dennis just can't seem to find his place in this dazzling, eloquent world, and that's before his life gets turned upside down. Utterly blindsided by an accident of fate, Dennis 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, Dennis finds himself stranded in our 2017, what we think of as the real world. For Dennis, our normal reality seems like an unheeding wasteland.

But when he discovers wonderfully unexpected, imaginative reviews, some fantastic people who stand up for their own opinions, in spite of all the trolling and—maybe, just maybe—his soul mate, Dennis has a decision to make. Does he fix the flow of history, bringing his utopian but somehow predictable universe back into existence, or does he try to forge a new life in our messy, unpredictable reality? Dennis’ search for the answer takes him across the internet, the real world, and across timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be.

Chapter 1:
You know this utopian paradise people in the 70s envisioned? That’s the world I come from. It exists. Except it doesn’t. And that’s my fault. Because I’m a gigantic douchebag.

Chapter 2:
Maybe I should write this in third person. That would make me sound a little less self-pitying I guess.
Dennis realizes he is a gigantic douchebag because he… Hm, no this seems wrong. Let’s go back to first person then.

Chapter 3:
I’m a gigantic douchebag.

Chapter 4:
In 1975 some genius invented a crazy machine which made every reviewer in the world able to write entertaining reviews full of thoughtful insight and sophisticated analysis. Don’t ask me how it worked. I’m not a scientist.

Chapter 5:
I’m just a gigantic douchebag. If you’ve read this far, you’re probably already aware of that fact.

Chapter 6:
Saturn is 746 million miles away from Earth. Sometimes at least. Because, you know, planets move. The fastest manned spacecraft we ever built reached about 64,000 miles per hour max. This means, at full speed we would need aprox 11,656 hours to reach Saturn. Or 486 days. Note: This is a very dumped down approximation. Because I’m not a physicist or mathematician. And I have absolutely no clue about space travel. I guess we would have to slow down at some point and not just jump out of the spacecraft and parachute to a safe landing. But the bottom line is, we won’t be going to Saturn during this review. I’m sorry.

Chapter 7:
I’m a gigantic douchebag. But at least I know it.

Chapter 8:
I tricked three women into sleeping with me because they were pitying me after they found out I won’t be going to Saturn. And also something bad happened to a family member. Isn’t that cool? I mean the sex thing. Yeah, I know I’m a douchebag. But that’s okay, since I know it myself. At least I won’t tell you their names, because that would make me seem pretentious as well. And I’m not. Also it wouldn’t be fair to Sophia, Emma and Olivia.

Chapter 9:
I didn’t have the best of childhoods. Maybe that’s why I’m a gigantic douchebag. I think you should pity me now.

Chapter 10:
I think it’s about time to begin with the actual review. But somehow I met this strong and independent woman and I think I’m in love with her. So I can’t think of anything else right now.

Chapter 11:
Guess what, I saw her naked. Hihi. Isn’t that cool? She never really noticed me before. But then we somehow end up naked at work and I get a boner. So she fell in love with me. Even though I’m a gigantic douchebag. I’m so fortunate.

Chapter 12:
Maybe I was wrong. Maybe she doesn’t love me after all. My life is so bad. I guess I use the time travel machine my father has built to go back to some event that’s barely related to my present problem. And then I will do something I don’t know yet for some also unknown reason. Yes, this sounds like a good plan.

Chapter 13:
I summarize chapters 1 to 12 for you, just in case you lost track of all the amazing stuff that's going on here. I’m from another timeline where (or when?) reviews are all really really great. Some guy invented some crazy machine. But I can’t really explain it. I myself am a gigantic douchebag. We will not be going to Saturn today. I had sex (hehe). I think I fell in love. I went time traveling.

Chapter 14:
What was this all about again? Oh, I know. I wanted to write a review.

Ugh. I didn’t like it. It had a promising premise. A very very very bad start. Some entertainment in the middle (hence the 2 star rating). Some more or less interesting concepts that could have been fleshed out, but weren’t. A very unlikable main protagonist. Misogyny written all over it. Not very believable characters. Insta-love galore. Some really cringe-worthy moments. Not very much of a story. And finally a kind of meh ending.

I’m sorry. I know you probably expected an entertaining review full of thoughtful insight and sophisticated analysis, because of the blurb. But I’m afraid, you have to look somewhere else.

Oh, almost forgot. I wanted to at least convey a meaningful message.
Time no waste don’t so. Yours all it’s. Life precious one this only have you. Review stupid this reading wasted you time the back get don’t you backwards sentence this reading by.

Please note: Of course I didn’t want to waste your time with this review. My intention was to recreate some of the feelings I had while I was reading this book. This book, which had such an interesting premise and was such a big disappointment.
Also, I didn’t want to mock the author. I noticed that he wanted to convey some message about what’s really important in life. And I’m pretty sure the main character is intended to be this douchebag. But I’m also pretty sure the reader was intended to like him by the end. Which in my case didn’t happen.
This is a book that’s not very heavy on story, which kind of surprised me. Instead it’s heavy on characters and relationships. That’s totally okay with me, as long as the characters are believable and in some way (good or bad) appealing to me, the reader. Which they weren’t. There are two interesting female characters in my opinion. But they were treated badly. And their reactions to this weren’t believable. Which in turn made them less interesting.
And the main protagonist is a supposed to be 32 year old who’s behaving like an adolescent and a gigantic douchebag. That’s not exactly my definition of appealing.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,509 reviews187 followers
May 1, 2017
When I first finished this, I thought, that was a fun 4-star read! But after allowing some time to pass, I'm dropping this down to 3 stars if I'm being incredibly generous, but being honest, I think this is actually a 2.5 stars. I think this was an interesting take on time travel, with a main character who didn't particularly hold my interest. In fact, much of the plot has already vanished from my brain. I remember being irritated by the main character, the more time I spent with him, and though I felt a little sorry for him at the beginning of the story because of his father's behaviour, I gradually became less and less sympathetic with the lead. He (I can't even remember his name now) jumps back in time for purely selfish reasons, causing lots of trouble and fairly radical changes to the timeline he knew. The alt-version of himself in the new timeline isn't particularly admirable either, and I could not see what made him appealing to the alt version of Penelope.
This book has been compared to Dark Matter by many; I really disliked Dark Matter, especially for its tissue-thin characters. All Our Wrong Todays mostly held my interest to its end, though I did start feeling pretty bored at about the 3/4 point. I found the supporting alt-characters reasonably interesting, though I can't remember much about any of them either some weeks later.
As this book didn't stick in my brain overly well, and I didn't particularly like or respect the main character I'm dropping it down to 2.5 stars. Pleasant at the start, then devolving, with a self-centred and annoying male lead, an unbelievable, supporting romantic female character, a plot point that was handled poorly and lacking in sensitivity, this book kind of forgettable and a disappointment.
Profile Image for Bam cooks the books ;-).
1,820 reviews225 followers
December 10, 2016
I've always had a deep love for the time-travel scifi genre, my guilty pleasure, and this book provides two experiences through machines created by different crazy-genius scientists!

In All Our Wrong Todays, Tom Barren is writing his memoir, to explain how he destroyed and/or saved alternate realities. In his original life, an ultra-modern utopian world of hover cars etc., Tom is the ne'er-do-well son of a genius professor who is planning a time-travel experiment in which a traveler will go back to July 11, 1965, to the moment in time when their world was forever changed for the better by the switching on of the 'Goettreider Engine.' Since that moment, there has been no dependence on fossil fuels, no wars, hunger, poverty, etc. Only huge advances in all the sciences.

When Penelope, the scientist trained for the trip, commits suicide, Tom (her understudy and lover) decides to attempt the experiment on his own--with reality-changing results. When he returns to 2016, OUR 2016, he finds everything is changed. No more technological advances because the famous engine didn't exist. In this reality, he is 'John' Barren, the famous architect, and his family is much changed: they're more loving, his mother is still alive and he has an adult little sister! And when he finds 'Penny,' she is a completely different person--a bookstore owner who might actually come to love Tom/John.

So which reality would you choose? The one where the world is a terrific place but you're a bumbler, your mother has died from a freak accident, and your father despises and ignores you? Or a world that has many problems but you are loved and respected by most everyone?

If you enjoyed Dark Matter, it's a sure bet you will enjoy this wildly inventive book too. Hang in there through the moderately slow beginning as Tom sets up the story--the rest of the book is worth the wait. As my mother used to say, "Where does he come up with these ideas?!"

Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for providing me with an arc of this exciting new book.

#2016-aty-reading-challenge-week-48: a dystopia
Profile Image for Велислав Върбанов.
331 reviews25 followers
February 26, 2023
За мен, „Всички наши грешни дни“ е истинско книжно съкровище... В началото четенето ми вървеше малко трудно, но впоследствие книгата напълно ме заплени, както ми се случи преди време с „Аркадия“ на Иън Пиърс! Не подхождайте към тази история с очакване за класическа научна фантастика, тъй като Илън Мастаи извежда на преден план най-вече емоциите... Разбира се, нестандартното пътуване във времето ми допадна, обаче личното светоусещане на главния герой и любовната история ме развълнуваха значително по-силно!

Том живее във футуристична и идилична паралелна реалност, но не изпитва радост в нея и е някак отчужден, така да се каже. Любопитно стечение на обстоятелства го отвежда на пътуване във времето, изпращайки го към нашия свят от 2016 г. Той открива своята любима жена Пенелопе в този толкова различен за него алтернативен свят, след което му предстоят още странни приключения и трудни житейски решения...

„Утехата на майка ми бяха книгите. Не поглъщащите разказвателни модули, с които всички останали се забавлявахме, а истински книги, онези от хартия и мастило, които вече никой не правеше, още по-малко пишеше. Времето си за отдих прекарваше в четене на думи, писани в предишна епоха.“

„Машина, която никога не е използвана, е като бебе, което никога няма да бъде родено.“

„Искам в мен да няма нищо, което да не е светло, чисто и добро. Но разбира се, това не е реално. Това става, когато си статуя на градски площад, оголен от всякаква човешка украса, която не може да бъде изваяна в бронз. Това, което пришива в едно всички мои спомени за Пени, е изумителното чувство, че съществува някой, за когото не е нужно да съм каквото и да било, освен това, което съм. Това е, което може да направи за теб любовта, ако й позволиш — да построи личност от всички твои счупени парчета.“
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