It is very engaging and entertaining - I read it in one day. I mostly love it as an exploration of time travel mechanics and the way it plays out in fIt is very engaging and entertaining - I read it in one day. I mostly love it as an exploration of time travel mechanics and the way it plays out in fiction. Masai offers some great complications and correctives to what other sci-fi has done with time travel, and because it's in story-form (with some meta conversations), it's fun to read.
Also some great stuff on parental enmeshment dynamics early on, though growth is largely dropped in favor of happier enmeshment.
Short, spoiler-free version: engaging and fun read, but misses what could have been a deeper conversation on the "not all men" movement, and ultimately unsatisfying ending.
Discussion with spoilers below. --*--*--*-- The narrator is in our timeline and realizes that he's "maybe sexist" even though women's equality is figured out in his world. I had two major frustrations with this scene. One, Masai didn't do the work to figure out what exactly women's equality is all about; Tom says something vague about how his world has figured out "equal pay and all that" and that women can have any career they want to. Differences would have been more glaring to someone from a truly equal world: on a really superficial level: if his world is truly equal, do women not wear makeup, or are men also expected to wear it? Do women not shave their legs and armpits, or do men do so as well? Do women still need to put their chests in casts to keep men comfortable? Really, immediately noticeable things, but all Masai can come up with is equal pay and career opportunities.
Second, he's having this realization because in this reality he has a sister. Ugh. Is there no way for men to realize that women are human without female relatives? This is the same shit I hate about "wives and daughters" tweets from politicians.
So okay. That's annoying. The other thing that people think is majorly clever is the way the confrontation of "not all men" narratives. Because there are multiple people inhabiting one body, Tom's body/face becomes both the abuser and the kind person. When another personality comes out (Victor, we find out later), he rapes two women. Tom is then left trying to make amends, and he doesn't get to say "but that wasn't me," because his body represents the abuser's body. Which is what all men should be doing. It doesn't matter if you, particularly, didn't rape me; someone with your anatomy did and a rape survivor is still going to be triggered and wary of that anatomy. Mastai does a good job of showing what those conversations could/should look like; I wish he spent more time on the internal world of how Tom is making sense of that. Feels like a majorly missed opportunity.
The ending left a lot wanting. It glorifies and romanticizes birth and parenthood in a way that just -- did we have to? And it obliterates Penny's desires - she liked buildings as markers of history, but now silently consents to using their wealth to buy up buildings, tear them down, and redesign them. What changed for her? It's also really unsettling that (1) John's family doesn't care that he was essentially obliterated and replaced because the new guy is nicer and (2) their master plan is to essentially create a global monopoly and be benevolent overlords....more