Book Review: ALL OUR WRONG TODAYS by Elan Mastai

I finished reading this blockbuster of a book today, such a freaking brilliant sci-fi by Elan Mastai. When I read Dark Matter by Blake Crouch I thought it would be a while before I found another multi-layered sci-fi that would blow my mind like DM did. Along came All Our Wrong Todays! This is such an unbelievable, science-y and unstoppable read 😳I can't wait to do a full review of the novel, but meanwhile I'm just gonna say that this is a MUST READ if you want something entertaining and insanely mind blowing 😳 thank you @penguinukbooks for sending me this copy, I will be recommending this for a long time! Possibly a 2017 favorite 😍 All Our Wrong Todays comes out in March in the UK, and it's already out in the US and Canada! What's your favorite sci-fi?! Do you like reading classic sci-fi?

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Last year, an absolute favourite read was Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. DM was a fast-paced, exciting and innovative sci-fi fiction, unlike anything I’d read before. I had assumed it would be a while before I’d find a book to top or equate that thrilling experience, but sooner than later, Penguin UK sent me a copy of ALL OUR WRONG TODAYS  by Elan Mastai.

It’s difficult to describe what Mastai does with his complicated yet refreshing time travel sci-fi, but I’ll start by saying that he does absolutely impossible things with the plot.

In ALL OUR WRONG TODAYS we follow Tom Barren, a young man who is unable to find his place in the world, a fact that’s highlighted in the shadow of his father’s immense success as a scientist and time travel innovator. The 2016 that Tom is familiar with is the world very similar to the one conceived in the Golden Age of sci-fi (mid-20th century), it’s a world of extreme technological advancement, where even clothes are a button’s touch away from materializing. It’s the world we dream of, but Tom is unhappy and miserable. Nothing in his life is right. That’s until he takes an impulsive decision that he thinks will change his life, and it does so quite literally. Tom travels 50 years back in time and his actions in the past disrupt a key moment in technological advancement. He wakes up in 2016 as we know it – the 2016 he shares with the reader. What follows is Tom’s narrative as he tries to somehow ‘retrieve’ the world he lost (all the billions of people he killed as a result) while trying not to get too close to the better life he has on this version of 2016 (he’s a genius architect and he has a sister?!).

Mastai’s writing is often a bit lengthy (as opposed to Dark Matter’s fast-paced no wasted words experience), heavily punctuated with fascinating science-y details (which are not all true) and soaked with human emotion and catastrophe. Overall, it was a thrilling reading experience because the plot is active and busy, and it’s quite entertaining to see Tom try to make sense of it all.

Clarification: I wouldn’t say this novel was overwritten, it’s just that Mastai did not mind taking his time unraveling the plot. However, as a result of that some readers might experience a drag, but that’s okay, it’s SO worth it. And anyway, it’s quite difficult to stop once you’re in.

There have been few books with as funny a start as ALL OUR WRONG TODAYS; I was laughing out loud on the first page. And throughout the rest of the novel, aside from the funny moments, I was amused by Tom’s impulsive yet down on his luck attitude and the luckless miseries of his life. Tom has access to everything yet his life is powered by his father’s success, nothing of his own making. In fact, his father gives him a job out of pity and he manages to even screw that up.

What I loved was seeing this miserable, almost pathetic sort of a young man faced with a catastrophe of his own making, and to see him try to undo the prodigious damage. Who doesn’t love an anti-hero set out to save the world?

It’s hard for me to say more without giving away the spoiler-y details. Expect intense character development, unimaginable and ingenious science fabricated by the author, a lot of ‘WTH just happened’ moments and an overall entertaining antihero. The 137 chapters are saturated with twists and turns, unexpectedly stirring moments and hilariously endearing family discussions. There are also moments when Tom directly addresses the reader and involves us in his narrative in a way. It’s also fascinating to read about the intellectual and hedonistic contrast of the wondrous world that Tom comes from, aligned with the “simpler” life we live in our world. Tom explains why people don’t read in his world, “..reading a book where every word is fixed in place by the deliberate choice of a controlling vision, surrendering agency over your own imagination to a stranger you’ll likely never meet, is some sort of masochistic pleasure.”

Read ALL OUR WRONG TODAYS for a trippy, mind-bending story that doesn’t stop amusing and is surprisingly touching. The ending, however, is so shocking and confusing that I want to call up Mastai and tell him,”We need to talk.”

Goodreads, Book Depository.

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