All Our Wrong Todays
You know the future that people in the 1950s imagined we’d have? Well, it happened. In Tom Barren’s 2016, humanity thrives in a techno-utopian paradise of flying cars, moving sidewalks, and moon bases, where avocados never go bad and punk rock never existed . . . because it wasn’t necessary.
Except Tom just can’t seem to find his place in this dazzling, idealistic world, and that’s before his life gets turned upside down. Utterly blindsided by an accident of fate, Tom makes a rash decision that drastically changes not only his own life but the very fabric of the universe itself. In a time-travel mishap, Tom finds himself stranded in our 2016, what we think of as the real world. For Tom, our normal reality seems like a dystopian wasteland.
But when he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and—maybe, just maybe—his soul mate, Tom has a decision to make. Does he fix the flow of history, bringing his utopian universe back into existence, or does he try to forge a new life in our messy, unpredictable reality? Tom’s search for the answer takes him across countries, continents, and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be.
I love almost anything involving time travel and alternate realities, so when I first heard about All Our Wrong Todays, I started hyping it up in my head almost immediately. I was worried that there was no way it could possibly live up to my expectations, but I’m glad to say that my worrying was pointless!
The main character, Tom Barren, lives in the year 2016 in a world that is basically the future imagined by the creators of The Jetsons. There are hover cars and jetpacks, vacations on the moon, teleportation exists, buildings are all hundreds of stories high with connecting walkways, and food comes in capsules. Tom is also a bit of a loser; he’s 32 years old, practically friendless, and has failed at every endeavour. In order to give him something to do, Tom’s father Victor, the designer of the world’s first time machine, takes him on as an employee. However, he doesn’t give Tom a boring desk job; Victor appoints his extremely under-qualified son to be the understudy for one of the time travellers, also known as chrononauts. A sequence of events occurs, and the end result is that Tom winds up in our version of 2016…which is basically a dystopia compared to his own world. He then must decide whether he wants to restore his own world or stay in our 2016 and live out the life the alternate version of him had been leading here.
One thing that I really loved about the book was that it constantly kept me guessing. Just when I (and Tom) had gotten comfortable with Tom’s new life, the situation changed drastically and the book went in a whole different direction.
The narration was amazing. I had just finished another first-person narrative prior to reading All Our Wrong Todays, however the two could not have been more different. That book’s narrator was so lacking in personality that she turned what should have been an interesting story into a dull one. Tom’s narration in All Our Wrong Todays was, conversely, so dynamic. He was funny, slightly goofy, insightful, self-effacing, and (although he would most certainly deny it) smart. The narration took a wonderfully unique concept and injected it with life, making the book an absolute joy to read.
Then there were the characters. It’s hard to go into a lot of detail about them without spoiling what the alternate reality Tom travelled to was like, but they were all incredibly engaging, well-rounded, and unique.
I found very few faults with All Our Wrong Todays. The main issue I had with the book was that it felt a bit disjointed at times, because it often flipped between chapters that recalled events and chapters of exposition.
Despite being fast-paced and funny, All Out Wrong Todays was also incredibly insightful, and had many interesting things to say about the natures of life, love, and fate. I really enjoyed reading this book and cannot recommend it enough.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.