BOOK REVIEW | All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

all-our-wrong-todays-by-elan-mastai

3.5/5 stars

*I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

From the publisher:
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.

My thoughts:
Is it possible to think outside of the box of your ideology? Or is ideology the box and you just have to work at opening it?

In Tom Barren’s 2016, all of the technological advances predicted in the 1950’s have come to light. In 1965, a scientist named Lionel Goettreider discoverd a new form of energy, unleashing the power of automation and nano-targeting into the world. Need a haircut, a meal, or a new outfit? The touch of a button gets the job done, and the results are perfectly tailored to your needs. If you’re heading to work, take your flying car. Life is easy with technology at the forefront, but Tom isn’t happy. Tom’s father, a leader in the field of time travel, is openly disappointed in his son but reluctantly brings him aboard his company. Tom was not meant to be the first to test his father’s time machine, but through a mishap, that’s exactly what he becomes. Tom ends up in another 2016 – our 2016 – where a haircut requires a skilled, scissor yielding, professional.

While this book is categorized as sci-fi, I found it surprisingly rooted in humanity. Tom’s struggles are relatable, and I found myself highlighting many poignant passages. Mastai creatively addresses fate and destiny, the power that a single decision can have on the course of one’s life, and finding contentment and human connection in a world overrun with technology. Though I didn’t fully connect with Tom I still wanted the best for him – I wanted him to find his way home, and for him to have peace with wherever that was.

I often struggle with books primarily narrated in the first person, but found that the story was engaging enough that I didn’t notice it here, a testament to Mastai’s writing. He does use the word “like” conversationally quite a bit, and I could have done without that. I understand the intent, people do talk like this, but I found it distracting. Mastai’s insights are meaningful and this story was really fun to read!

Advertisements

BOOK REVIEW | Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor (The Chronicles of St. Mary’s #1)

Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor.jpg

2/5 stars

From the publisher:
Behind the seemingly innocuous façade of St Mary’s, a different kind of historical research is taking place. They don’t do ‘time-travel’ – they ‘investigate major historical events in contemporary time’. Maintaining the appearance of harmless eccentrics is not always within their power – especially given their propensity for causing loud explosions when things get too quiet.

Meet the disaster-magnets of St Mary’s Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around History. Their aim is to observe and document – to try and find the answers to many of History’s unanswered questions…and not to die in the process. But one wrong move and History will fight back – to the death. And, as they soon discover – it’s not just History they’re fighting.

Follow the catastrophe curve from 11th-century London to World War I, and from the Cretaceous Period to the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria. For wherever Historians go, chaos is sure to follow in their wake….

My thoughts:
This was a book club selection and way outside of my normal realm of reading – which I guess is the point of participating in a book club, right? Unfortunately, partially due to my own shortcomings, this book didn’t work for me.

I will be the first to admit that I struggle with any sort of fantasy or science fiction – it takes a lot to sell me on plots of this nature. I find it difficult to suspend reality, and as a result am unable to become invested in the story or the characters. That said, I understand why so many people love this series: there’s romance, passion, a strong and independent female lead, action, adventure, and a ton of fun. I guess I’m just a boring old biddy who likes her books more on the introspective side.

This is the story of St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research and the historians that work there. These historians, however, take their research to the next level through breakthrough technology – they can travel through time to investigate the historical events they are so enamoured with. Naturally, messing about with time travel and diving into time periods such as the Cretaceous can only lead to troubling results. The story revolves around Maxwell, described early on as a disaster magnet, and it’s no surprise that she finds herself in a wild array of dangerous situations. The cliffhanger at the crux hints at another wild ride for those who continue on to book #2.

I found the writing underwhelming – I crave great writing even when reading something that is just for fun. Additionally, I found some of the plot points to be choppy and there was a bit of jumping around which I found jarring. I think if the writing was tightened up I would have enjoyed this book a lot more. That said, I don’t regret this read at all – it introduced me to a new genre of book and definitely piqued my interest in this category! I’ve heard of a few other series’ with similar time traveling plot lines that I am curious to look into now.