Before I get this review straight in my head (might take a moment or two), I need to thank Dutton for sending a copy of All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai. This whirlwind novel kept me guessing and reeling until the very last page, and the more I think about the plot, the more brilliant I believe the author to be. Congratulations to Elan Mastai for keeping me on my toes.
Don’t be confused by that 3.5 overall rating. That in no way is meant to dissuade you from picking up this fascinating and often funny debut novel. The only reason my rating hit the 3.5 mark was because I found the book to be jarring and somewhat disjointed. Intelligent? Absolutely. Entertaining characters? No question. Thoughtful? Resounding yes. A touch dizzying and muddied? For this reader, yes.
First, my attempt at a synopsis. All Our Wrong Todays takes place in the present. Scratch that – that’s not entirely true. It’s in the future. Wait – that’s wrong. It examines the past. Ok – that’s somewhat accurate, but not quite.
All Our Wrong Todays takes place in an alternative present that is only a reality because a goofball hurled himself into a time machine and botched up the past. There. Confused yet?
Remember all those books and movies that warned the time-traveling protagonist to avoid, at all costs, being seen in the past, lest the future be irreparably altered? Well, turns out that not only should you not be seen, but you probably shouldn’t touch stuff either. Tom Barren gets an “F” on both scores.
If ever there was someone who should avoid time-travel, it’s Tom Barren. Witty to a fault and likable, yes. Prepared to deal with the possibility of impacting the fabric of the universe… not so much. In other words, after Tom “wakes” in the resulting reality that he created from his rather insane trip into the past (people he knew previously were now not born… key inventions were left off the map) he is an entirely different person. The goofy and hapless person he was at first is now shrewd and awful. Which persona will win? Which reality is real? And for the love of Pete, does he wind up with his love?
I have a feeling I’m doing more harm than good with this explanation. Instead, I’ll share what I experienced while reading this wild story.
On more than one occasion, I had to go back to previous pages. I had to remind myself of certain things and certain people, and it was this approach that allowed me to stay on top of the conflicting realities. In other words, it takes effort to keep the story straight. This certainly isn’t a bad thing, as any story that makes you think is a gift. However, couple this with the fact that the story’s timelines were all over the map, and there’s great potential for confusion and impatience. While I truly enjoyed the ride, my only wish was that it didn’t bang around so frequently. Let me fully grasp what I’m reading before hurtling me into the next dimension. For me, the thing that was missing from this novel was a bit more organization. Aside from that, this story is definitely worth the effort.
All Our Wrong Todays is an excellent introduction to this author’s intelligence and creativity. I will certainly pick up Elan Mastai’s next novel, whatever that may be! 3.5 stars for All Our Wrong Todays.