All Our Wrong Todays

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Dec 2017

Member Reviews

This book can be summed up like so: dudebro be time traveling. Yup. Pretty accurate. The time traveling was fun but most of the time I just wanted to punch the main dudebro in the face. He spent much of his time whining and narrating everything in an "all tell, no show" manner.
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Recent years have seen an uptick in excellent space-centered science fiction, but the well-written time travel narratives — the classic trope that helped launch the genre with works such as H.G. Well's The Time Machine — have been harder to find. But in his debut novel All Our Wrong Todays, screenwriter Elan Mastai has delivered a tale that is worthy of your time — if you'll forgive the pun. With short chapters that speed the reader through the narrative, a plot begging for cinematic adaptation, and interesting twists that leave you guessing at how it will all end, All Our Wrong Todays is time travel science fiction at its finest. And unlike some classic time travel, Mastai offers a novel way of explaining the logistics in a believable way. With a style the reminds us of Kurt Vonnegut (author of Cat's Cradle, among many others) and a tone that smacks of Andy Weir (author of The Martian), this novel will leave you pondering whether you are leading the life you are meant to live and how the smallest decisions can change the fate of humanity.
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Bumbling every-man Tom Barren goes from the 2016 of our futuristic dreams to the 2016 we are all sadly too familiar with, thanks to his typical bad luck and a time-traveling fiasco. While Tom goes on a quest to return to his own timeline, readers are treated to a fast paced story that has something for everyone- science, romance, adventure, suspense, family drama, philosophical quandaries and more. Everything works seamlessly and results in a book that is sure to delight.
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I was hoping for something along the lines of Dark Matter, and I was pleasantly surprised. All Our Wrong Todays was very reminiscent, but also held its own ground. The sci-fi aspect of the book did get a little too scientific at times, and some parts of the book went straight over my head. The storyline was engaging and there were some twists and turns that shocked me, so that was a nice surprise.
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4.0 - thanks to NetGalley for an ARC - I wasn't sure that I liked this "memoir" at first, but once I got through the first 50 pages, I couldn't put it down.  Rather unusual storytelling, some bewilderment at a few of the storylines, but rather fun and still thought-provoking.  Recommended.
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ALL OUR WRONG TODAYS is compulsively readable and addictive. I enjoyed this book so much—think of it as a modern-day Back to the Future meets Taylor Jenkins Reid's Maybe in Another Life. Wonderful storytelling and compelling characters made this story completely entertaining, a page-turner, and joy to read.

One of the things I liked about this book was Tom Barren. The narrative reads like Tom is telling you the story of his life. His witty quips, sense of humor, and self-deprecating tendencies made him endearing and engaging. I liked him right away, despite his obvious character flaws. Elan Mastai developed his character so well, creating a fantastic character arc for him with room to evolve—and change he did! He goes from being a self-described "loser" and slightly selfish to the hero who saves everyone.

This novel is categorized as science fiction, so I was concerned that some of the technical explanations would go over my head or weigh down the story. Not so! Elan Mastai does a fantastic job of weaving in the detailed passages surrounding quantum physics and time travel while making the story easy to digest and fascinating! The novel addresses some of the inherent problems in time travel such as the issue of the earth's constant movement.

Mastai's storytelling is especially noteworthy. Everything about this book felt fresh, new, and different. I couldn't wait to read the next chapter, as some chapters end on mini-cliffhangers. A good amount of my enjoyment stemmed from the questions that the novel poses. If given the chance, would I go back in time to change something from my past, without knowing the potential consequences? What would it be like traveling to a world with remnants of your own but wholly different?

Aside from Tom, there are great side characters in Penny and Greta that make the story that much more addictive and fun. Those characters were interesting and relatable but all had flaws that made them realistic.

Romance lovers will enjoy this sci-fi time travel novel colored with romantic elements. Tom changes the time space continuum over a broken heart and manages to find Penny again. If that's not romantic, I don't know what is. In addition to the Goettreider Engine, love was Tom's constant, which is sort of beautiful to think about. It was the thing that was rooted in his mind no matter what version of today he was in.

Audiobook Comments:

I listened to this book almost entirely in one sitting while driving to visit a friend in Kentucky. The author narrates it and I thought it was really great! When I saw that it was the author as opposed to a regular narrator, I have to admit that I thought maybe it wouldn't be as entertaining but Elan Mastai gave a great performance. The benefit to having an author narrate the book is that he or she has the chance to deliver the lines the way h/she envisioned it. I really liked the way Mr. Mastai brought Tom to life because he wasn't the most likable guy in the beginning but his performance combined with the aforementioned character development made me feel for Tom and endeared me to him. If you're looking to listen to this book, give it a go!

* Thanks to Penguin Random House Audio for providing me with an audiobook for review. This was a fun listen!
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I love time travel books and I have to say this is one of my favorites to date. I had to put the book down a few times because of information overload. Fascinating twists and turns throughout. I highly recommend this title for anyone who loves time travel books!
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Time travel seems to be popular again these days and this novel, which is a really creative example of the genre is definitely worth a read, even if you aren't a sci-fi fan.  It's well written and very complex (I wonder is Mastri kept a chart on the wall to keep track o f things,)  It might seem a bit confusing at first but stick with it.  You learn about the characters slowly and the message of the plot may not seem obvious at first but it's worth it.  THanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
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I had to DNF this after the first 80 pages or so. I really enjoyed the writing style. I thought it was a fun voice that flowed nicely and kept me wanting to read more. But when a book written by a man starts out with that man sleeping with four women in quick succession (because they just couldn't help themselves, he was GRIEVING) and then the fifth woman he sleeps with ruins her career because SHE was purposefully being sexually reckless and promiscuous and ends up pregnant (because pregnancy ALWAYS ruins women's careers, didn't you know?!) and said man admits that he was TOO LAZY AND STUPID to insist on wearing a condom? Yeah, no. Also, his mother (who has died suddenly) is this doormat that his father just walks all over and though the mother is written as extremely unfulfilled and depressed. and the son KNEW this, he never did a single thing to help her? And just accepted that this was what his mother was meant to do? WHY. This is a big reason why I don't read many adult books by men. I just can't get past things like this, which feel so damaging and avoidable.
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Tom Barren lives in 2016 – but not our 2016. He lives in the futuristic world that was imagined in the optimistic 1950s, filled with flying cars, moon bases, and automated food and clothing made specifically for each person’s taste. Due to the invention of the Gottreider Engine, a machine that draws power from the movement of the Earth’s orbit, there is an endless source of clean energy – which means the people of this alternate 2016 have no environmental damages, no greenhouse gasses and no global warming. Everyone’s needs are catered to and everything seems to be perfect, but Tom is still unhappy.

After the death of his homemaker mother, Tom goes to work for his successful scientist father, who is planning to send a team of time-travelling “chrononauts” back to the moment that the Gottreider Engine was first invented in 1965. Tom is training as a backup chrononaut to superstar Penelope – his father has no faith in his abilities and doesn’t trust Tom to actually travel back in time. However, when events take a surprising turn and Penelope is unable to travel, Tom ends up alone in our version of 2016. To him, our world seems like a dystopian wasteland of pollution and suffering. 

When Tom wakes up in a hospital, surrounded by a family that seems familiar but is strangely different, he finds out that his name is John Barren and he is a successful architect in Toronto. He tries to explain that he has just travelled from an alternate timeline, but his sister (who did not exist in his former world) insists that his delusions are taken from John’s unpublished novel, which was originally based on his childhood fantasies about another, futuristic world. Tom begins to doubt his own reality, but he holds on to the idea that John and himself have always been connected through the fabric of time. 

Uncertain about his grasp on reality, Tom attempts to live as John. However, he holds on to Tom’s dreams by searching for the Penelope of this world – instead of a successful, independent and sometimes cruel chrononaut, the version of her in this 2016 is a quirky, thoughtful bookshop owner named Penny. Against all odds, Penny believes Tom’s story and the two form a powerful bond that may stand the test of alternate timelines. However, when Tom meets Gottreider, the inventor of the engine, he must decide whether his own happiness is worth more than the chance to give our 2016 a source of clean energy that will increase global health and happiness. It is an interesting way of looking at Utilitarian philosophical theory, and forces us to question what we would do in the same situation.

All Our Wrong Todays is written as a memoir of Tom’s travels. I found his voice to be incredibly annoying at first, but the tone changes as he grows as a character, confronting his individual and collective past. Tom’s provocative voice and its development show Mastai’s talent as a writer, especially as someone so unlikeable becomes completely empathetic by the end of the novel. Even Tom writes that he is embarrassed by the earlier, more offensive passages of his memoir, as he develops into a better person. My enjoyment of the book crept up on me as well – I didn’t love it at first, but all of a sudden I couldn’t put it down, and I thought about it when I wasn’t reading. Some parts were repetitious, but it didn’t take away from the overall momentum of the fast-paced plot.

This novel is obviously going to invite comparison to Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter, released last year. While the two books have a lot in common – quantum theory, alternate timelines, the effect one person’s actions can have on the lives of many – I found this one to be much more quirky and entertaining. Mastai gives us a lot to think about, and he makes his philosophy very accessible. I especially liked the idea (taken from French philosopher Paul Virilio) that every time a new technology is invented, the “accident” of that technology is also invented – so when the airplane was invented, so was the plane crash. In his memoir, Tom writes that the accident applies to people as well, and “every person you meet introduces the accident of that person to you…[t]here is no intimacy without consequence.” (Loc. 156) Tom experiences these accidents firsthand, and his reactions are always very human and relatable. 

There is so much content and so many ideas here, and I think many different kinds of readers could potentially enjoy this novel. As our own world becomes more technologically advanced, fulfilling some of those dreams that Tom talks about from the 1950s, the line between science fiction and literary writing is becoming less obvious. As Tom tells us, “[t]hat’s all science is. A collection of the best answers we have right now. It’s always open to revision.” (Loc. 2343) Authors like Mastai are inspiring that revision in all of us.  

I received this book from Penguin Random House and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I've pondered over All Our Wrongs Today for a few weeks.  I originally thought that I would rate this as a 2 star effort but realized I was being a bit harsh in my assessment.  Part of this comes from my dislike of all the incarnations of the protagonist, Tom Barren.  He is an as ass In each of the realities he is thrusts himself toward.  Although his name is different in each of these realities the one consistent is that he is a narcissist.  Everything is about him.  He does come to a realization that he can become an amalgam of all of these individuals but most of the book is directed towards the selfish needs of him.

So taking my dislike of the character and looking at the overall direction Elan Mastai Was taking I came to an understanding that maybe that was the point all along.  He is self centered but he is finding himself looking into that mirror that reflects that back at him.  He dislikes what he sees.  He recognizes the need to grow and that in itself is growth.  What he does has an impact on the world but so does the choices of everyone else.  The understanding that he doesn't live in a vacuum and that there are different choices each person makes is an epiphany that is the catalyst for dramatic change.  The world is what he makes it.  His choices are a small eddy in the confluence of events.

I can't quite get to a 4 star rating because there was an annoying amount of repitition in his retrospection of how things turn out.  He pines over these meaningless one night conquests of women that he himself says were meaningless and self serving.  So the writing for me was a little strained.  The premises is still interesting but it could have been handled a bit differently.  Which is easy to say since I'm not the writer.  

As a first novel All Our Wrongs Today offers a glimpse into the possibilities that Elan Mastai brings to the table.  I look forward to reading more from him.
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4.5 stars.  “Is it possible to think outside the box of your ideology?  Or is ideology the box and you just have to work at opening it? Maybe it’s too late for us and the best we can do is raise a generation less shackled by outmoded dreams, free to imagine something…else”.  I am not one who usually goes for time travel stories but I am so glad I received an advanced copy of this book. I finished it several days ago and honestly, I am still having a hard time articulating my feelings about it. 

 The premise:  In Tom Barren’s 2016, humanity thrives in an amazing utopian paradise.  There is no war, no pollution, no waste and equality truly exists.  But even in a world of perfection, people are not always shielded from their problems.  Tom is struggling with his place in life and trying to figure out his path.  He is not accomplished by his society’s standards and gives off quite the slacker vibe.  A terrible twist of fate causes him to make a decision that dramatically alters the course of his life and the entire universe.  Tom decides to travel back in time and things go horribly awry as he finds himself in our present day 2016.  Our current reality is a repulsive, alternative dystopia to Tom and initially he longs to return to his life in the future.  But he slowly realizes that not everything is gloom and doom here in present day 2016, as he discovers that in this life he has a complete family, a successful career and a girl he desperately loves.  Will Tom fix his mistake and return the universe to its previous perfect state, or will he choose to stay in the unorganized chaos that is our present world surrounded by people he loves?
I have to say that I found some parts of the book confusing and there were several instances where I had to re-read passages to keep everything straight.  There was even a point where I thought that Tom was just severely delusional and at any moment he was going to wake up in a psych ward. Tom’s character was at times extremely aggravating, but by the end of the book he had endeared himself to me and I found myself cheering him on as he matched wits with Lionel.  The future and present day Penelope broke my heart, (though I much preferred present day Penelope’s character).  The last few chapters left me wide eyed and dying to know what choice Tom would make. Would he choose the greater good so everyone would again be living in peace and perfection or would he opt to stay in the messy but happy present?  This book checked all the boxes for me and I think this would be an amazing selection for a book club discussion. It’s different, strange, intelligent, emotional and thought provoking.   Do yourself a favor and read it.  I promise you, you will not be disappointed.  Thank you so much to Netgalley and Dutton for a copy of this amazing story in exchange for my honest review.
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I enjoyed this book, it was not the easiest to follow, but it was a good read non the less. I would have enjoyed a different ending, it just seemed to stop.
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It isn't often I get to start a book review with a disclaimer. The disclaimer is this- I received this book for review from NetGalley, but I had already purchased the book from Amazon just a few hours prior to getting the ok to review it. So, I wound up reading the finished version of the book rather than the galley, but I wanted to be up front that I had received a copy free for review as well.

 When I had read the description of this book, I got really excited about it- time travel, disjointed time lines, and a person living in our world even though it should be a different world. What I wasn't prepared for was how technical this book can get, which was kind of fun, but might not be for everyone. I'll give you an example, our protagonist early in the book explains time travel and stated that movie time travel is impossible because the Earth is also spinning as well as going around the moon, so jumping backward in time in the movies doesn't account for the world's rotations. Except the protagonist continues to explain this using math and science.

This isn't the only instance of this in the book, but I wanted the reader to be prepared that this tries to be a very scientifically based in reality book on time travel and it takes a bit of getting used to.

 The book is divided up into three acts, essentially:

 Act 1- Is Tom Barren, who lives in 2016, but a much advanced 2016 due to a science experiment in 1965, is a stand in for a group of time travelers who are going to go back in time to witness this great experiment. Act 1 is his story in that time period. Something goes wrong, no spoilers, and Tom makes the jump back in time.

 Act II- Tom has gone back in time, made a mistake (again no spoilers), and now is in a different timeline when he goes back- namely our 2016. Since he was never born, due to his mess up, he now inhabits John who has a different life than Tom's. The difficulty is John is still a part of Tom's consciousness.

 Act III- Is where things get super messy, like really super messy and might lose a few people. Without spoiling, Tom/John must go back and try to fix the mistake. The problem is both Tom and Tom/John both exist now and a second mistake will happen which will create a new personality all trying to inhabit the same body/consciousness.

 Going into it, I wasn't aware of these three acts which is why I wanted to lift them up into the review as they read like three separate books. It got a tad bit confusing since the book is written as a journal, so you don't know who is writing as the book progresses.

The book also gets a bit messy at the end, but not so much that I got lost, but I could see people quitting toward the end IF they hung on through the second act, which is also messy.

 I really enjoyed that this tried to be as scientifically accurate as possible. It reminded me of the movie Primer in that sense. Yes, there is time travel, which is fantasy, but the very idea that one tiny mistake really can create a butterfly effect makes sense. This also might be the detriment of the book to some. I enjoyed it though.

 I gave this one 3.5 stars.
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My review likely won't do justice to how much I loved this book. 

It's a time travel adventure, but with an unusual amount of heart and insight into human feelings and how our world works. And casting our version of 2016 as the alternate dystopia is a really clever narrative device. Things get a bit convoluted at points, but overall this is an interesting and deep take on time travel and what it might do to someone.

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley. The review is my own.
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Loved it. A really good dystopian novel.a really hooking read with a unique plot
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I found this to be a thoughtful and entertaining take on the time travel story.  Time travel stories have plenty of tropes, and it seems like most of it’s been done before.  Mastai’s debut novel takes those tropes, mashes them together, and comes out with something that feels new.  I had a few issues with this novel but overall I really enjoyed it.

Narrator Tom Barren is in his mid-twenties in a present day that looks very different from our own.  A new, limitless power source has led to scientific developments that have wiped out most poverty, crime, and disease.  It has also led to advancements in space travel.  And, for the first time, time travel is about to be a reality.

Tom works for his father, a sort of mad scientist and a lousy dad, who is the inventor of time travel.  Dr. Barren’s whole career is wrapped up in getting time travel right.  Due to a series of mishaps, Tom jumps into the time machine and heads back to the 1960’s, when the limitless power source is about to be invented.  But will Tom’s dash into the past have implications for the future?  Of course!

There’s a healthy dose of Back to the Future in this book, but then again, the idea that going back in time might endanger your future (and indeed, your very existence) wasn’t new to Back to the Future either.  Mastai gives us a clever story that looks at what happens as a result of Tom’s travel to 1965.  The twist is this: instead of going back to his idealized high-tech existence, he ends up in the present we know, where everyone has cell phones but the world is still fighting over power.  I won’t tell you much more, except that Tom has to wrestle with interesting issues relating to parallel timelines, such as whether he likes his family better in this world or that one, what happens to all the people who exist in one world but are never born in the other one (and why was he born in both times when others are not), and who is he in this timeline?  Most importantly, if Tom has the chance to undo what he's done, should he?

The current state of the world isn't because we stopped believing in an optimistic spirit of wonder and discovery... the current state of the world is the consequence of that belief. People are despondent about the future because they're increasingly aware that we, as a species, chased an inspiring dream that led us to ruin.  We told ourselves the world is here for us to control, so the better our technology, the better our control, the better our world will be.  The fact that for every leap in technology the world gets more sour and chaotic is deeply confusing.
There’s a “meta” aspect to this book which is often very clever (but occasionally a bit self-conscious).  For example, as Tom is writing this narrative he often comments on how he’s writing it and occasionally goes back and re-reads it.  There’s even a question of whether this is all just someone’s idea for a science fiction novel.  Tom also tells us that books don’t even exist in his world, because technology has all become completely interactive.  No one ever reads the same story.

I only have two criticisms of this book.  The first is this: Tom has a really annoying and unlikable voice in the first part of the book.  He’s whiny, sexist, and complains a lot without accomplishing much of anything.  He hates his father but seems fine mooching off him for a job.  He mourns his dead mother but has no problem using his sadness to get women in bed.  Fortunately, we soon see Tom grow as a character and then the book gets really good, but if I wasn’t reading this for NetGalley I might have given up on it early on.

My other criticism comes towards the end, and it’s this: Tom’s adventures in time get to a certain point where I felt the paradoxes just got a little ridiculous.  I prefer time travel stories to keep it as simple and linear as possible.  For me it becomes too complicated when multiple timelines start wrapping around each other. On the other hand, if you don’t mind a time travel story getting really mind-bending, you will like this one.

In general, this was a story I really enjoyed.  Mastai isn’t trying to re-invent the time travel novel; rather it feels like he’s paying homage to the many visions of alternative futures and pasts that have come before him.

Note: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and publisher Dutton Books.  The book was released February 7, 2016.
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"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 discovered 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!
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