The Premise: the future everyone thought would happen in 1950 (think Back to the Future 2) came true, thanks to an invention which harnessed the power of the Earth’s movements and consequently revolutionised all technology. Life is less than perfect, however, for Tom Barren, for whom flying cars and an absence of print media don’t make up for his horrible father, who is at the forefront of time travel research. Are you with me? Anyway, a freak combination of events sends Tom back to the past, and an entirely different version of his life. Can he get home? And, indeed, should he bother?
Thoughts: just so you know, that synopsis was completely inadequate for expressing how brilliant this book is. It’s one of the best sci-fi novels I’ve ever read. End of review.
Actually, having received a copy of this through NetGalley, I should probably say more things than just “it is brilliant.” Even though it is. So, here’s some more analytical detail. I loved the premise of this book; although I generally do not understand time travel at all, I really enjoyed the time travel element here, especially the strange ways in which Tom’s reality and the alternate version intersected. It was quite confusing, but I think time travel stories are also confusing (probably because they’re about a technology that doesn’t actually exist) so this is fine with me. The parts that related to the Goettreider Engine – the machine which changed the course of history – were really fascinating; the question of how a single act or moment can affect literally everything is explored brilliantly here and I was completely enthralled.
I’ve seen that some readers have enjoyed the book less because they didn’t find Tom a sympathetic character, but I don’t need a character to be likeable for me to like their story; if anything, it’s more interesting if they’re a bit snarky, which is definitely the case with Tom. And it’s not like there isn’t a reason; having lost his mother and found himself stuck with a father more interested in going back in time than a future with his son, it’s hardly surprising that he went a bit Holden Caulfield.
In Conclusion: I found All Our Wrong Todays really, really engaging. There was only one part in the whole book which I objected to, which would be far too spoiler-y to mention here, but didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment. The book has similarities to Ready Player One in terms of tone and All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (one of my favourite books of 2016) in its dizzying plot and use of technology as a key plot element. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did, which is the kind of surprise I’m prepared to deal with.