Friday 10 March 2017

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

Published by Michael Joseph on March 2, 2017

It would be unusual to call a book like All Our Wrong Todays timely, given that we are not, at least I don’t think we are, living in a world of science-fiction and time travel. But in a way, I do see All Our Wrong Todays as a timely novel, because the premise is similar. When we meet Tom Barren, he tells the reader how he comes from the world “we were supposed to have”. This is a thought that will have crossed many people’s minds over the past couple of years - that the world as it is now, within both political and economic situations, is not where it should be. Almost like we’re living in an alternate universe, one with Donald Trump and Brexit and a whole host of idolised celebrities, gone. But what if time travel was an option? What if a better world was out there?

I have never read a book like All Our Wrong Todays before. I don’t think I’ll ever read a book like it again. But I absolutely loved this debut novel from screenwriter Elan Mastai.

All Our Wrong Todays is fresh and creative. It’s fascinating and enthralling, with observations of the world that are both witty and thought-provoking, at times sentimental and at others, quite the opposite. It is a book that I could not stop thinking about, and the more I thought about it, the more plausible it all became.

This is not just a book about time travel, a science fiction book with a utopian theme. This is a story about a man who misses his mother, who died in a freak accident, who is lacking a relationship with his father. A man whose surname is a hindrance. A man who falls in love, and then loses that love. A man who, through his time travel mishap, is presented with the opportunity of saving the woman he is in love with. If only he could let go of the Penelope he knew before…

I don’t want to spoil the story. I will talk about the writing style which I found truly mesmerising. The story is narrated in short chapters, some a page long, some three or four pages long. They are quick, and utterly addictive. Some are as genius as a series of repeated swear words. Some are a summary of what we’ve read so far. Others serve as space for the narrator to get his head around things. About his reality, and the other reality. I’d like to say I spent time thinking about what I had read between each chapter, but in my reality, I didn’t, because I barely stopped for breath when reading All Our Wrong Todays. I was absolutely hooked from the first line and found myself incapable of doing anything else but read from the moment I picked this book up. The storytelling is very engaging, and quirky, and brilliant. Tom, who even he would probably admit is a little bit pitiable early on in this book, is a character I strangely couldn’t help but root for. Who I enjoyed seeing develop throughout. He is a character that I will still remember now I’ve finished the book.

All Our Wrong Todays is a book to be savoured. If you can’t make yourself slow down reading it, which I couldn’t, then at least know that it is a book that you will think about a lot. A book that you will remember. It is a book that holds appeal even if you find time travel and sci-fi too out-there to enjoy. Within the pages of this book holds a powerful and riveting exploration of human emotion, the choices we make and the people we can become. All Our Wrong Todays is a book I will be recommending to everyone.

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