Penguin Random House, 2017
Reviewed by Megan Johnson Barr
Tom Barren lives in the futuristic world of 2016, not the 2016 that you and I have lived through, no. Tom lives in an alternate timeline, a technological utopia where cars fly, meals are synthesized, and time travel is the next big scientific breakthrough. In All Our Wrong Todays, Elan Mastai guides us on a journey through Tom’s experiences with love, loss, self-discovery, and of course, time travel.
This imaginative sci-fi novel takes us through the consequences of meddling with the past. Tom ends up in 2016 due to an accident he caused at an earlier date. However, this version of 2016 is not the technological utopia he grew up in. Tom describes his new surroundings as a “sad, broken planet” where the greatest technological advancements begin and end with the latest generation of iPhone and it’s his fault. He’s why we don’t have flying cars, sustainable energy, and robot butlers.
While the main focus of the book is time travel, this novel is really about Tom, a self-deprecating, unsuccessful, disappointment to his father. His failures are what shape this story. The plot of All Our Wrong Todays revolves around time-travel, but the most captivating part of the story is Tom’s character growth as he journeys through time to almost literally turn his life around. Tom is very human, and this is what makes him so relatable, so likeable.
“That’s the magic trick of creating life—it takes every bad decision you ever made and makes them necessary footsteps on the treacherous path that brought you home” Tom writes in his memoir, this book readers are holding. It is his apology for the world we have.
The smart, funny prose and the lighthearted, self-aware tone are what make the novel so readable. All Our Wrong Todays is an imaginative, fun, and heartbreaking novel that hooks the reader and leaves her wanting more. Mastai was born in Vancouver and currently lives in Toronto. All Our Wrong Todays is his first novel. He has worked for the past 15 years as a screenwriter. His most notable work is The F Word. Hewon the Canadian Screen Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2014.