All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
All Our Wrong Todays is excellent. It’s a time travel book that doesn’t assault your brain with difficult to follow science, yet it is still well-thought out, intelligent, and challenging. Mr. Mastai has a truly fresh, creative, plausible idea for the way the actual time travel happens in his story, and I found it fascinating. I truly appreciate an author who can make a complete, coherent plan for what he wants to say, then use his writing skill to foresee and answer most--if not all--of the questions we readers could possibly have, and thus present a solid, enjoyable, intriguing piece of writing.

If you read a lot, as I do, then you’ll know that in general, this is terribly difficult to do. No matter what the subject matter is. Which is why it’s so refreshingly great to read remarkable books, like this one.

Another neat thing about this novel is when Mr. Mastai does wander into the truly incomprehensible portions of science or technology needed to pull off his time travel ideas, he uses a bit of humor and cheeky writing technique to simply explain off the unexplainable bits. Sort of like “you may be wondering about this, but it doesn’t need to be wondered about it, and I (the book character) don’t really fully get it, so let’s just agree to move past it, shall we? This could appear to be a cheap way to get out of things, but honestly it’s not. The tone and nature of the book, plus the voice of the narrator, work together to keep everything running smoothly. Even towards the end, when the plot, and the main character, are hurtling back and forth in time and we can start to feel like things are getting too deep...too intense...and all is in danger of unravelling...the author keeps everything together, smartly and wisely explaining the details just enough to keep the plot understandable and entertaining.

There’s an excellent pace and arc to the story as well. The first third or so is somewhat light and humorous, but as the action and intensity in the middle increases, the writing is more introspective and dark. And throughout it all, there are some slow, retrospective chapters that allow for a bit of relaxation and contemplation, before everything is kicked up again. And finally when the end comes, it thankfully doesn’t ruin this fine book, it just effectively wraps it all up in an uplifting and satisfying manner.

Tom Barren, the main character, also follows an emotional, harrowing path as he goes from a light, easy-going existence to one filled with despair, to happiness, to confusion, to danger, to rising to the occasion, and lastly to resolution. He begins as a likeable loser type who I enjoyed, but didn't necessarily appreciate much at first. However, as I moved with him through time, and interacted with the other book characters with him, I found that he absolutely grew into a respectable person who really made me think about myself.

This is because there’s a lot of humanity in this book intertwined with the classic sci-fi themes and cool time travel bits. Tom has a family he struggles to connect with, then he switches time-lines, finds himself with a new/same family, and he’s still struggling to connect. There’s also Penny, his romantic interest, who is an object of fantasy in one timeline, but a true love in the other. As with everything in the book, Mr. Mastai handles these relationships with smart, clever, thoughtful writing.

Speaking of the writing, you’ll see from the other reviews there is an unusual technique in this book where the writer moves from first person to a bit of second person here and there. And mixes in some past present third person in a future tense. I just made that up but there are a variety of perspectives in the book. However, it all works. There’s a reason for each switch. And it all works together to form a refreshing writing style that’s odd, immersive, and well-executed.

Overall, I definitely recommend All Our Wrong Todays to mature readers who enjoy many different kinds of genres. Sci-fi, contemporary, romance, adventure, utopian, future tech, etc. This one covers a lot of territory. There is a fair amount of strong language in the book (“f” words and etc) and some small bits of sex and violence, though nothing overly offensive. It’s for mature readers simply because even though it’s written well and explained clearly, it’s still a complex, multi-layered story that requires some focus and thought. Yet because of Mr. Mastai’s skillful wordsmanship, it’s still entirely approachable, so don’t hesitate to time travel with this novel when it is officially released in Feb. of 2017--I think you’ll dig the journey.

Happy Reading!

(I received an advance reader’s copy of this book by replying to a promotional email from the publisher.)