Synopsis: You know the future that people in the 1950s imagined we’d have? Well, it happened. In Tom Barren’s 2016, humanity thrives in a techno-utopian paradise of flying cars, moving sidewalks, and moon bases, where avocados never go bad and punk rock never existed . . . because it wasn’t necessary.
Except Tom just can’t seem to find his place in this dazzling, idealistic world, and that’s before his life gets turned upside down. Utterly blindsided by an accident of fate, Tom makes a rash decision that drastically changes not only his own life but the very fabric of the universe itself. In a time-travel mishap, Tom finds himself stranded in our 2016, what we think of as the real world. For Tom, our normal reality seems like a dystopian wasteland.
Corey: So, this is our second time-travelly mind-fuckery buddy read, after Dark Matter. Plus, you are just finishing 11/22/63. Can you tell me what year it is?
Holly: I believe it is somewhere between 1959 & infinity.
Corey: I think Tom Barren is a pretty great narrator for a time travel novel. Because he is as fucking confused and mystified about how it all works as the reader. I liked that.
Holly: Yes! Tom was all of us! I loved that, how he summarized everything that was going on. I thought that was a nice touch by Mastai! It helped to simplify some of the science fiction jargon.
Corey: I was also a big fan of how self-aware this novel is. How Tom kind of breaks the fourth wall a bit. Especially because there were parts of his character, towards the beginning, that were….meh. But then to have him come around, and acknowledge he was being a bit of a dick…
Holly: Yeah! Breaking the fourth wall sometimes pisses me off, because it takes me out of the story. I thought it was really well done. It suited the character & style of writing.
Holly: I try not to read anything about the book until I have written a review, but I saw that Mastai sold the rights to the movie & is currently working on a screenplay. I can totally see this on the big screen!
Corey: It’ll be interesting to see how “full Jetsons” they take things in the film, Tom having come from a technologically advanced utopia. Wait… is it a utopia?
Holly: Utopian, yes! Flying cars, no punk rock (THE HORROR) pill food, ROBOTS. I kind of want a full on, ridiculously over the top Jetsons for the utopian portion of the film. Then in stark contrast, a dark, bleak, depressing 2016. Oh.. wait.
Holly: I thought Tom was really able to bring the reader into the story, making a time travel novel seem more believable. He was also a character you can’t help but want to see succeed.
Corey: Overall, I was a fan. It was light-hearted without being too fluffy. And it had plenty to say about the choices we make, and the relationships we build, without being too preachy or trite.
Holly: I personally find time travel to be so played out, yet Elan Mastai managed to bring something new to the trope. Sci-fi & non sci-fi readers alike should find this an easy story to get into. It has a little something for everybody! A science fiction time travel thriller with comedic moments & a love story sprinkled on top.
Holly: I really liked it & look forward to more from Mastai. He has an enjoyable, effervescent way with storytelling. A little wacky, a lot of heart.
The Grimdragons Rating: Four flying cars!
(Thank you to Dutton Books for providing us with a copy before the release date, in exchange for an honest review!)