Published by Michael Joseph on 2nd March 2017
When Tom loses the love of his life, time travel seems like the only answer. . . what could possibly go wrong?
Elan Mastai’s breakthrough novel brings a whole new dimension to a classic love story
So, the thing is, I come from the world we were supposed to have.
That means nothing to you, obviously, because you live here, in the crappy world we do have.
But it never should’ve turned out like this. And it’s all my fault – well, me and to a lesser extent my father.
And, yeah, I guess a little bit Penelope.
In both worlds, she’s the love of my life. But only a single version of her can exist.
I have one impossible chance to fix history’s greatest mistake and save this broken world.
Except it means saving one Penelope and losing the other forever – and I have absolutely no idea which to choose . . .
I had heard good things about this book, so when I had the opportunity to get a copy from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review, I jumped at it.
Tom is from 2016, but not our 2016, his 2016 is a utopia, flying cars, perfect food, moving sidewalks and so on, life is perfect, but Tom doesn’t fit in, he is average, he is not a genius like his father and he struggles to hold down a job. His father gives him a job in the lab he runs and he is perfecting time travel and wants a team to go back to the moment that made the utopia they live in possible, the day in 1965 that the Goettleider engine was switched on. Tom meanwhile has fallen in love with another employee of his father, Penelope, she is the lead on the time travel experiment, but when something happens to stop her from becoming the first time traveller and results in her dismissal from the company, she kills herself. Distraught Tom uses the machine himself but doesn’t complete the protocols required before he travel back, this causes the timeline to change and when he returns to 2016 it is to our 2016, which to him seems a dystopian nightmare, but thin this timeline he is a successful architect named John. Should he try and restore the 2016 he knows, which could possible cause the timeline to change again but for the worse, or does he stay in a world in which he feels he belongs?
Firstly the formatting in the Netgalley edition was not brilliant, with words, spaced incorrectly and the books title and author name appearing in the middle of the text on the majority of pages, although this was annoying and distracted me at first one I got used to it I was able to enjoy the story.
The story itself is brilliant and Mastai explains why time travel in other stories simply won’t work because the earth moves so this needs to be taken into consideration when travelling in time.
Tom is a simple character to start with, not completely likable at this point, but he grows as we learn he is a product of this utopia, but he does not belong there. We also meet the other versions of him, John from our 2016 and Victor a version from yet another possible 2016, a truly dystopian 2016 and he is a solider, a survivor of the 3rd world war. Naturally these three different personas want to take control of the one body, they have all existed and they all want to exist, but although when absorbed together they make one complete human being, separately they are a nightmare.
The other characters are also well crafted, but complicated as there are multiple versions of some of them and in each timeline they are completely different.
The story twists and turns with each page and leads Tom to his ultimate decision, which is the best 2016 that they can hope for.
Well written and powerful this is a must read for all fans of time travel and dystopian fiction, there are some lovely and funny moments, and there are also some shocks as well, a real rollercoatser ride.
I only dropped this 1 star because the reasons for the suicide of Tom’s girl wasn’t believable to me and if you read the book you will understand why I found this bit hard to accept.