How do you approach hyped books? I tend to buy them immediately and then put them on the shelf for years. The minute people start praising a book, I lose all confidence in it. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve heard nothing but good things about a book that I didn’t like. Or, at least, that I didn’t find very interesting. So, I do worry when a book comes along that sounds right up my street but is also massively hyped. It didn’t help that my friend also insisted that I give this one a chance. I do tend to trust her judgement so I decided it was finally time. I figured this would be good holiday reading but I didn’t start it until near the end of the week. Getting back to work meant that it took ages to finish it
Before I started reading this book, I started having Ready Player One flashbacks. I was worried that, like the popular YA book, it would rely too heavily on pop culture references and lack depth. Of course, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow does have its fair share of pop culture references and 90s nostalgia. However, it is so much more than a book about video games. Instead, it’s a rather epic book that spans three decades of friendship. It sounded like exactly the kind of book that gets me interested.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow focuses on Sam and Sadie. The pair met as kids and bonded over a shared love of video games. Hours, days and months were spent in a hospital trying to beat every game they could find. As often happens, an incident tore them apart for years until a chance meeting at college reintroduces them. Eventually, the pair decide that their only real course of action available to them is to make a game together. This is the first step in a journey that will last for a few decades of ups and downs. There will be arguments, tragedies and misunderstandings. But there will also be fun and love. Can these almost lifelong friends overcome the obstacles associated with adult life?
On the back of this book are the words “This is not a romance, but it is about love.” For quite a while, I worried that this might not be true and that we were edging ever closer to an epic romance. Thankfully, I was wrong. Instead, this book gets to the heart of great friendships. It’s not all plain sailing and it’s not all positive. It’s realistic. It explores the intimacy that two people can have when they share a passion. That connection that comes from playing together and the difficulties that can come from working together. Sam and Sadie are great protagonists in their own right but together they portray the complexities of human connection and platonic love.
Although this is a book about video games, it’s not inaccessible to non-gamers. It perfectly conveys the sensation of being lost in a game and the feeling of anything being possible. The title of the book, taken from a soliloquy from Macbeth, has been repurposed to present the idea of infinity. To present the idea that video games can offer you infinite lives and rebirths. According to George RR Martin, “a reader lives a thousand lives before he dies”. Well, so do gamers. In virtual worlds, death is not the end but simply a chance to start again. Even if you haven’t played a game in your life, this book easily presents that idea to you. This is a book about video games but it’s also a book about passion. It’s a book about being so involved in something that you want to include it in every aspect of your life. It’s a universal experience.
As well as being a book that is relatable, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow is a book that is readable. It’s pretty well-paced and has fast and slow moments. It always manages to keep you engaged and wanting to read on. There are passages set inside video games or presented in more abstract ways. I won’t say that Gabrielle Zevin is doing anything revolutionary but she is doing something better. This is a book that I enjoyed reading and would happily go back to in the future. It’s good writing and it taps into something that everyone can appreciate. It balances the line between charming and overly sentimental perfectly so that even a cynic like me can get emotional. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow was one of those books that everyone was talking about and, after finally reading it, I can see why.
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