No Happy Nonsense

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow / Gabrielle Zevin

January 20th, 2023 | Quickish Thoughts

Sadie Green and Sam Masur are like 12 years old each when they meet in the hospital; Sam has been in a horrific accident which killed his mother and mangled the shit outta his foot, Sadie's sister has leukemia. Sadie goes to the play room to play some Nintendo, and her and Sam hit it off.

They end up drifting apart for reasons, but then have a chance encounter when they're back in college. Sadie at MIT, Sam at Harvard.

Ultimately they end up making video games together. The year is like 1996 or so when they make their first game. It becomes a hit and they create a company between the two of them and Sam's roommate, Marx.

The years go by and life marches on as game after game gets created by the two characters and their company.

Gaming, games themselves, are integral in this world. It's easy to see games as some kind of cheap plastic gimmick in most stories. Used to show how a character isn't responsible or something like that. Tomorrow treats games as meta-narratives that are works of art. It feels like a real world that these characters grew up in. I know it's the type of world that I grew up in.

There's lots of questions about and harsh realities of dealing with identity: Sadie is a girl at MIT, Sam is half white and half korean, and so "not truly either", Sam also has a disability which further others him, Sam has somewhat a-sexual tendencies as well, Marx is half japanese half korean, but since he's "all asian" he can't play the lead roles in college play productions, Ichigo (the main character of the first game Sadie and Sam create together) is initially unidentified, referred to as they, but Sam sells this out to make a deal with a gaming company to sell the game.

The novel plays with form throughout, third person omniscient remains king but it slips into a sort of journalistic bend for one chapter, then a 1a/1b two sides of one story, then 2nd person pov, then going through the actions of characters in an MMO and then the chat log from the players.

It was just...good. I read this thing ravenously over the course of 2.5 days. I was ready to stay up til one in the morning to finish it but it wouldn't have really meshed with life on that day, so I woke up at 4:45am the next day and obliterated it.

It's a love story, coming of age story, yadda yadda, but at the heart of it, for my reading at least, it was about creation. The passion, chaos, and vulnerability of creating something and creating something with a partner. I think the entire story is set behind a lense of how difficult it is to create something, but all one can do is keep making new things.

Gabrielle Zevin's website has some cool little extras related to the book. Gonna have to check out her other books for sure. And check out the movie that will probably end up mediocre.

Filed Under: Reviews