A review by isleoflinds
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin

challenging emotional informative reflective sad tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


I went into this book with mixed expectations. I tried reading it when it was first released, but couldn't get into it. When it started getting a lot of attention, I heard a negative review for it that made it sound really interesting, so I took another shot. As an ace person who is pretty steeped in nerd culture, I was really excited for a story sold as "two friends who were often in love -- but never lovers." To that end, I was not disappointed. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow delivered all the gaming nostalgia and a heart-tugging story about a different kind of love. However, there were elements of the book - especially the second half -  that were tedious and, at least to me, undercut a lot of the first half seemed to build up to. 

I thought that the characters - Sadie and Sam - were really well-rounded and flawed, but believable people. I was disappointed in the development of the character Marx, who felt most often like a plot device despite also appearing to be almost as significant as Sam and Sadie. Many of the tropes included about halfway through also felt unnecessary and I think a lot of the tension between Sadie and Sam could have happened without employing them. In general, I think Sadie's story was marred by too many gender-related difficulties. I know that being a woman in tech (now, but especially in the 90s) was difficult, but the bulk of the harm she experienced wasn't even related to her work, and I just wish we could have seen her face other issues. 

The structure of the book was incredibly compelling - it is built around the vague idea that each "part" is its own game. Especially in the first half of the book, I could really feel the themes aligning with the structure of the book in an intriguing way. The story took a lot of turns in the second half that were just not for me (
Spoilermiscommunication trope, two accidental pregnancy tropes for the same character, dead baby daddy, and just a general waste of what could have been a really enlightening use of the NPC chapter concept.
) and I do think it affected my reading. The execution of Part IV was by far my favorite use of the novel's video game structure, however, and made the closeout of the story more satisfying.

Overall, I think that Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow had great bones for a story, I just wish it had been a little shorter and/or that it had spent more time considering the significance of Marx. In a story about the complex ways that people can love one another, Marx was central to this, and making <spoilers>the NPC</spoilers> seemed more of an afterthought to be profound rather. 

My final very small complaint is the little statement at the end about <spoilers>"this generation thinking their whole personality is their trauma." I am a millennial, so perhaps this very Gen X sentiment just isn't for me, but in 2022, the inclusion of this bit feels quite purposeful. It was said and largely abandoned, squeezed in at the end and unexplored. Why say something that significant and then end the book with "oh I guess maybe our trauma made us who we are too... or maybe not!" Trauma use colloquially often refers to 'the difficult things I have experienced in my life that give me perspective on the world and how I interact with it.' Perhaps this is nuanced, but it just felt quite dismissive and not necessary.</spoilers>

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