4.5 stars. “Is it possible to think outside the box of your ideology? Or is ideology the box and you just have to work at opening it? Maybe it’s too late for us and the best we can do is raise a generation less shackled by outmoded dreams, free to imagine something…else”. I am not one who usually goes for time travel stories but I am so glad I received an advanced copy of this book. I finished it several days ago and honestly, I am still having a hard time articulating my feelings about it. The premise: In Tom Barren’s 2016, humanity thrives in an amazing utopian paradise. There is no war, no pollution, no waste and equality truly exists. But even in a world of perfection, people are not always shielded from their problems. Tom is struggling with his place in life and trying to figure out his path. He is not accomplished by his society’s standards and gives off quite the slacker vibe. A terrible twist of fate causes him to make a decision that dramatically alters the course of his life and the entire universe. Tom decides to travel back in time and things go horribly awry as he finds himself in our present day 2016. Our current reality is a repulsive, alternative dystopia to Tom and initially he longs to return to his life in the future. But he slowly realizes that not everything is gloom and doom here in present day 2016, as he discovers that in this life he has a complete family, a successful career and a girl he desperately loves. Will Tom fix his mistake and return the universe to its previous perfect state, or will he choose to stay in the unorganized chaos that is our present world surrounded by people he loves?
I have to say that I found some parts of the book confusing and there were several instances where I had to re-read passages to keep everything straight. There was even a point where I thought that Tom was just severely delusional and at any moment he was going to wake up in a psych ward. Tom’s character was at times extremely aggravating, but by the end of the book he had endeared himself to me and I found myself cheering him on as he matched wits with Lionel. The future and present day Penelope broke my heart, (though I much preferred present day Penelope’s character). The last few chapters left me wide eyed and dying to know what choice Tom would make. Would he choose the greater good so everyone would again be living in peace and perfection or would he opt to stay in the messy but happy present? This book checked all the boxes for me and I think this would be an amazing selection for a book club discussion. It’s different, strange, intelligent, emotional and thought provoking. Do yourself a favor and read it. I promise you, you will not be disappointed. Thank you so much to Netgalley and Dutton Publishing for an advance copy of this amazing story in exchange for my honest review.