challenging emotional funny reflective sad medium-paced
- Plot- or character-driven? Character
- Strong character development? Yes
- Loveable characters? It's complicated
- Diverse cast of characters? Yes
- Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes
"What is a 'programmer'? ... A programmer is a diviner of possible outcomes, and a seer of unseen worlds." p. 351
Here's my hot take: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is the book that Normal People wanted to be. An intense, uncomfortable look into the unhealthy relationship between two young individuals with their own traumas. Don't get me wrong, both Sam and Sadie were incredibly frustrating characters. Both had the capacity to be selfish and cruel. Neither had developed particularly good communication skills. But their interactions always felt incredibly honest; it was never miscommunication for the sake of miscommunication. I could see myself in the best and the worst parts of each of them, and Marx too, and that made for a really special reading experience. (It also made for a very frustrating reading experience, as neither character was particularly likeable for large stretches of the book, but at the very least their cruelty could be empathized with and understood).
A few weeks ago, I made a comment to a friend that we don't see enough 'quirky' interactions between characters in books. Stupid inside jokes, dumb humor, etc. This book had it in spades and it was so refreshing. The twenty-something year-olds felt like me and my friends, laughing over stupid things that nobody else would find amusing and running with jokes long after they stopped being funny until they're suddenly funny again. In a similar vein, Zevin's descriptions of the most mundane things felt incredibly grounded in the weird way that our brains make observations and connections. I loved it all.
The other thing I loved about this book was the creativity Zevin demonstrated with her writing. For one, you could tell that this was a love story to video games, written by someone who's intimately familiar with them. Not only did this show in her references, but in some very specific creative chapter structures. We got a chapter in second person, some interview blurbs, and one chapter entirely through the eyes of a player character in a game. These came at pivotal moments in the book, and the emotion that came with them was all the stronger as a result of the way the chapter was written. There was so much sentimentality towards the end of the book, a testament to all that these characters went through over the past thirty years, with some really emotional call-backs that were well-integrated into the story.
I thought Zevin wrapped up the story perfectly; I would've been disappointed with any more or less. And I'm while left with this disappointment that I'll never experience Ichigo or Mapleworld, I felt sufficiently immersed in the games as I read about them, so I guess that just means I'll have to re-read at some point.
Graphic: Suicide, Mental illness, and Murder