As the world gets more technologically advanced, some activities and mediums are becoming less common. Despite that fact, books continue to persevere, both on paper and on screens. And though gaming is an interactive medium, there are plenty of times where it crosses over into literature such as in Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. Instead of taking a game and turning it into a novel, Zevin has instead created a fiction about the ups and downs that come in trying to succeed in the gaming industry. A story about business and relationship, there’s a lot to unwrap in a novel about relationships, growing up, and video games.
On The Author
The mind behind this book is Gabrielle Zevin, an author based in Los Angeles. She has amassed quite a diverse collection of works for both young and old readers. They include such interesting titles like Elsewhere, The Hole We’re In, and most notably The Storied Life Of A. J. Fikry, which has been greenlit for a film adaptation. Though she has taken some liberties with elements in Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, this is her first attempt to write a book with video games at its core. Even so, the focus revolves around the two main leads, their personal growth, struggles, and the way that their relationship changes as they go from friends to business partners.
What Tomorrow Brings…
Though this is a work of fiction, Zevin does a good job of painting a grounded and believable world. Most of the novel takes place in New York and Los Angeles, centering on several neighborhoods. Even to someone who has never visited these cities, the details she uses present the cities in very clear light. As you read, you can feel the buildings grow around you as the sights and sounds start popping up. Zevin pays special attention to describing specific set pieces and cultural details.
There’s a distinct level of detail in Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow that doesn’t feel overwhelming. Whole environments come into play before the finer things come in to describe important aspects of the scene. Most is written third-person, but there are times where you don’t feel like just an observer. You feel like you’re a silent part of the scene as events unfold before you. This occurs exactly when it needs to, such as to highlight an interaction between two key characters. There’s a true moment of narrative genius when the third-person perspective shifts to first-person to describe a significant period of a character’s life. But I can’t go into any further without ruining the impact, so we’ll leave it there.
Meeting The Next Day
Then there are the characters themselves and how they come to life. As the description states, the story follows two friends who decide to go into business together making games. You have the socially-distant and logical Sam Masur who serves as a foil to the impulsive and creative Sadie Green. The way they’re written makes them appear as the left and right brain respectively of the body that is their game company. From the moment they meet to the last time we see them, there’s a significant connection present. We really get to see these characters grow from innocent children to flawed adults. They act like they know what they’re doing, but will break down only in front of each other.
This duo takes center stage but they are joined by what may be considered a necessary third wheel. This is the character of Marx Watanabe who comes in as a friend to Sam and acquaintance to Sadie. If Sam and Sadie are the two halves of the brain, Marx is the serotonin. He acts as a supportive and cheerful member of their team who seems to radiant goodness with his main flaw being oblivious to how his overly positive nature may negatively affect the people around him. He effectively embodies that idea that you can have too much of a good thing.
From a business sense and as someone who has both studied and worked in the gaming industry, Zevin has definitely done his homework. Though she doesn’t cover every single aspect that goes into making a game, she covers key elements that come across in the setting and the characters’ responses. Even to someone who has never thought about the business behind games, this book will give you a crash course into all the work that goes into it, the hard decisions that come from deciding between freedom and stability, the emotional toll that both success and failure take on a person, and the conflicts that inevitably arise between partners. All of the personal background we get for each character feeds into their behavior and trickles into every action they take.
Fearing The Future
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow may be a work of fiction — it tries to paint a very real picture — but at times, it loses its grip on reality. I don’t mean the scenes within games, but instead how certain scenes play out between characters. There are some that take place in the past with a lot of dialogue between children, yet the conversation and wording feels way too advanced at times. Not to say that children can’t have advanced vocabulary, just that this amount can be a bit too much.
The other issue is clarity. Generally the timeline moves consistently forward while jumping back at certain points when it seems relevant. However, there are a few noticeable moments where something occurs but it’s not completely clear what. Sometimes the wording is just a bit vague, begging for another pass over to properly understand. It does all come together, though, which makes up for the confusion.
Gabrielle Zevin presents an engaging work of fiction on gaming and relationships in Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. The characters feel alive, the settings feel real, the interactions grow believably, and everything has good pacing. It’s easy to appreciate the intertwining storylines and the wonderful ways the characters’ feelings towards each other mix. There are a few bumps with loss of clarity and some out-of-place dialogue, but these are minor quibbles. If you haven’t decided on future plans yet, pick this book up so you can read it tomorrow, tomorrow, and tomorrow.
This review is based on a copy provided by the publisher. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow: A Novel is available for purchase now via Penguin Random House as well as Amazon. You can learn more about the author and her other works through the official Gabrielle Zevin website.
Will Quick is a freelance media wizard living in Spain. When he's not gaming or writing, he's doodling comics or whatever else pops in his head.