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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

As someone with a penchant for some of those old arcade styled games - with their clearly visible pixelation - and an English teacher, the new release from Gabrielle Zevin Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow ticked many boxes. That font. That quote. What more could one hope for?

Zevin is a talented writer. Her novel The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is something of a cult classic, as is the award winning Elsewhere. Plus it’s hard to get past the fact that this new one (her tenth novel) was won by Paramount Pictures for a couple of million dollars, so is heading to the big screen with the cast yet to be announced.

The premise of the novel is a bit of a homage to the world of games. However, one does not need to be a lover of such to enjoy the narrative arc. Basically, two young people (Sadie and Sam) meet in a children’s hospital - don’t worry, it’s not a John Green type of thing - and then later in life they reunite and collaborate on games. Clearly both savants in their own way, there is an immediate chemistry between them, and what they create. While there are clearly romantic connections between the two of them, there is never a sense of intimacy that eventuates.

The two share a love of the game ‘Oregon Trail” (among others) and it’s through this that they connect in that fateful ward of the children’s hospital. Sam there because of an injury, and Sadie there to clock up some hours for community services.

Zevin, herself a gamer, is able to capture the immersive essence of gaming into this absolutely riveting read, creating worlds within worlds and bringing to the fore the rollercoaster of emotions that come with people, success, tragedy and ultimately humanity.

It’s the setting that really brings the sense of wonderment to the novel. Set against that magical era of developing gamification, the internet, and computers in general, the story captivates on the burgeoning world of the reality of life, and the reality that be created through computer-mediated situations. In achieving this, Zevin really focuses on the humanistic attributes and relationships that are driven by connection - in every sense of the word. It is through the computer world that Sam and Saie are able to find a deeper level of connection.

Zevin’s wordplay and her incredible knowledge of the gaming world set in motion a story like no other, sure to be one of the classics of 2022 with its twists and turns. Overall, this will be a winner for those who love some of those old games from Doom to Commander Keen, but also a touching and humorous look at some of the idiosyncrasies of life as a gamer, and relationships.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

Chatto & Windus


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