Probably unpopular, or at least in the minority, review ahead; I did not especially enjoy Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. The narrative style made it a little hard to tell the difference between Said and Sam’s perspectives, and given that the novel switches back and forth, giving them more distinctive voices would have been nice. They also have really similar personalities in a lot of ways; both have traumas in their pasts which the other sort of knows about but doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge, and this causes the main conflicts in the story, as the childhood friends, later college colleagues and business partners stop speaking for years at a time. The video game premise that connects the two is interesting, and even if the premise is a little predictable, genius partners create amazing product, struggles ensue….
There’s also some unevenness in the personal backgrounds that makes Sam more sympathetic than Sadie in some ways. Sam spends a good chunk of his kid time in the hospital after his foot is crushed in an accident, and Sadie spends a lot of time there as well because her older sister has cancer. We learn a lot more about Sam’s family history than Sadie’s, here and throughout and it gives Sam an advantage in terms of understanding him and his motives. Sadie by contrast comes off as almost unreasonable when she gets mad at Sam for putting her at risk with a former teacher of hers, except that she never told Sam about the problems and it makes her seem somewhat unreasonable in that conflict and several of the others that follow. The teacher in question, Dov, is the worst version of the hot young professor stereotype because he gets away with virtually everything, and the story doesn’t seem to have much of a problem with him, and it’s just gross.
Really the one character I did kind of like was Marx, Sam’s best friend who becomes a part of Sadie’s life as well; he’s the normal one of the group and goes into business along with them. He’s the reasonable one who tells both Sam and Sadie to talk to each other when they stop, and they obviously refuse because otherwise there’s no drama. What happens with him is also aggravating because it feels a little like a rip-off of something from Ready Player One, and without that voice of reason, Sam and Sadie can’t re-connect except through gaming in way that reminded of this one short story (I think; it may also have been a short one act) I had to read in high school about two brilliant theatre actors who were so bad at being normal people they could only talk to each other as characters; I don’t remember the name of the story, but it’s something probably fairly canonical; I do remember hating it because the characters could have saved everyone a lot of time and energy if they had a simple two minutes direct conversation.
Last but not least, actually kind of the worst part, are the significant chunks of the second half of the novel that take place in game world; I get the metaphor of ‘the game of life’, ‘all the world’s a stage…’, but this takes it too far. The metaphor only works if you really care about the characters, and by this point, I’d stopped. The second more extended episode of this makes less sense for a while until you figure out who is who and what’s going on, and again by the time that might of mattered, I’d lost interest and was just skimming to find a place to pick up again. The communications that turn out to be something more interesting trick works a lot better in The Storied Life of AJ Fikry than here.