“Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow,” the title of Gabrielle Zevin’s newest novel comes from the famous soliloquy in Macbeth. The speech ends, “… It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Gabrielle Zevin is not an idiot and her latest work signifies her further growth as a novelist.
“Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” delves into the mercurial world of the video game industry. It is populated by brilliant young prodigies from Harvard and M.I.T. who partner together in creating complex programmed video worlds and characters in the hope of capturing the attention of gamer enthusiasts. From this conceit, Zevin deftly explores such diverse issues as gender inequality in educational STEM programs in the late 1990s, stereotyping by ethnicity, impact of video game violence, and abusive relationships. While this list seems dour, the author also presents a tale of love, compassion and, finally, hope.
Zevin’s portrayal of her characters is vivid and memorable. A long percolating love triangle is handled with depth and feeling. Sam and Sadie, the protagonists, meet as youngsters in a hospital waiting room where they spend time playing Mario. It is the beginning of an on-again, off-again relationship which drives the narrative. The diverse backgrounds of the youths are revealed as they connect, separate and reconnect several times during the next decade of their lives.
Fueled by their brilliance in computer programming and passion for story telling, they collaborate on the launch of a very successful video game. Success can come suddenly in the video game industry. Following up quickly to maintain momentum is paramount, as young, talented competitors are numerous. Sam and Sadie take on partners and move from Boston to Los Angeles to expand their new company.
A reader’s interest and knowledge of video games may enhance their enjoyment of “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow,” but it is not necessary to appreciate Zevin’s skill as a storyteller. It is the interplay between characters, the tension of a love triangle and the rapaciousness of the business world which carry the plot.
At its most basic, a computer program is a series of if/then decisions. Life, however, is less controllable. Real life decisions do not always lead to desired results. Things get messy for Sam and Sadie. Then again, computer programs sometimes crash as well.
“Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” is Zevin’s fifth novel for adults and it won the 2022 Goodreads Choice Awards. She has also penned five novels for young readers and written four screen plays. She is a talented, versatile writer.
There are a few instances where Zevin’s shifting between past and present or sliding from the real world to a gaming world causes confusion. The transitions are not always perfectly executed. At one point, after a lengthy scene, she awkwardly uses the phrase, “But, back to the night Dov first played Ichigo.”
Such small blemishes do little to lessen the enjoyment of “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow.” It contains enough loves lost, plots twisted, identities confused and plans afoot to satisfy even the Bard.
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