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Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Our score for this book is currently sitting at 7.9/10 (one more score to come in still) – pretty strong when you consider that when we were choosing it was not top choice for everyone. A book about a friendship sparked by a love of gaming might not be the obvious choice for those of us who don’t know one end of a console or controller from another, but, as one wise BookBubblee said “that’s the beauty of book clubs – you read things you would otherwise not have picked up. This was my bottom choice from our shortlist but I loved it.”

Sam and Sadie are reconnected by accident when their paths cross at a train station. As children they spent hours together gaming – a passion they still share, and which proves to be the  spark which sets them on a path of a lifetime of collaboration and friendship. A relationship shaped by unimaginable success and fame, creative differences, highs and lows, professional rivalry, jealousy, betrayal and tragedy. 

This is essentially a book about friendship, love, working relationships and our need for human connections. And how a shared passion, cemented by ferociously high standards and an intense desire to translate a vision into reality can result in a depth of understanding of each other. How sometimes even the closest of friendships can be brittle and imperfect and need another player to intervene. Sadie and Sam have so much in common, yet are different in many ways, and they both need Marx to hold their friendship together, his skill being an intuitive understanding of what they need from him and each other. There is truth in the depiction of lifelong friendships that can be derailed by misinterpretation, lack of generosity of spirit and stubbornness. Much like the games they design, they have, and take, opportunities to restart and reboot their relationship and to reset the parameters. Even when they don’t have the words to actually talk to each other, or visibly demonstrate compassion, they find ways to take action to take care of the other. In many ways they behave like siblings. Marx is a great friend to both and brings an extra dimension to the story – a realistic detail as friendships and relationships don’t exist in isolation from the rest of the world.

There is an easy richness and fluidity of detail in the language and the narrative that carries the reader along whether describing game design, pivotal moments in their professional or working lives or external events which influence their partnership. And, it’s a fascinating insight into the world of game design, the inspirations that are drawn upon, the experiences designers want users to have, the psychology and strategies involved in gameplay. And it’s the story of a start-up, the late nights, shared sense of purpose and community, the highs and lows of running your own business, the risks, the failures, the long hours, the money worries and all of the resulting tensions. 

Sadie, Sam, Marx and the other characters are beautifully drawn. Each of them have their flaws, and small details about them are drip fed through the book so you feel like you are continuing to get to know them throughout the book at the same time as others are discovering new things about them.

It’s original, beautifully written and an effortless and compelling narrative. Our one quibble being The Pioneers section, which felt more of a standalone chapter being different in style and less of a smooth read. I should say that even though this wasn’t a favourite for everyone in the group it was a book that we all wanted to finish and enjoyed to varying degree. Personally I loved it.

Overall Score: 7.9

Range: 6 – 9

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