Written by: Cristin Terrill
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Release date: September 3rd 2013
Genres: Romance, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Young Adult
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: Goodreads
"You have to kill him."
Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.
Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.
Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.
All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.
Hi guys! I know it’s been quite a while since my last review here – I’m sorry I went kind of MIA on you all. =S If you’re curious about my absence, you can read my full post here. But the short version is, I had to unexpectedly quit blogging cold-turkey for a while due to… well, life. ;) And then I realized I was kind of burnt out and really needed a break. It turned into a longer break than I expected, but now I’m back and ready to jump back into doing what I love best – reading and talking about books. ;D So without further ado…
All Our Yesterdays is a book I’d been looking forward to for a LONG time. I remember seeing the original cover, which was kind of ‘meh’ for me… but after reading the blurb, I immediately knew this was a book I needed to check out. And once the new cover was revealed – the one currently on this post – BAM – I knew I had to have this book.
In case you didn’t know already: I am a sucker for time travel, a little romance, and most of all, awesome characters – and All Our Yesterdays delivered on all counts. The pacing was excellent and the plot was absolutely riveting. I couldn’t put it down.
The first thing I want to talk about is the narrative perspectives in this book, which were really cool. It switches back and forth between present-day Marina, and “Em” who is from four years in the future. Though the two narratives begin in different timelines (Marina in the present, and Em in the future), Em ends up traveling back to the same timeline we’ve been following with Marina. So the narration, even though it’s from (technically) the same character in the same timeline, really acts to differentiate the Marina from the past and the “Em” from the future – who is risking her life trying to save Marina’s (her own past’s) timeline, so she doesn’t have to endure the things Em had to go through.
At first, I didn’t like Marina’s sections that much – they read more as a contemporary, where the girl has very little self-confidence and is just waiting for the boy she likes to notice her. But that only lasts for a little while until Something Happens which throws her timeline into intense-thriller mode. I actually really loved that Marina starts out the way she does, because it offers her so much room for growth, and she finally gets a chance to shine and show the beginnings of the girl who ends up becoming Em.
Also, I found it incredibly unique and, thus, really moving, that Em was risking her life for the more innocent and not-yet-hardened version of herself. In a lot of ways, Marina could be considered the “weaker” individual, but the fact that Em values her so much and wants to protect her is just incredibly telling, I think. This is actually her main motivation when when goes back in time – of course she wants to stop the time machine from being created, because it totally screws up the world, but you can tell by how much time she spends thinking about saving her past self, that she is fighting to keep her alive more than anything else. I really liked that.
I’ve already touched a little bit on the time travel aspect – really, that was the thing I was most anticipating (and at the same time, dreading). Time travel can be easily messed up, and it annoys me a LOT when it isn’t dealt with “realistically” – meaning, when it’s all hand-wavy instead of actually offering coherent explanations of the paradoxical theories involved. Such as: If events got so bad that you go back in time to fix them, wouldn’t you never make it to the point where you need to travel back in time in the first place? This is especially true of the paradox we’re presented with in All Our Yesterdays – time travel in order to prevent time travel? (Ow, my head.)
Much to my delight, all of this was dealt with exceedingly well in All Our Yesterdays. The science of the actual “time-machine” (more like a big explosion that rips the fabric of space/time) is only touched on in the barest of ways, near the beginning of the book – which is totally fine within the context of the story. But there’s a lot of discussion of how changing the past would actually work. Terrill did an awesome job at explaining things like my hypothetical question above, and never once bogged the story down with miles of pseudo-sciency-sounding explanation. It was all clear and made total sense for the story. My little time-travel-geek self was in timey-wimey heaven. *_*
Other than Em and Marina, who are really the main focus of this book, I also have to say that I really loved her relationships with the two other main characters, Finn and James, as well. Em and Finn were perfect together in Em’s timeline/perspective. (There were lots of feels.) But I also really liked seeing them go from dislike, to tolerance, to friendship… in Marina’s own timeline, too. James was another super interesting character, and I ended up liking him a lot more than I thought I would – I was predisposed to like Finn just because he and Em are so awesome together, but James as a character was just really intriguing.
Oh also, the bad guy, who we only know as “the doctor” in the beginning… Such an awesome villain. O_O When you meet him in Em’s timeline in the beginning, he seems kind of like a stereotypical evil bad guy – but then as you learn more about him… ugh. I can’t give anything away, but his motivations and back-story are just so well-done.
I can’t recommend this book enough, both to people who already love sci-fi and time travel, and to those people who prefer character-driven stories as opposed to thrillers. All Our Yesterdays is a perfect balance between the two – neither character development nor excitement are ever sacrificed in favor of the other, and the twisty plot only serves to enhance the development of every main character in the book. Seriously, if you haven’t read it yet (WHY??), give it a chance. It does not disappoint.