All Our Yesterdays
Genre: Sci-Fi, YA
Publication date: September 3rd 2013
by Disney Hyperion
"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.
-A copy was provided by Disney Book Group for review-
There’s been a slew of time travel books lately and All Our Yesterdays is another one that I can add on the short list of those that impressed me. The time travel concept introduced, while hard to grasp like any and all time travel science, explains how paradoxes fixes itself in a manner that’s utterly fascinating, while giving us a plot that is both thought-provoking and exciting.
All Our Yesterdays has a past/present setting that involves a unique double characterization; even though our main character is a singular person, both her younger and older self form the dual POV of this novel which I found especially interesting. Marina can be hard on herself; even though she admits to turning heads, she doesn’t think she’s pretty or anything special. I didn’t connect to Marina right away because this attitude kept me at arm’s length, but her caring heart does grow on you. Em is more my kind of gal with her strong will and tough attitude. She is just as caring, if not more, and having learned to love herself makes her personality more attractive. Because of this hardened shell, both narratives are considerably different, though with a likeness at their core. Each perspective introduces a set of secondary characters with which the protagonist has a peculiar bond. It was striking to see the changes in their relationships as the story progressed. Finn became my favorite side character, but James’s exceptional intelligence and obvious instability had me compelled. With a dual narrative consisting of past and present characters, it allowed for twists to be dropped at regular intervals which unveiled the mysteries of what happened in the future that changed everything to such a degree. These almost always caught me off guard and often shone a new light on certain characters.
Romantically, this novel contains a unique spin. I can’t divulge very much, but we see how one love crumbles and how one flourishes. It’s kind of bittersweet at times, but I loved how it turned out in the end. Even though its presence is constant, and its role integral to the story, the romance never overpowers the plot; it’s fused into its roots. The book as a whole is well paced with the right amount of suspense and tension. The described political controls of the future are realistic under the circumstances, raising moral questions while at it. Once or twice, to make the plot move forward the author uses opportune happenings that required a little forgiveness on my part. As an example, after Marina gets nothing but a few alphabetical letters from Nate, she has it all figured out and everyone’s quick to agree to a goose chase based on this vague thread of information. However, these instances are insignificant in the grand scheme of things and I still consider the plot to be solid. As for the ending, I had to re-read it and think for a bit for it to make sense. I may not even be correct in my interpretation, either way it makes for a good time travel paradox discussion.
With flawless writing and an unwavering pace, Cristin has weaved time-travel, romance, political intrigue, and mystery into this page-turner of a novel!