Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review: Yesterday by CK Kelly Martin

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CK Kelly Martin
Publication date: September 25th 2012
by Random House


THEN: The formation of the UNA, the high threat of eco-terrorism, the mammoth rates of unemployment and subsequent escape into a world of virtual reality are things any student can read about in their 21st century textbooks and part of the normal background noise to Freya Kallas’s life. Until that world starts to crumble.

NOW: It’s 1985. Freya Kallas has just moved across the world and into a new life. On the outside, she fits in at her new high school, but Freya feels nothing but removed. Her mother blames it on the grief over her father’s death, but how does that explain the headaches and why do her memories feel so foggy? When Freya lays eyes on Garren Lowe, she can’t get him out of her head. She’s sure that she knows him, despite his insistence that they’ve never met. As Freya follows her instincts and pushes towards hidden truths, the two of them unveil a strange and dangerous world where their days may be numbered. Unsure who to trust, Freya and Garren go on the run from powerful forces determined to tear them apart and keep them from discovering the truth about their shared pasts (and futures), her visions, and the time and place they really came from.

*A copy was provided by Random House Canada for review purposes*

Set in Ontario, Canada, it was fun to read a book with its setting only hours away. They exist but I rarely have stumbled upon a book set in Canada (hence my love for Kelley Armstrong novels). It gave me a delightful reading experience, which made up for some of the qualms I had about the disjointed storylines in this novel.

Yesterday begins with a very enticing prologue. We get thrown into a confusing, but thrilling scene where we originally meet Freya, while raising a lot of questions, it sets an excellent mysterious tone for the rest of the book. Once the true story starts, we’re in 1985, where Freya is a regular teenage girl, except now she feels like her memories are hazy. Something’s going on, and it’s very hard to put a finger on what.

It’s 1985! Being an 80’s baby, it was entertaining to get a setting that I was raised in. The style, the non-technological lifestyle, it was nostalgic to a simpler time, and quite original for a post apocalyptic novel to actually happen in the past. Yes! A post-apocalyptic, with time travel! This premise, definitely very original, is filled with mystery and action that easily keeps you turning the pages frantically to find out what’s happening, how they ended up in 1985, and how they’re going to survive. Because of the prologue, we know something big happened to Freya before she got to the past, and it’s agonizing, maybe even a little frightening, to not know what the heck is happening. Finally, when we do get some answers, it can be a bit overwhelming. All of a sudden we turn the page to find ourselves into an immense info-dump where all of the future world building gets thrown at us inside the span of a few pages. It’s still interesting, highly detailed, but it being such a sudden load of information, you barely have time to make any sense of it. Furthermore, the future world we learn about is extremely different with incredible scientific advancement. What’s hard to believe is that it is said to be only 40 years in the future. I may be proven wrong and in 40 years we’ll all be able to regrow limbs and only have sex in a virtual reality, but I found a lot of it inconceivable, and, thus, less compelling. I’m fine with unlikely, I’m fine with fantasy even, this is, after all, a fiction novel; however, it’s the author’s job to suspend my disbelief effectively, and in this case it was not. Once we get the low down on everything that has occurred, it basically becomes a high speed chase. Very action-packed and filled with tension; constantly on the run with Freya while still mind blown over what we learned about her past (or future..?).

When I learned it had strong time travel elements I was a little concerned. As time travel can be very tricky, I’m not easily persuaded by it. I think if you look at it in an entertaining point of view, it clearly fits the bill with twists that are equally surprising and intriguing. But when you put any thought into it, it’s a different story. I was not very satisfied with the way the time travel aspect was set up. Hypothetically, If you change the past, you won’t get to be in the same future that made it possible for you go back to change the past in the first place. Did I lose you? This is called the grandfather paradox, and it’s a recurring problem I had more than once in this plot. Time travel is not an easy venture; you have to really work it well (Ie. Dr Who, Back to the Future, Butterfly Effect). This one unfortunately left me feeling underwhelmed with the lack of any forethought on its implementation. Yes, I am picky when it comes to time travel. It is what it is.

With its peculiarity of juggling several genres and several major plot elements, you get a very original book, sure, but I’m not completely convinced it all fits together, and if it does, it isn’t seamless. It’s even hard to decipher what the book wants to be at times. A dystopian? A time travel romance? A contemp with some sci-ci elements? It has a LOT going on which, again, is great for an action book and clearly kept my interest throughout, yet I can’t help but feel it was a big mess.

The romance is also an aspect I’m not sure how I feel about. They do have chemistry and make a great team as main characters, but I couldn’t help but feel a lot of awkwardness coming from them. As if they’re constantly walking on eggshells. Some of it does have to do with the circumstances of their lives I’m sure, not to mention the high speed world building that didn’t show the reasoning for her infatuation with him to begin with. At least the relationship grows slow and steadily, making it feel more genuine. There are a couple of scenes that are very mature for YA as well – just a heads up.

As you can see, I have very mixed feelings about this one. On one hand I really enjoyed the overall effect of a fast paced, exciting book with great twists, but on the other hand I’m not sure if I will really remember any of it for very long. It’s like cramming for a test, you may ace it, but retake the test in 2 days and you will most likely fail miserably. Where am I going with this? I have no idea. My mind is as jumbled as this book.

3 Hot Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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33 Responses to “Review: Yesterday by CK Kelly Martin”

  1. Christina

    Unless you being in the past CREATES the future. Time travel is complex. I didn’t super love her solution either. Oh well. I am pretty notoriously hard to please with time travel.

    Also, definitely agree on the infodumps. That chapter where she goes to that guy to help her recover her memories and he asks her ONE question and she suddenly remembers EVERY LITTLE DETAIL of the future’s history and tells you? RIDIC.

    But I enjoyed the rest of the things so much I still gave it a 4. :-p

  2. Sam

    Ahh time travel! I’m quite fussy with this aspect too, but it has to be done right for it to impress. The reviews for this book have been very mixed, maybe too much so for me to really feel the urge to try it myself. Lovely review, Giselle! 🙂

  3. Jenea Whittington

    I enjoy time travel books, but this seems to be getting a few mixed reviews. It sounds like it has potential, but I think I will wait and see if my library will carry it. Great review. 🙂

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  4. Danny

    Argh!!!! I don’t like when there is no chemistry in the romance. I always need a good romance;( But, I kind of like the blend of genres and even the fact that you cannot exactly tell where this story belongs!

  5. Kristin @ My ParaHangover

    AHHH, my senile little brain hurts just thinking about this one. I was reading Kimba’s review and between the both of them – ouch, I’m jumbled and pureed, too! The info dump scares me off a little.

    I like the 3 cup rating b/c it says you liked it, it might not have been your thing. I’d read it if it floated my way, I’m just not in a hurry. I need all the brain cells I have (I’m making age jokes b/c I’m feeling so old ever since you said you were an 80’s baby) *sigh*

  6. Kristilyn (Reading In Winter)

    Aww … that’s too bad you have mixed feelings about this book! I’ve been eyeing it, mainly because it’s set in Canada. Like you, I love finding books that are a little closer to me. BUT I also don’t like to be confused while reading AND I like a book that’ll stay with me.

    Great review, Giselle!

  7. Giselle

    @Danny: Actually I think you read it wrong. I said they do have chemistry, but it’s still like an awkward feeling relationship that they have. I can’t say much without spoilers so it’s just a very bizarre situation at first so dunno, I felt they were an odd pair. They felt more like siblings. It wasn’t a big aspect of the book, too (the romance). I think you would like it even if you may not love it.

    @Christina: See that may work, creating the future, but it made no sense in this instance unless she brings in other dimensions. There was really NO theories or explanations on it at all. I’m the same with time travel as you. I very rarely see it well done.

    Thanks so much for dropping by, ladies! <3

  8. Candace

    I don’t know how I hadn’t heard of this one yet… it sounds freaking awesome! But your negatives mentioned dampered my excitement. Info dumps aren’t so great and not being able to really believe the stuff, that’s not so great. But I’m still really curious about this so I’m gonna go check out a few more reviews. Thanks for the in depth review that gave me a better idea of what to expect!

  9. Book Sp(l)ot

    Either time travel is about to be bigger in MG/YA or I’m just hitting on the time travel reviews/mentions today! I do agree, though, that if it’s not done well (agrees on DW), it falls apart.

    I’ll have to think about this one.

    Thanks for such a well done review.

  10. Camille Picott

    Sounds like one of those books where you just have to put your brain on neutral and enjoy the ride for what it is. 🙂 There are definitely days when I need a book like this! Nice review!

  11. Amy

    I have this one to read. I am a bit nervous now about the super info dump. I do really love a good fast paced book. I love it when a book is set in a place I am familiar with. It makes it more enjoyable knowing the places and things that are in the book. Great review. I hope that I like this book.

  12. Cassy Wrage

    I’ve been looking forward to reading this book, but have seen so many mixed reviews that I’m not sure how much I’d enjoy it, especially since I’m nit picky with time travel also. hmm.. may read it, may not. Thanks for the review!

  13. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I have a hard time with time travel…like you said, it’s a difficult thing to get right. The romance sounds like maybe it should have been ditched (or ramped up!). I was really hoping to get a “love” out of this one

  14. Aylee

    A time travelling post-apocalyptic novel?! Okay, that’s cool. I’m racking my brain, trying to figure out if I’ve ever read a book that was set in the 80s and I’m coming up blank. So that definitely intrigues me (as well as the Canadian setting, obvs). So it’s unfortunate that you had a lot of pretty serious problems with it, as well. Out of all its faults, the time travel problem would probably bother me the most, for sure. Aw, oh well. Thanks for the review anyway, Giselle!

  15. Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue

    This one seems kinda interesting. I’m like you, Giselle – I want my time travel to be done RIGHT. I’m a HUGE Doctor Who geek, so I’m picky, too. It seems like this one has some high points and some flaws. I know sometimes an info-dump feels to an author like the right choice, but it just isn’t. 🙁

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  16. Chel

    Giselle, I totally get where you’re coming from. We, readers, love fiction because it can bend reality but we also like it to be as realistic as possible. So sorry this didn’t work out for you that much. Heck, the way you described the story, I don’t think this would work out for me either. But anyhow, thanks for the honest review!

  17. Smash Attack!

    I love the idea of post-ap in the past, but time travel can be so hit or miss for me. It sounds like it didn’t quite hit the mark for you. The idea sounds really awesome though, and I do love me some 80s!

    P.S. If you haven’t read the Dark Inside series, they take place (later on) in Canada. 🙂

  18. Ems

    The thing that sounds the most interesting to me is the 80s element. I most definitely remember the 80s, so I’d want to see if the author got it right. The elements you mentioned you had mixed feelings about, however, would probably majorly detract from the story for me. It drives me crazy when a book can’t decide what it is. I’ll probably skip it.

    Great review!

  19. Alexa

    I like that parts of it are set in the 80s, though I’d definitely have the same problem with the grandfather paradox. To me, just changing one tiny thing can set off a whole bunch of other changes – and leave you with a different future.

  20. Jenn@OwlReadIt

    I’m actually quite interested in this book, it might be going on the back burner for now though. Suddenly I’m not as excited for it as I was. But I will read it nonetheless. How can I pass up a book based in Canada?

    Great review!

  21. russell1200

    Possibly you have mentioned it. But Scott Fotheringham’s The Rest is Silence is near future Apocalypse in Progress partially set in Nova Scotia. I had to go through to get it.

    Megan Crewe’s The Way We Fall (I have not read yet) maybe is set in Canada as she lives in Toronto.

  22. BecAlora Walker

    I really like the concept you’re presenting of this book even if it is coming off as one BIG clusterfrak. Great review and great blog. You are, as always, nigh on amazing 🙂