Monday, April 14, 2014
Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Author: Cristin Terrill
Release Date: September 2013 from Disney Hyperion
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Summary from Goodreads: What would you change?
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 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, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. 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. Em and Marina are in a race against time that only one of them can win.
All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.
I'm not the biggest fan of science fiction novels, maybe because science and I don't get along very well. I enjoyed Pivot Point by Kasia West because it didn't have a lot of scifi elements, not in spite of it, and I didn't love Across the Universe by Beth Revis, though many did. Something about All Our Yesterdays compelled me to read it anyway. Thanks to that, I have had a great science fiction experience that I hope can be replicated by other books like it.
All Our Yesterdays opens with Em, locked in a cell with only her friend Finn in the cell next door for company. Em is fixated on a drain in the floor, eventually stealing a plastic spoon to unscrew the grate and finding a note to herself inside...a note that she doesn't remember writing. The note consists of a list, with all of the items crossed off except one: "You have to kill him." From here, we get to know Marina, a normal high school girl with some insecurities, who just wants her best friend to be as in love with her as she is with him. We follow both girls throughout the story, until the climax brings them both together.
The plot in All Our Yesterdays is a bit of whirlwind, but it's not as confusing as you might think a time travel novel would be. Tirrell gives us information in small segments, always just enough for the reader to understand what's happening, but never enough to overwhelm. I enjoyed continuing to get the small pieces of information about how the time travel worked and what exactly happened between Marina's time and Em's time throughout the novel.
Duel narration is a personal favorite; I love getting two different consciousnesses in one book. The dual narration in All Our Yesterdays is a little bit different from the typical boy/girl type, but it's still fun to read. Tirrell definitely uses dual narration to build the suspense--just when you're getting into what Em is doing, she'll switch to Marina, and vice versa. It worked really well to keep the pace up, because though All Our Yesterdays is face-paced, it's not full of non-stop action.
The characterization in All Our Yesterdays wasn't the strongest, but I would have to spoil something to explain why in detail. Short version: there was some disconnect for me, concerning how the reader is supposed to view the characters and the way they act.
Finally, the romance between Finn and Em was minimal, but it was there and it felt like real love between two people, not like infatuation or the very beginnings of love. It made me care about the outcome of the story even more than I would have had there been no romance, because more was at stake. There is also romance between Marina and her best friend James, which was more of the traditional YA love story where the girl wonders "Does he or doesn't he?", but it ended up being more that meets the eye.
Overall, All Our Yesterdays was a very interesting take on time travel that had me flipping through the pages like nobody's business. It wanted to know the connection between Marina and Em, and I really wanted to know how things would turn out for them. It was full of twists and turns and I was very satisfied with the way it all turned out, though the ending was confusing. I think I might try to give some other sci-fi books a chance now that I've had so much success with this one.