(All Our Yesterdays #1)
by Cristin Terrill
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
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 apart, 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 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.
(synopsis from Goodreads)
I think I've found a new book to add to my list of favourites! I knew when I read the synopsis for this one a couple of years ago that I really wanted to read the book. I'm so glad I finally got the chance, because it's just as good as I'd hoped it would be.
Please, dear author, I want some more...
Even though the plot of this story is built around time travel, it's really all about the characters. And I thought they were all pretty strong. There are basically two groups of characters here: one whose ages range from 16 to 18, the other whose ages range from 20 to 22 (which sort of makes it straddle the border of YA and NA, which is kind of neat). The contrast between teenage concerns and adult ones is highlighted, and I found it refreshing that it isn't necessarily the teenagers who are trying to save the world (even though I know that's standard for YA). I also thought the villain was done really well. Even at the climax, he doesn't stand around twirling his metaphorical mustache and explaining all his dastardly plans. He goes along with the action in the scene, not standing apart with a hackneyed monologue like so many villains do... and it was utterly realistic.
I also thought the romance, which is pretty prominent, was handled very well. There is a love triangle, but it wasn't there just for the sake of conflict. It seems completely organic, and totally believable. And though I was leaning in one direction for how I wanted it to turn out, I was still kind of gutted when things turned out the way I'd hoped. Now that's how you write a love triangle.
It's all a matter of taste...
I really didn't see many weaknesses in this book. It's tightly plotted and moves at a good pace, despite focusing on time travel (which can be confusing and require too much explanation if the author isn't careful -- see Timebound by Rysa Walker for an example of a time-travel novel that tries too hard to explain everything and gets bogged down by infodumps). For the purposes of this story, the author went with a more linear idea of time, wherein if you go back and kill your grandfather, you'd cease to exist. This requires some explanation to get around the paradoxes that would result, but the explanations fit into the story subtly enough that I could suspend disbelief and go with it.
Let's get technical...
The writing in this book is pretty good. It stays away from my pet peeve of said bookisms for the most part. The prose is easy to read and flows along nicely. My only complaint was the use of grammatically inappropriate words, and after seeing the long list of people who supposedly helped get this book to print, I'm wondering why none of the errors were caught. You don't "hone in on" something; you "home in on" it. You don't "envelope" someone in your arms; you "envelop" them. You don't "staunch" the flow of blood; you "stanch" it. To be fair, it's likely that none of these things would have been caught by a spell-checker... though a grammar-checker probably would have flagged them.
Aside from a couple of small technical issues, I really enjoyed this book. It's a strong addition to the time-travel genre. I can't wait to read more from this author, if this book is any indication of the amazing things we're going to see from her in the future.
Finn, in an ill-fitting tux, is waiting for us outside the hotel. He performs an elaborate bow as we climb out of the car. "My Lord Shaw! And Lady Marina of the House of Snobs!"
He reaches for my hand and actually kisses it, and I snatch it back before anyone can see. Why does he always have to try to make me feel stupid?
"Did you bathe in that cologne?" I ask. The cloud around him is thick enough to choke a cat. "You know, there's this thing called soap--"
"It's Eau de Homme," he says, straightening his bow tie. "You know you can't resist it."
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 ladybugs