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All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill (4 stars)

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All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill is a kind of reverse Terminator sci-fi story and breath of fresh air in overly romance saturated YA. It features reasonable protagonists with big problems and no easy solutions. I liked the time travel and the characters, and, despite a few issues, I really really enjoyed this book.

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Series: All Our Yesterdays #1
Genres: YA, Sci-fi
Published on September 3, 2013
Published by Disney Hyperion
Final Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis:
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.


Review:
What I liked:
  • The first person, present tense point-of-view actually worked well for me. And, though I had a preference, I liked both perspectives well enough.
  • Em, Finn and the doctor from the future. I liked Em and Finn as characters from the start. I loved that Finn was always pulling a smile or smirk. I loved Em's determination and practicality and her sense of responsibility. I loved the contrast presented with the past, how you could see little elements that could turn them into who they are in the future. It made them feel less like terminators out of a far off future and more connected to the world at hand.
  • The approach to time. I'm usually happy as long as you pick either a "time is a line" or "time is a lake" approach and stick to it. This story used the latter with a few twists. I really liked the idea that time had a sentient aspect that kept it from ripping apart. The idea that an intelligent hand was smoothing out the wrinkles also made the ending more believable for me. (She says about time travel.)
  • Oddly enough, the "love triangle." Gasp! Yes, I just said that. However, it isn't necessarily a romantic love triangle and, more importantly, these feelings take backseat to important things like time travel and being shot at. Everyone, including the girl in the "middle" is firmly decided on his/her romantic interest. There is no wavering. It's never about who will choose to go steady with whom. It's more (minor SPOILER, highlight to read), I still care about him too much to shoot him. (To which I say: either suck it up or give Finn the gun.)

What I didn't like:
  • The school/teenage society Marina lives in. She seems to be in a place where it's expected that you be stick-skinny and flawless and everyone above puberty should be hooking up with someone all the time (regardless of whether you're ready/want to/etc.), and my heart really went out to her.
  • How do people who travel to the past get back to the future? I understand Em and Finn plan not to exist, but what about the doctor? Does he just mosey on through for the next four years? What about the plants? Do they disappear in the present because the future has changed, but because the future has changed their future selves are alive and well and not going to the past? Bluh. Paradoxes. I liked the handling of the time theory, or the mystery of it, for everything except this.


Final Thoughts:
A good balance of action and character development, a fun take on time travel, characters who are neither fully good nor bad, and a good romance that didn't overwhelm the important stuff. Definitely recommended.

Not sure how I feel about there being a sequel. I thought this one ended in a good, open-ended-but-final way, and I was reading it as a standalone. I'll probably pick up the sequel, but I'm wary. It'll either be awesome or it will fail stupendously.

4 comments :

  1. This is going on my priority list. It sounds awesome.

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    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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  2. Aww, excellent. I really loved this book as well. I admit, there were a few things that bothered me as well (especially about the point you made with the doctor). I didn't know there would be a sequel when I read this book, so I was very disappointed with the ending at the time. I think the sequel will be a good way of clearing up many questions, so I can't wait to read it. If you read it, Kel, I hope it doesn't disappoint you!

    Fantastic review!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

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    1. I really do want to know about the return trips, but at the same time, I was happy with the ending as it stood. Here's hoping the sequel succeeds in answering all our questions and not messing things up! :)

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