It's difficult to talk about this story without giving away any of the big reveals, but I promise you that this review will be spoiler-free. But first, here's the synopsis from Goodreads:
"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.
All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.
Before I forget, YA Confidential is celebrating Cristin's book all week with a variety of related posts. You should definitely swing by and check it out (Today's post has a prequel webisode!) And as always, I'm going to regale you with what I loved about the book:
The thing about time travel in books and movies is that it often breaks down with a few simple explanations. Even those not overly science minded can point out the sometimes glaring, sometimes subtle flaws. The science behind time travel in All Our Yesterdays felt fairly convincing to me, which was actually a first for me. The explanation of how this came to be was both easy to wrap my mind around and felt plausible, even while I'm pretty certain it isn't. (Thank God for that. No really.) There is not so much time spent on the hows of it all that the reader gets lost or that the science begins to crumble to pieces, which is a definite plus.
With the time travel aspect and multiple timelines, this book had the potential of being very confusing. I'm happy to report that this is not the case here. Without going into borderline spoiler-y details, Terrill has come up with a way to keep these differing timelines straight that works rather well, in my opinion. And speaking of timelines, the world-building in both time periods--a dystopian leaning future and our world as we know it today--felt both convincing and easy to differentiate. Whether the world could change so much in a period of four years is perhaps questionable, but with the presence of a time machine and the absolute power that this inevitably brings, I suppose anything is really possible, you know? A seriously terrifying thought indeed.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
I'll admit, when we're first introduced to Marina she is not the most likeable of characters. In fact, there were echoes of Mean Girls here when we first glimpse Marina interacting with her friends. But this is perhaps one of the best aspects of the book: Marina's development from self-centred individual to one who is both empathetic and sympathetic in a way that doesn't feel forced. Of all the characters, and particularly as a love interest, I really liked Finn. James bothered me in a way that I can't quite put my finger on, but that I think was intentional. He's supposed to get under your skin, even while there are times you just want to hug him.
STORY AS A WHOLE
From start to finish, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There were enough questions answered to satisfy and yet enough left open to make me want to read the next book. It was fast-paced at times, but there were plenty of moments to catch your breath, to allow for development of both sets of characters, and to help us understand Em's and Finn's reasons for returning to the present.
In short, I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of this book. To celebrate the recent launch of All Our Yesterdays into the world, and to make it easier for one lucky individual to get his/her hands on it, I'm giving away a copy of this awesome book!