Review: “All Our Yesterdays” by Cristin Terrill


All Our YesterdaysTitle: “All Our Yesterdays”

Author: Cristin Terrill

Genre: Time Travel, YA, Sci-fi, Thriller

Publication Date: September 3, 2013 (Disney-Hyperion – North America)

Source: NetGalley Review Copy

Synopsis: “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.

☆: 4/5 stars – a fast-paced thrill-ride that will kick your feels in their feels!

Review: I love the fact that the time-travel/multiverse genre finally, FINALLY has a firm foothold within YA lit as a whole. “All Our Yesterdays” is apart of that foothold, and while it had its flaws, I genuinely enjoyed it. Or, as the Doctor would say, it’s full of wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey fun. And murder. And torture. And love. Pretty much everything I want in a book. Terrill has created a fun, fast little book here, and I think a lot of those in YA craving more wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey books are going to enjoy it. If you’re looking for a quick, mindbending read, definitely check out “All Our Yesterdays”.

Originally, I was going to give this book 3.5/5 stars, but I decided to round up based on the sheer fun factor, even with the questionable issues concerning how Terrill represents the fourth dimension/time travel/multiverse scenario(s). This book is a lot of fun, and yes, can be incredibly predictable when it comes to some of the big reveals, but generally, for a debut, knocks it out of the park.

My biggest issue: the character development. Even though this book is only a little over 350 pages, Terrill really could have squeezed a little bit more character development (and character journey/transformational arcs) into her prose. What we get in this book is a very uneven mix between plot-driven and character-driven prose, which is always more than a little unsettling for me as a reader. I always want one or the other, or an even-ish mix of both from the author, and it felt like in the ARC copy I read, Terrill couldn’t quite decide which she wanted to drive the book more. While she does develop everyone (including their future selves, but I won’t say who those people are) adequately enough to keep the story going (and keep me turning the pages), she does stray a bit into Em’s views on Marina, and vice-versa, giving us just a bit of character development along with flashbacks and other bits of backstory we get a little late within the story (and that info could have been given earlier, imo, but you get the idea). I kind of wanted more of that throughout the book, evenly distributed, but with the amount of how much the plot drives the book, there just wasn’t room. So, I think you can see my issue with Terrill kind of changing her mind when it came to character development and the question of character vs plot-based for the prose of her book.

There is a question of insta-love with the romance between Finn and Em – though I won’t spoil (too) much, there are moments within Em’s flashbacks where Em seems to love Finn just because he’s simply there, and they’re both pretty traumatized and looking for comfort, and that felt far too simple for me. It didn’t really quite feel developed enough (much like most of the characterization throughout the book) to feel like a real romance, but when you do read the prison scenes, it does feel a bit more real, given what they’ve gone through and how long it’s been since they’ve seen each other prior to the events in the novel.

However, everything else was great. The plot and pacing were awesome (and the general commentary on time travel made me chuckle, since everyone’s been debating paradoxes and the like for ages in the community), the action scenes vivid, and generally kept me hungry for more until the very last page. I loved that little question given at the end – in each universe where our different selves do/say different things, do we remember those things our different selves did/said? It’s something I’ve always asked myself, and I love that Terrill broached it in this book. In fact, I’m not sure any other YA time travel book has talked about that idea about time travel so far. I also subscribe to the main theory of time travel in this book, and generally, the idea of it was well-explained (though it had some continuity gaps) but not too-dumbed down for the reader. Which is always a good thing.

In terms of showing versus telling, the one area where I wanted more showing was the dystopia police state created within the book. We get a quick summary by both Finn and Em at different times and through different flashbacks,  but I just wanted to see more of it in general. Otherwise? This is a very vivid, well-worded sensory book that you’ll definitely have fun with. I know I did.

Final verdict? While not perfect, this book was a blast, and it makes me want to read more of Terrill’s stuff. “All Our Yesterdays” is out now from Disney-Hyperion in North America, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance!

One thought on “Review: “All Our Yesterdays” by Cristin Terrill

  1. Pingback: Book Review: “All Our Yesterdays” | The Cheap Reader

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