Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review: All Our Yesterdays, by Cristin Terrill (5 stars)

by Cristin Terrill
Publication: September 3, 2013
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

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 and each other, and only one of them can win.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

When the story opens, we find the main character, Em, held captive in a cell, staring at a drain. This may sound dull, but I found the tension to be wonderfully done. As captive, held in a dark room, Em found something to obsess about. It was dark and psychological, and I was immediately hooked. Then she finds a message that a prior version of herself left for her, saying she has to kill him.

Em goes back in time to do as the note says. I figured out pretty much right away who Em goes back in time to kill, but that's fine. I don't think it was meant to be a big secret. I was still invested in the story and in watching it unravel.

You won't find any Mary Sues here. Em was conflicted every step of the way. She was a good person, on a mission to do a bad thing. I found her struggle with her task to be both believable and compelling.

This book had just the right amount of romance—enough that I could latch onto it and root for it, but not so much that I got frustrated with the emphasis on romance as opposed to important, world-saving tasks. I found Em's love interest, Finn, to be likable in both his past and future selves. He was loyal and considerate, but tough enough to give Em a kick in the pants when she needed it.

I will admit though: On a couple occasions, I referred to Finn in my head as "cool Peeta." He has some similarities to Peeta from The Hunger Games, but I liked Finn better. Finn and Peeta are both blond, and both play sidekick to their love interests. But Finn was plenty kick-ass on his own, hence the "cool" label even though I found myself comparing him to a character in a different book.

I think it's a given with a serious time travel story that there will be paradoxes. All Our Yesterdays does a solid job of laying the groundwork with respect to how paradoxes are handled. And this groundwork starts early in the story, which adds some credibility to the resolution of paradoxes after the book's conclusion. I appreciate that.

An excellent book. One of my favorite reads of 2013! I'll be looking for more work by Cristin Terrill.

My thanks to Disney Hyperion for the free review copy.

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