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Friday, January 3, 2014

"All Our Yesterdays" by Cristin Terrill (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

 Visit Cristin Terrill's Official Website Here

OVERVIEW: "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.

FORMAT: All Our Yesterdays is a YA novel. It has a very slight dystopian feel to it, but it is filled with time travel, adventure, and romance. It is the first book of a series and the first novel wraps up the storyline, but it leaves you wanting more.

All Our Yesterdays was published on September 3, 2013 by Disney Hyperion. It stands at 368 pages and is told in the style of a dual narrative between 'Em' and Marina.

ANALYSIS: On the surface, All Our Yesterdays appears to be just like any other YA dystopian novel but with a little time travel thrown into the mix. Readers have their strong 'hero', love triangle, and what appears to be the end of the world.

Sounds just like every other YA book out there, right? Well, not exactly. All Our Yesterdays is much, much more than just your standard run-of-the-mill dystopian novel. It is a captivating, riveting YA debut novel from an amazing writer.

All Our Yesterdays details a young woman on her quest to go back into time and prevent a potentially dangerous and life-altering machine from being built. The machine is built by someone she idolized, worshipped and loved making the task difficult. This may sound like just any time travel novel, but there is more.

The young woman has tried and failed 14 times to complete her task. This first novel details the latest attempt, while giving readers a detailed history on how this machine came to be and the sordid past of all characters involved.

There are a lot of things that make All Our Yesterdays unique. The biggest and most standout thing is the use of dual narratives. The entire story is told from the point of view of 'Em' and 'Marina'. Dual narratives are nothing new, but in this case the twist is that 'Em' is the present day version of 'Marina'.

This use of two narratives from the same people makes it extremely interesting. The two narratives are completely different – in that you can see just how far the character has grown and it really changes up the pace of the novel making it a page-turner.

The use of Em and Marina narratives was also a great way to move the story along. It didn't feel like readers were being 'bogged' down with facts and lengthy descriptions, but the Marina narrative provided just enough background to answer questions and really explain to readers what type of situation the characters were up against.

Another thing that really made All Our Yesterdays stand out from the hundreds of YA books published a year, is how well thought out the plot was. It is obvious from the first pages that Cristin Terrill has carefully thought out where she wants to take this book, what she wants to happen, and exactly what she wants to convey to readers in each and every installment.

All too often there is a feeling of 'flying by the seat of your pants' in YA fiction. This sometimes leads to great novels and sometimes leads to the feeling of 'well that was fast-paced, but where is this novel going'. All Our Yesterdays did not have that feeling. Things might have taken some time to come together, but once it 'clicked' the book really took off.

It should be noted that the book starts rather abruptly. There is no explanation of who Em is and there are times when there is a 'Cassandra' mentioned. Cassandra is the time machine and once it is clear who everyone is, the book is smooth sailing.

I know some people are reluctant to get involved with 'time travel' books because they fear it will get too confusing or things might get too technical. All Our Yesterdays does a wonderful job of explaining things. It doesn't 'dumb' down things, but I never got the impression that things were super technical.

Also, when Em and Marina do come into contact and share scenes things are explained and drawn out in a way that makes it non-confusing. Sometimes when the same character is confronting their past/future self it can get really confusing who is who. That did not happen.

Overall, I was really impressed with this debut novel. In fact, it doesn't even feel like a debut novel and it was probably one of my top reads from 2013 - if not the best read from 2013. The characters really jump out at you and connect, the plot is engaging, and the pace of the book is page-turning. I encourage anyone with any interest in dystopian novels, YA novels, time travel, or just looking for a wonderful read – to try this out. You won't be disappointed!


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