Release Date: September, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
"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. (courtesy of Goodreads.)
Wow. There are few books that manage to successfully tug at all your emotions - happiness, sadness, anger, affection, grief - and also engage your brain in such a way that you feel smarter after having read it. All Our Yesterdays is one of those books.
The book is told from the alternating perspectives of two girls - Em and Marina. They are in two different time streams. Em is four years ahead of Marina. Their worlds slowly collide when Em goes back in time to stop events that Marina could never imagine.
Em is the girl I immediately sympathized with. She has been tortured, watched her best friend Finn be tortured, she is hardened and desperate. She doesn't always make perfect decisions, but she's making them for what she believes to be right. Marina on the other hand is snooty, flighty, and selfish. She is easy to hate. But as the book goes on, she seems more pitiable than anything else - innocent, starry-eyed, ignored by her parents. I loved having both their perspectives to learn from; plus it was necessary for the plot.
This is not a book that uses time travel as a trope but only lightly glosses over it. Time travel is at the heart of this novel. It is complicated with numerous discussions of paradoxes, personal time lines, etc. A year ago the heavy time travel aspect may have scared me off. But since I've become a die-hard Doctor Who fan, I understood a lot of the theory. I wonder if Cristin Terrill is also a Doctor Who fan. The main villain is called "the doctor" (although the TV Doctor is a hero) and the time travel project is even called Cassandra (the name of a memorable character in Series 1 and 2 of New Who). I'm not suggesting that the ideas are copied from Doctor Who. Apart from a few similar names and the basic time concept, this book has nothing in common with the show.
Please don't avoid this book if science fiction or time travel is something you don't normally read. The time travel concept is quite logical. And even if you don't want to spend time wrapping your head around it, you can still love the book for the strong character drama and plot full of dangerous action.
Love is a central theme in this book. Love of family. Love of intelligence. Childhood crushes. The "love" I most enjoyed was the strong relationship between two characters who'd done so much together and were willing to die for each other. It felt more important than the typical love-dovey kissy-kissy teen romances you usually read.
The book flows very quickly once you get comfortable in the sci fi world. Em is tasked with killing someone. We don't know exactly who, but it becomes clear pretty quickly. It feels like no one is safe. From the evil doctor or perhaps from Em. I loved how many twists and turns it took.
All Our Yesterdays is different from most books you read. It takes chances and succeeds. It give you three dimensional heroes and villains. Good people doing hard things and bad people whose choices kinda make sense even though they're horrible. I really can't recommend this book enough.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Here's How to Buy the Book!