Thursday, July 25, 2013

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Title: All Our Yesterdays
Author: Cristin Terrill
Series: All Our Yesterdays, book #1 of 2
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Source: ATW ARC Tours
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

"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.

Time travel novels are usually the bane of my existence.  I love the idea of time travel itself, but most novels tend to drop the ball when it comes to executing the concept.  The explanation for how it works, why it works, etc., becomes too convoluted and confusing, and little to no actual time travel actually happens.  At least, that's usually my experience.  There have been a few exceptions, but All Our Yesterdays surpassed them all.

I haven't stopped thinking about this book since I finished it on Saturday.  And I read the entirety of the novel in one sitting.  I had the house to myself and I took the opportunity to devour this book, and it was definitely time well-spent.  Also, it's a duology.  Yeah, those are kind of becoming a thing, and I'm not complaining.  It removes the whole issue of "middle book syndrome" and means you get the whole story in just two books.  Now, if only they could release the books a little closer together.  *sigh*

This story was very character-driven, and if you know my preferences at all, you know that's a biggie. Characters can make or break a story, but this is especially true where time travel books are concerned because they tend to focus a lot of time and energy on the time travel aspect itself, and the characters are never portrayed to their fullest, which results in me never getting attached to them.  And if I never develop a connection to the characters, if I don't care one iota what happens to them, you've lost me.  Luckily for this story, I cared an awful lot what happened to the characters, maybe too much...I went to sleep thinking about them and I woke up thinking about them, and days later, I'm still thinking about them.

I love how the relationship between the cellmates Em and Finn is portrayed and how it evolved, the fact that they didn't like each other all that much in the beginning, but they later became friends and close confidantes because of their situation.  On the other hand, we have Marina and James, who've been best friends and neighbors for years. These characters are all tied together, for better or worse, and somehow, the responsibility of saving the world from destruction, from chaos and war, has ended up in their hands. I really can't say too much about it for fear of giving everything away -- even though it's not like you won't figure it all out on your own pretty early on -- but suffice it to say, these characters felt so real, their relationships so plausible, and my empathy for them only increased as more and more of their story was divulged.

The book may have essentially been character-driven for me, but the plot was also very fast-paced and intense, with the present-day action spanning only three or four days.  There were lots of flashbacks to provide a background for Em and Finn, whose timeline is four years in the future from when we meet Marina and James, but that same technique wasn't really necessary to explain the circumstances for the latter pair. The story alternates between Em and Marina's perspectives, with one set of characters knowing full well the ramifications of time travel and the other set woefully ignorant.  The author really understood where she was taking this story from the beginning, the way she manipulates the events and characters...and even the reader a little bit.

The time travel concept in this novel isn't totally unprecedented.  There is a machine, aptly named Cassandra after the mythological soothsayer, and there are alternate timelines and paradoxical events.  But some aspects of it are unusual, at least to me.  For example, the idea that time is not linear, that it might be sentient and decide which events remain fixed and which events can be altered...those are not concepts I've seen in time travel before, at least not in YA versions.  And because of this, it actually made a lot more sense to me than how I've seen it explained before, maybe because it wasn't made out to be this ultra complex idea but rather a vague one.

The concept and explanation, the character development, even the romantic elements...this is what I was looking for in all of those other time travel novels.  Sacrifice is a major underlying theme in this book, and it made for an intensely emotional read, not to mention an absolutely engaging one.  All Our Yesterdays is an impressive debut, and I wholeheartedly pronounce that Cristin Terrill is an author to watch and this novel is a definite must-read!

Rating:   photo 5-1.png

About the author:

Cristin Terrill is a young adult author and aspiring grown-up. She grew up semi-nomadic and graduated from Vassar College with a degree in drama. After getting her masters in Shakespeare Studies from the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, she lived in London, Austin, Boston, and Washington, DC while working as a theatrical stage manager. Now she writes and leads creative writing workshops for DC-area kids and teens. All Our Yesterdays is her first novel.

Find Cristin:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr


  1. Jen, I'm so happy you loved it!! AOY was one of my favorites this year and really the best time travel book I've read. I loved every minute and am desperate for book 2. I have an interview with Cristin on my site that I'll link in case you want to read it:

    Cristin Terrill Interview

  2. Ooh, this sounds pretty good! I totally agree about time travel - although I love to read about, sometimes some authors put a little too much thought into it. If it's a long book or series, it's generally okay, but if it's shorter it's harder to pick up that much info in one go.
    I'll be keeping an eye out for this one!

  3. This review makes me super excited to start this book. Great review!

  4. This makes me so happy! It's coming up on my reading schedule soon but I may have to bump it up! I've been dying to read it (I love time travel)!

  5. I'm glad to hear that a time travel booked worked! I'm with you - I usually get frustrated trying to keep track of the convoluted plot. I also find that a lot of authors use this device to fit pieces together or rewrite a characters history or just poof! erase an event.

  6. AHHHHHH. I've heard such great things about this one. It seems like one of the more hyped Disney titles. I too am a bit iffy on time travel stories (and the promised love triangle), so it's great to know that the execution and explanation was well-done. Even in your explanation, not only the concept of *how* time travel works but also *how* the multiple story lines and relationships come together seem complicated, complex, riveting, and well-done. I'm all with you on the characters: make me care about them, and you've got me!

    Character-driven duology? Yes, please (though I don't envy the disturbed sleep & possibly thinking about them days later and knowing the sequel won't be out for a while). Ah!! I already was excited for this title, but I am now even more. I'm on the same ARC tour - just waiting for my turn *bites nails*.

  7. I agree that time travel can really be tough to pull off. Since you said you don't usually enjoy them it makes me really excited for this one. I prefer my YA with lots of focus on the characters, at the cast in this book sounds amazing, especially since there is so much development from all of them.

    Alise @ Readers in Wonderland

  8. I am so excited to read this now! I wasn't sure if it'd be as good as it sounded, but I'm glad it is. I also really like strong characters in books. Great review :)

  9. THIS SOUNDS AMAZING! Thanks for the great review because now I want to read it even more! I do love how you mentioned it was character-driven and that the relationship between the two were great. All of the elements sound perfect. Love!


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