Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release: September 3, 2013
Time travel. What a perfidious path to take a book. While it has the potential to build a thrilling story, movement between years, dimensions, or any place bound by space and time opens up opportunities for plot holes and an expanse of difficult-to-explain points. I always enter novels like these warily, ready to suspend my belief and contain my confusion for the sake of the story. Sometimes these lowered expectations prove necessary and create a buffer for ambiguous ideas and confusing theories. But on other occasions, the novel exceeds them by miles and proves that science fiction really can make sense."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.
All Our Yesterdays is one of the latter instances.
Cristin Terrill's debut soars through its descriptions of time travel, illustrating how a person's actions affect the future and inserting paradoxes with just the right amount of detail. All Our Yesterdays balances complex ideas with common language descriptions followed by a series of events that show readers what time is capable of, and by the end of the book, everyone will be content in his or her knowledge of its multiple realities. This is not to say readers will always be sure of what is happening in the plot; they will not. But each instance of confusion is intentional, either a concept to make them think or a vague storyline to make them need to know more.
Whereas a weaker time travel element would have been distracting, this story's smoothness allows readers to slip into both of its aforementioned angles: the nonstop action and the conceptual intellectualism. These two sides, while strong on their own, support each other to create a perfect blend of quietly thinking and madly flipping pages, a combination for which I am constantly searching.
The first thing that grabs readers is the conflict. All Our Yesterdays ensnares minds with its murderous moments, and its intense action makes it impossible for readers to turn away. Best of all of all, it accentuates the characters as their relationships and views of themselves are tried, intensified, and changed in the face of such high stakes. My need to know not only whether or not certain people emerged alive, but how they would grow different kept me attached to the story, my brain strung to it even when I was not reading.
Even more fascinating, though, is watching how the characters change the action. Readers get to see the way the way people from the present affect their former selves and vice versa. This not only forces consideration of the outcome of one's every choice, but it supports the concept of rime travel, further helping readers understand how it functions. My favorite aspect of this book was watching the stories of individual characters shift, and now that I have read it, I more frequently catch myself considering he implications of the things I say and do.
Equal parts gripping and thought-provoking, All Our Yesterdays is a book you will not want to put down once you enter its world, and even the most skeptical of science fiction readers will find themselves addicted to the plot and enthralled with the characters. Most of all, they will find this story carries the surprising ability to change them, and they will emerge with different ideas about the millions of paths that branch from each seemingly small decision. They may anguish over some of their selections or they may give thanks to each one for shaping the lives they have today.
Reading All Our Yesterdays will be one of the decisions they do not regret.