All Our Yesterdays
by Cristin Terrill
Original Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Obtained Via: Borrowed from the Library
Format Read In: Hardback
View at the Traffic light:
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.
I’d like a time machine just so I can read this book all over again for the first time. My love for time travel is what drew me to this book, but my interest in the characters is what really held my attention.
First, I LOVE the way the way All Our Yesterdays uses time travel. I wrote a post about different timeline theories, and All Our Yesterdays uses the alternative time lines theory. The way Terrill plays with time and uses it to both create and explain paradoxes fascinated me. The time travel system in this book is intricate and it makes my head hurt a little when I try to think about it too much, but I’m in love all the same. The Em and Finn who are trying to prevent the invention of a time machine are like shadows in a different timeline of the original Marina and Finn. They’re the same, but yet not at the same time. Em is a bit tougher and harder than Marina–she’s had to be. Seeing the two sets of the same two characters took me a bit to get used to, but once I settled in I was along for the ride.
The villain in this book, the doctor, is so intriguing. It’s pretty easy to spot who he is early on in the story, and even if the reader doesn’t figure it out before hand, it’s not that far in when his identity is revealed. That being said, his character arc was heartbreaking and part of me wanted to kill him and part of me wanted to root for him just because of some of the things that happened. The villain is completely terrifying in the end, though–he’ll stop at nothing to complete his task, and has abandoned all sense of decency long ago. It makes the second half of All Our Yesterdays quite a race.
So the time travel system and the villain are both awesome, but man, the characters, Finn and Em, are the real stars of this show. They’re both so beat by everything that’s happened to them but they’re still holding on despite that. The romance is sweet and subtle–definitely a small part of the book–and it works so well because it’s between two people who have no hope of going back to where they were before the story starts. They know this may very well be the end for them, but they’re willing to do it to save the rest of the world, because the alternative situation is not acceptable.
And oh man, that ending. It fit perfectly with the book. It made so much SENSE. But oh, it was a heart-breaker, that one. I’m pretty sure when I finished reading I walked around my apartment in a bit of a daze. It sort of just took the wind out from me. That being said, I’m a little worried about the fact this book has a sequel, but you know what? Terrill did an amazing job with All Our Yesterdays, so I’ll continue to be optimistic.
Final Impression: This is such a “STORMY!” book that I had SO much trouble writing the review. I felt like this book was written for me. It has everything I absolutely love and I was so captivated by the story and the characters. This is definitely a time travel book I’ll be reading again. 5/5 stars.