Title: All Our Yesterdays
Author: Cristin Terrill
Publication date: September 3, 2013
"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.
First line: I stare at the drain in the center of the concrete floor.
I think Cristin Terrill smirked for days after finishing this book (well, after she collapsed from relief and exhaustion as well) and maniacally laughed as she saw readers' and bloggers' responses to All Our Yesterdays. I really do. Because here's the thing about this work of art: it grabs your eyeballs, dictates your sleep, grips your heart, spins you around, and then lets you deal with the aftermath. I felt Terrill's smirk just radiating off the very last acknowledgement page. She's good, folks. Better than good.
This is a really hard book to review. At least, it was for me. You have so many twists and spoilers lurking everywhere that I just want to point at each aspect and say that was good and that and that and that.
We have Em, who we first meet in a prison (dungeon?) cell. Like most everyone, I adored Em. She was rough, but passionate. Willing to save Marina (the other girl who we'll get to) and Finn and take down the crazy Doctor. She's tortured daily, physically and emotionally. People always love a strong girl and there have been many discussions on what defines a character as strong. Physical strength? Emotional toughness? Mental stamina? Well, Em was all of that. She endured torture and escaped after finding a note, she constantly examined things throughout, and considering the hard spot she was put in, she knew to keep her emotions on a tight reign. She kicked butt and I loved it.
Then there's Marina. Rich, soft Marina. I did like her and continued to throughout the book. She's in love with her best friend James, but has everything else a teenager could want. Of course, that all comes crashing down when an incident happens and she realizes that nothing will ever be the same. I actually felt like Em in the story because I desperately wanted to protect her, but at the same time, wanted to open her eyes to the painful truth.
I wish I could talk about every single character because I liked them all. From Em to the helpful soldier, Terrill didn't waste a single line in the whole novel. If any of you read my 2013 End of Year Book Survey, you'll see that along with All Our Yesterdays appearing multiple times, one of the characters named Finn appeared as well in the fictional boyfriend question. Finn. Witty, sarcastic, loyal, charming, strong, and THERE. I don't know how else to describe it, but he's there for Em and has that thing about him that I love in fictional males.
The time travel:
Time travel is a tricky thing, I can't even imagine writing about it. How about if I just said that, yes, Terrill did an excellent job with it and explaining it and making me envision Em and Marina's whole world?
Well, obviously, I can't say anything about this point. Almost the whole book is made up of twists and spoilers. Some I guessed, some I flipped out over. It enthralled me. Each new chapter seemed to build my impatience to see what would happen, but at the same time, I wanted the story to go on forever. I heard something about one of the twists, but fortunately, it was miscommunication of sorts because I wasn't spoiled. Even if I was, Terrill made up for it with all the other surprises.
All I really wanted to do for this review was put a big stamp in the middle of the page that said: EXCELLENT. Truly, it was one of the best
standalones books I've ever read. I messaged Lauren from Love is not a triangle constantly through my process (thanks, Lauren!). The ending was exactly what I wanted so, yes, the glaring negative that I find is that there is now a sequel coming out. I will be definitely clamoring to get it, but considering that I thought a standalone would be perfect, it's disappointing. Also, I get anxiety just reading the synopsis.
Verdict: AMAZING, SPECTACULAR, WONDERFUL, um, all the positive emotions?