Review of “All Our Yesterdays” by Cristin Terrill

This is a YA time travel story, unique in that the narration not only alternates between the same characters, but between their past and present selves. What is also different about this time travel story is that the future versions of people can interact with the past versions. Em and her boyfriend Finn go back to the past to kill James, who is Em’s first love and Finn’s best friend. And the future James goes back to prevent it.

allouryesterdays

As the book begins, Em and Finn are in separate prison cells, getting tortured regularly. They need to figure out how to escape and go back to the past to stop all this from happening. They have apparently tried before: Em has left herself a note explaining that she has escaped thirteen previous times, and failed. This time, she says to her future self in the note, “You have to kill him.”

Presumably, this note instructs her to kill James, but this will be especially tricky because it was James who invented time travel. Also, none of the previous efforts by Em and Finn, in which they took actions that should have changed the future, actually did change anything. So there are a number of paradoxes that might cause Einstein to shudder.

Moreover, in spite of the fact that James has turned into a monster, Em has difficulty killing him. Em is well aware of the hell the world has turned into because of James. She has been tortured repeatedly. Finn is tortured as well when Em won’t answer questions, and Em has to listen to his screams. She even allowed a good man to get killed once in the past, to enable her to escape. So I don’t quite get her reluctance to pull the trigger with James.

I also could make a complaint about the tired triangle trope, with childhood-friend versus friend’s-best-friend-you-think-you-hate-but-then-realize-you-love. And both of them are doing ear tucks to Em! (The author doesn’t even bother to change the phrasing much. Twice, “[he] tucks a loose strand of hair behind my ear.” In a third instance, “[he] tucks a strand of hair behind my ears.” Presumably, it, too, was loose….)

Nevertheless, this story certainly kept me turning the pages, even if I’m not sure I bought all the plot premises.

Discussion: This book has been very well received, and I agree it has a terrific level of tension and suspense, but some of the premises just didn’t gel for me. Of course, a sequel is planned.

Rating: 2.5/5

Published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group, 2013.

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5 Responses

  1. Well I LOVE time travel. It makes my brain buzz. But for me to read a YA trilogy (ugh) you have to absolutely rave about it and say I have to read it or else. And you seem less than enthusiastic here, so I’ll probably give it a pass. But keep your eye out for good time travel stuff, ala Doomsday Book or Time Traveler’s Wife. I love that stuff.

  2. Time travel! Multiple viewpoints! Heros and villians being the same person past and present?! How do you keep it all straight? Sounds like it is a recipe for confusion but sign me up anyway. (And I know I will giggle when I encounter the ear-tuck.) Oh wait. It’s a trilogy? nevermind…
    I will take Sandy’s advice and seek out Doomsday Book.

  3. I’m beginning to think you’re 15 years old deep down inside. I’ve only read one time travel book that I can recall and I loved it but this one is probably not for me.

  4. Oh, the infamous ear-tuck rears its ugly head. I reiterate that nobody has ever tucked my hair behind my ear affectionately, and they would probably lose a hand if they tried.

  5. OOH this sounds interesting!

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