Friday, September 6, 2013

Book Review: All Our Yesterdays

"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.   Quoted from Goodreads


Maybe I'm being overly generous because I'm still caught up in the world of All Our Yesterdays, but I love this book.  I mean, did you read that premise?  I was sold on that alone. Add to that the excellent cover, and I was a fan already.  Time travel books, if they're done well, are some of my favorite, and this is no exception.  I love the idea behind it, the contrast and similarities between Em and Marina, and the way the story plays out.

The story starts out with a bang and never really lets up.  We first see Em in prison. Everything is bleak, the world is broken, and  then she gets a message form herself.  From the future.  I mean, great hook right there.  

I loved the contrast between Marina and Em.  Em is dedicated. She's been on the run, tortured, and imprisoned for months.  Marina is the epitome of rich and spoiled, with shallow friends and an unrequited crush on the boy next door. Then something happens, and you get to see from Marina's POV the beginning of Em's world. It makes Marina a little bit harder to connect to than Em at first, but she grows on you.  Plus, her plot line is so interesting, you can't help but be excited when we see the story through her eyes. I won't go into too many details because I don't want to spoil anything, but I loved the duel point of view.

As for the time travel, itself, it's kind of fun.  I love the list.  The crossed out list of fifteen other things Em has tried to change the past besides killing him.  I love the loop. The way she's lived the same four years over and over again, each one a tiny bit different, but ultimately leading to the same place.  Sure, it's kind of convenient the way time itself is a player, healing and preventing catastrophic paradoxes, but it's kind of interesting, too.  It's a fun little spin, you just have to have an open mind.

Besides just time travel, we get lots of different kinds of action. The parts from Marina's POV come across more like a political thriller, full of government conspiracies, assassinations, and the secret service.  Em's is all about the time-travel side of things: watching how things change, her fears of loosing the bits of good that came with the bad, and eventually the end of this version of herself.  Plus, there are a lot of fun reveals.  Some, of course, are pretty easy to guess, but there were a few I wasn't expecting, and with time travel, that's always fun.

As for the romance, it's deceptively complicated and surprisingly sweet.  We get to watch as one relationship begins to fall apart while another one grows. You know where the book is heading, and while your heart sort of breaks for the characters, there's hope there too.  

All in all, I'm going to give this a strong 4 stars, which basically means everyone should read this.  It's an excellent beginning to a new series  and I can't wait to see what happens next.  Everything really does sort of wrap up at the end, but there's a few loose holes I can see leading towards the next book. Still, while I can't wait to see where the author takes this, it's also a satisfying book on its own---so you kind of get the best of both worlds.

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