All Our Yesterdays: review

All Our Yesterdays
Cristin Terrill
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Release Date: September 3rd, 2013
Disney Hyperion
Age Group: YA
Source: ARC provided by the publisher

All Our Yesterdays begins with an intriguing scenario: a girl who is locked in a cell discovers instructions for preventing a time machine from being built. They’re from the girl herself. FROM THE FUTURE. Cue the dramatic music!

The story of Em, who’s locked in that cell, and Marina, who’s had a crush on her childhood friend her whole life, is a tricky puzzle, combined with an exciting mission that Em has to accomplish before it’s too late. The plot moves along at a fast clip, with breakneck action interspersed with some romance–because hey, even when the world’s future is at stake, you’re gonna notice the cute guy in the prison cell next to you.

I liked how the author addressed time travel paradox and causal loop questions, though if you’re dissecting the plot bit by bit, I’m sure you’d find some things to nitpick–but then again, scientists and armchair theorists have been debating those paradoxes for ages anyway. You’ll also have to look the other way with the ease and convenience with which certain things occur, but none of these things really bothered me,  and I think time travel makes a lot more sense in this story than it does in most.

The thing I feel a little less enthused about are the characters. I like them all just fine, but they are all in this story to Do This Thing and pretty much just that, so more nuance and inner dialogue would have made this story more textured. We also aren’t really given much reason why the present day characters are supposedly so different from the past characters, and I was particularly frustrated with Em’s repeated inability to do what she knows needs to be done.  While understandable once, maybe even twice, seeing it happen more than that made me pretty impatient. There are better ways to have confrontation that drives the story forward without so many opportunities that the heroine just can’t live up to. Because the structure of the book is designed to deliberately mislead the reader, it isn’t really clear what Em really knows, even after you get the first of several reveals.

The antagonist is also a less complex than I would have hoped, as are the explanations for the terrible war that is raging outside the military complex where Em is being held. While I don’t need every scifi thriller to have chapters filled with exhaustive history and back story, more detail would have made the book more convincing and compelling.

All in all, I enjoyed this very much, however–it’s an entertaining book that would make a very fun action film. The first half is more tautly plotted than the second, and I did guess pretty much all of the twists ahead of time, but that didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment of the book. I particularly liked the resolution and ending, but as with Proxy, I hope the recently-announced sequel doesn’t mean that the ending is negated. I’m not sure where the story goes from here, as things seem wrapped up pretty nicely–but I do know that I’ll be checking it out.

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