Book Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

“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.

My Rating: 4.5 cupcakes

If the government had the ability to travel in time, what would our society look like? Would international crises be averted or would the world quickly fall into a totalitarian regime? All Our Yesterdays takes the latter standpoint, and creates a scarily realistic picture of how time travel is not just neat – it’s a threat to all of us. The mechanics of how this type of time travel would work and all of its associated paradoxes were so well explained that I found myself wondering if such a thing could actually happen.

The characters were so beautifully written and complex, and all had such distinct voices. I admired Em’s resilience, Finn’s uncanny ability to make anyone smile even in the darkest of times, James’ determination to do the right thing… even Marina, who first appeared shallow and allowed a boy to define her actions, managed to grow on me. The relationships between the characters are so artfully manipulated throughout the course of the story that all of the character development that occurred was more than plausible given the circumstances. While some of the growth was subtle, much of the character development was tied into a simple, but important, question: how similar is the person you are now to the person you will become?

Overall, All Our Yesterdays was an amazing debut. Although it functions well as a stand-alone, I look forward to more adventures in time with these characters.

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