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.
When I finished ALL OUR YESTERDAYS, the first in the Cassandra Chronicles duology, you could have knocked me over with a feather, and I would not have noticed. This is one of those books where in the last few pages you’re given what you feel is closure, and then boom! The author turns around and smacks you- not with a cliffhanger, but with the possibility of so much more, the understanding that just because the specific story being told ended, doesn’t mean there isn’t more for these characters that we’ve come to know over the 400 or so pages. I love those kinds of books, the ones that allow you to think and imagine and try to plot out what will, or could, or must happen, because it feels like the book could go on forever in your mind.
I am amazed that ALL OUR YESTERDAYS is Cristin Terrill’s first novel. It’s a very intricate story, with Terrill deftly switching between viewpoints and times frequently. Our narrators, Em and Marina, are two well developed characters, both fascinating in their own way. Em is hardened and rough, having lived through some terrible things, whereas Marina is innocent, almost naive in her trusting, and so young feeling. Over the course of the book, they both change and learn things about themselves and what they are - and are not - capable of. Aside from Em and Marina, the development of all the characters and how their actions and decisions set off events like dominos is well done and fascinating.
ALL OUR YESTERDAYS isn’t a book you pick up if you’re looking for clean lines and obvious good and evil. Time travel is one of those plot devices that can end up being used terribly or wonderfully, and it is used wonderfully in ALL OUR YESTERDAYS. Sometimes, I felt like my brain was being turned inside out, trying to put together the various twists and turns. Having the ability to time travel allows Terrill to explore how one little action on the part of Marina or Em, or James or Finn, can change the course of history. There are so many intersecting plot threads, so much ambiguity that I felt both sympathy and anger toward the “bad” guy who honestly thinks he is making the world a better place. It is a hard thing to make such a despicable character have any kind of redeeming qualities.
When I picked this book to review, there wasn’t anything that I could see that indicated it was going to be part of a series (or as I now know, a duology). When I finished the book, I discovered that there is going to be a second in the Cassandra Chronicles- and I’m not sure how I feel about that. ALL OUR YESTERDAYS stands so well on its own, I’m worried what a second book will do to the delightful open ended feeling we get from the first one. But I am also very curious about how Terrill will be twisting the story and getting another whole book out of the plot, so I will absolutely be picking it up. And I’ve already gushed about ALL OUR YESTERDAYS to all my young adult reading friends- this is definitely one you’ll want to add to your pre-order list.
- All Our Yesterdays
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