Sunday, 28 July 2013

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

Title: All Our Yesterdays
Author: Cristin Terrill
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: August 1st 2013
Pages: 379 (eBook)
Pre-Order: Amazon UK / Amazon US
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Em is locked in a bare, cold cell with no comforts. Finn is in the cell next door. The Doctor is keeping them there until they tell him what he wants to know. Trouble is, what he wants to know hasn't happened yet. 

Em and Finn have a shared past, but no future unless they can find a way out. The present is torture - being kept apart, overhearing each other's anguish as the Doctor relentlessly seeks answers. There's no way back from here, to what they used to be, the world they used to know. Then Em finds a note in her cell which changes everything. It's from her future self and contains some simple but very clear instructions. Em must travel back in time to avert a tragedy that's about to unfold. Worse, she has to pursue and kill the boy she loves to change the future.

I've had my eye on All Our Yesterdays for a while - for a debut, the synopsis hinted at an impressive but ambitious plot. For the first sentence, Terrill had me captured, so when I managed to get my hands on an ARC of it, I could hardly wait to sink my teeth into it! Unfortunately, a couple of pages in and I was already disappointed. However, what initially began as a 2-star book gradually transformed into a 4-star.

All Our Yesterdays flickers between four POVs - Marina, Em, future Finn, and past Finn. In the future, the Doctor has created a time machine - Cassandra - which he will use to do what he believes is good, but actually isn't. Knowing what horrors the future holds, both Em and Finn travel back in time to stop the Doctor before it's too late. However, all three of them are united by a shared past, and Em will soon find that maybe killing the Doctor and ending this madness isn't as straight-forward as she'd first hoped.

Of course the plot is way more complex than this, but it's difficult to describe without giving away some major plot twists. Like I said, it's incredibly ambitious, especially for a debut novel. The science fiction genre in itself is incredibly vast, and for Terrill to have picked something as complex as time travel and paradoxes is a massive project to take on - I mean, I watch Doctor Who and the one thing that will always stay in my mind (aside from wibbly wobbly, timey wimey) is the danger of paradoxes. Terrill takes this whole concept and turns it into something that physics-hating teenagers (coughcoughcough) will love and be able to understand. That's a pretty impressive feat, you've got to admit.

Now I think the overall idea for the novel was amazing, but the delivery wasn't exactly how I pictured it. Although I don't like physics, I think I was expecting something a little bit more technical - at times, it felt like Terrill changed certain rules just because she couldn't be bothered with coming up with a solution (quick spoiler alert here, but come on - everyone knows that your past self can't see your future self! It will mess not only with their mind, but the whole spacetime continuum! You can't just change that to make it easier!) For an initial plot with so much potential, it just felt like certain things fell a little bit flat and let it down.

I don't know how I feel about the characters. Finn was adorable, but I felt that as the reader, I didn't get to know him quite as much as I would have liked. The same goes for James, who seemed to character-slip quite a lot. I mean, he was originally put across as an awkward/geeky/mathematical/quiet kind of guy - but then he'd go about kissing Marina and calling her "kid" - it was like he switched between being a geek to a jock and back again! To me, he didn't feel like he could be a real person.

I felt kind of closer to Em and Marina, though Marina didn't half get on my nerves at times! However, the same thing still applies as it does to the boys - I didn't feel connected to them. Even in books with the most out-there and whackiest of themes, I like to be able to relate to the character on some level, as I find it easier to slip into the story. All Our Yesterdays kind of lacked that depth, so instead of living inside the story with them, I was just a reader.

Overall, I was disappointed by this book and not at exactly the same time. I think I was expecting a lot more on the sci-fi front, getting my inner geek out a bit, so I was let down when it was quite mundane. However, the plot twists definitely made up for this - at the beginning, I thought I was guessing all the twists and turns and was getting kind of exasperated. But I didn't see the last and final few coming, so I was left, having finished the book, in total shock! So it was good, definitely. Though I have one final question to ask; why is there a sequel?
Rating: 4/5


  1. I've been eyeing this one for quite a while but after reading your review, I think I'm going to pre-order my own copy. Lovely review!

    1. Oh, I'm so glad! It really is one of a kind, I must say - and a lot to pull off for a debut! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  2. I really loved this book, although I found the beginning and ending very confusing. I loved Finn and Em, but Marina and James were less great characters in my opinion. Great review! And no, I don't understand why the writer would make a sequel either.

    1. The beginning was especially confusing - I had to keep referring back to the synopsis to remember what the plot even was! I know, the sequel is a complete mystery! I don't know whether I want to read it or not; is it better to let sleeping dogs lie? :/