Friday, August 23, 2013

ARC Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill


Title: All Our Yesterdays (Cassandra Chronicles, #1)

Author: Cristin Terrill

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Release Date: September 3rd, 2013 

All Our Yesterdays is the book I've dreamt about, for nearly two years now. Ever since I began watching Doctor Who, I've been a huge fan of time travel. Sadly, however, none of the time travel books out there seemed truly remarkable and after watching episodes that blew my mind (thank you, Steven Moffat!), I knew that it would take a lot for a novel about time travel to truly impress me. Thus, it was a thrilling - and by no means expected - surprise to find that All Our Yesterdays was every bit as brilliant as rumored. Of course, this isn't a perfect debut, but it's pretty darn close.

All Our Yesterdays can be a bit confusing, at least when it comes to the plot, but I firmly believe that this novel is experienced at its best when little is truly known about it. Instead, what you do need to really know about this tale is that it revolves around the friendship of three teenagers, one of whom goes on to create a time machine and slowly become consumed by his ambition and greed. Thus, in order to save the world from the destruction they've witnessed in the future, the other two - Em (or Marina) and Finn - travel back in time to change the future. After dozens of unsuccessful attempts, they've both arrived at the same conclusion: in order for the future to be protected, they must kill their friend...before he turns into the monster he will eventually become.

What Terrill excels at with her debut are her characters. Each and every character is complicated and three-dimensional. Nothing about this story is black-and-white and although it seems like a simple thing to know right from wrong, Terrill goes on to show us just how ambiguous morality can be. Not only are her time travel elements intelligent and believable, but they also work together with the plot seamlessly. Em and Finn, now much older than their teenage selves, carry the burden of the future with them, but also that of knowing their friend before he changed. Thus, to kill him before the transformation is complete is much harder than they anticipated. Furthermore, even though we are given glimpses into the future, we also know the past. As Em and Finn know their friend, we grow to know him too, and despite knowing what he becomes, we cannot help but like him for who he is now. Terrill truly opens a can of worms with the questions she forces readers to truly ponder and I love a book that can make me think and question what I myself to believe cold, hard facts. Furthermore, the plot of this novel is breath-taking. It is doubtful that you will even have time to breathe; I know I forgot to on more than one occasion. Moreover, I found that the pacing was perfect, so by the time everything came together by the end, I was practically falling to the floor off my seat in excitement and curiosity.

And yet, perhaps because of the brilliance of so many concepts, Terrill's faults are also rather egregious. Most notably, perhaps, is that it is ever-so-slightly difficult to truly enjoy her characterization until much later in the novel. Marina, the younger version of Em, is a rich - there's no other word - brat. As the story progresses, though, it becomes clear that the transformation of these characters from their younger, innocent selves to their older, hardened selves is remarkable. And yet, it also reduces the emotional impact the characters have. Furthermore, many of the events in this novel are grossly simplified by the presence of money. With novels like The Raven Boys, the economic status of her characters seems a natural and ingrained factor. With All Our Yesterdays, however, it truly felt convenient. Moreover, I found that minority characters - such as a Mexican housekeeper - were sadly stereotyped. As I mentioned, Terrill's attention to detail in so many areas grew to become a fault as the few issues she didn't focus on became small flaws in her otherwise brilliant debut. Nevertheless, All Our Yesterdays isn't a book to miss out on. It's fast-paced, intelligent, romantic (oh, how you will swoon!) and - most of all - thought-provoking. I'm not sure there's anything more I could possibly ask for.

12 comments:

  1. Ah, yes, the wealth and the genius combined. How very comic supervillain. But overall, I agree with you: this was a rather refreshing and interesting read. Most of all, I think I enjoyed how Terrill faced the challenges that stemmed from her unusual choice of narrators.
    I'm glad this didn't disappoint you, especially since you waited as long as you did.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, I'm so glad that you enjoyed this one, Keertana! I've heard some great things about it, and I love that it sounds both challenging and interesting. I do worry about stereotyped characters, as that's a huge pet-peeve of mine, but I think I might be able to overlook it if the rest of the novel is done really well. Lovely review :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Moreover, I found that the pacing was perfect, so by the time everything came together by the end, I was practically falling to the floor off my seat in excitement and curiosity."

    YES! I couldn't agree more Keertana, I'm so glad you loved this one too! I thought plot was extraordinarily well executed and I actually had to physically force myself to put the book down and go to bed at about 2am. Who needs to function at work though really? Not this girl:) *happy dance* Gorgeous review!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ha. I thought Marina was a bit of a brat too. I judged her the instant I met her, but I loved the growth throughout the course of the book. And there haven't been many time travel books that have managed to impress me in the last few years either, so All Our Yesterdays is even more of a welcomed surprise. I'm so glad you enjoyed this, Keertana! I was worried that you wouldn't. :D Lovely review!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Eep I have v excited for this book! I've only heard good things. I'm really glad you enjoyed it and I'm really curious about the characterization now. It sounds like quite the journey.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love time-travel books, but only when they're done really well. It looks like Terrill did her job! I think it's interesting that you say "to know less is better" in this book, now I really want to read it! I hope the slight confusion in the beginning can be overlooked. And wow, the plot sounds stunningly breathtaking! I'm excited to see what that's all about. And even if you had some issues with the characters, All Our Yesterdays still looks near perfect. Beautiful review as always, Keertana!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm so happy to see that you enjoyed this story as well. I really wanted to find a good travel book and it seems we both found it now. You might have enjoyed this one even more than me. You're right it's not perfect, but it's really close. Amazing review Keertana :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am soooo excited to read this!!! I have been hearing nothing but fabulous things about it! I love the time travelling concept and the sound of the characters! And I am totally curious about the romance in this one. Too bad about the delay in characterization, and the small flaws, but the characters overall do sound impressive. I can't wait to see how Terrill balances everything out in this world. I'm glad you enjoyed this, Keertana! Brilliant review! :D

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair 

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great review. I wanna read this one so bad :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I just skimmed this, because I haven't read it and I'm at the point where reading reviews will mess with my experience. HOWEVER, I am thrilled that you enjoyed it so much and that this book has gotten consistently high ratings across the blogging world. I'm hoping I'm able to emotionally connect with these characters!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Lovely review, Keertana! I'm not really enamored with the whole time-travel plotline yet, but I'm hoping that's because I just haven't been properly exposed to many decent ones. I saw the first season of Dr. Who but didn't really love it. Time travel just hasn't seemed like my thing, but I'm hoping to be proven wrong once I read this book. For you to give it such a high rating is high praise indeed. While the flaws sound a bit annoying, they also seem minor in comparison to the story as a whole, at least. I have a copy coming, and I can't wait to give it a chance!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Did you know you can create short urls with AdFly and make cash from every visitor to your shortened links.

    ReplyDelete

I love hearing from my readers and I read, reply, and appreciate every one of the comments I receive!(: If you're a fellow blogger, please leave a link to your blog - I'd love to drop by!

Unfortunately, this is now an award-free blog. I simply do not have the time to respond and forward on the award, but I truly appreciate the nomination regardless.