Series: All Our Yesterdays #1
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Published by Disney Hyperion (9.3.2013)
eARC, 368 pages
"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.
I was sure I was going to love this one. I mean, come on – time travel?! How can that not be amazing? I’ve always been fascinated by time travel stories. But sadly, this one fell a bit flat for me. I really struggled in the first half. If I had to rate this book by each half, it’d probably be 1-2 stars in the beginning and 4 stars at the end. I’m glad I stuck with it!
The world building was inconsistent and kind of nonsensical. Terrorists were setting bombs off, and the person responsible for creating the time machine was the one who increased security (apparently to extreme levels) to prevent it from happening again. Where is the president? The DoD? How can one person have so much power? The world can’t just go from a democracy to a dictatorship overnight. What happened to the government? And what year is it?
The last time I was out in the world, there were Marines with machine guns on every busy street corner who could demand your ID for no reason at all. We were at war with China and fearing impending air raids against California, while a group of terrorists was setting off bombs in smaller cities up and down the East Coast. Even your home wasn’t safe. With the government monitoring cell phones and Internet usage, one questionable word was enough to have the DHS breaking down your door and dragging you off to a FEMA camp as a suspected terrorist.
So FEMA and Homeland Security still exist, but not the rest of the government? Right. And if I was paying attention, I’m pretty sure all this happened in a 2-year span. It would have made more sense if they had been 10 years older. Something awful is happening to the rest of the world as well, but all we get is a very miniscule explanation of how it’s ‘bad out there’:
When [we] were captured, American drone planes were attacking China, Israel was in a nuclear standoff with Syria, and a good chunk of Houston had just been wiped off the map.
“We need to destroy Cassandra before it’s ever built, or it’s going to end the world. People weren’t meant to travel in time.”
That’s it. Seriously. If you know me, you’ll know that I’m a bit of a world building whore. I need details! How did this happen? When did it start? What year is it?!?! That bugged the crap out of me! But the thing is, if it hadn’t mentioned how ‘bad’ it was, I wouldn’t have wondered in the first place. It was easy to forget that stopping the time machine was about saving the world (eye roll) because there was so much focus on Em and Marina and their connection to James. In fact, I feel like there was more of that than actual time travel. Which is why I had trouble in the beginning.
In fact, in the first half there wasn’t much happening at all. It’s really more of Marina’s everlasting
obsession love for James and how she’s trying to win him over. And let me just say: I couldn’t stand Marina. She was one of those girls. You know, the type that tries to be just like all her ‘pretty’ friends to get the guy and changes things about her to please said guy. Ugh.
Sophie tries on a couple of the dresses I bought during our latest shopping trip. Every one of them looks loose on her perfect body. I decide to eat nothing but salad for the next week before school starts.
Words cannot express how much that last sentence pissed me off. I immediately hated Marina. My hatred for her was only exceeded by my hatred for her so called ‘friends.’
“You should totally sleep with him. Hello, you’re going to some fancy party that probably has an open bar, and your parents are out of town. It’s perfect. Plus, you’re sixteen already. Go much longer and it starts to get embarrassing.”
Well, I guess not everybody can be a skank like you, Tamsin. That’s totally embarrassing. *rolls eyes* The fact that they kept insisting that Marina had to sleep with James to get him to like her drove me bat shit crazy. I wanted to chuck my Kindle at a wall. And Marina repeatedly thought of what they would do in a situation (i.e. “Tamsin or Sophie wouldn’t be all mute and trembling, so I won’t be either. I’m casual”). What’s wrong with doing what you feel is right and being yourself?! And did I mention she was bossy and arrogant as well?
“You might find people more helpful if you didn’t order them around like they work for you.”
“Well, considering how much money my family contributes to the hospitals of the city, they might as well.”
That’s a fabulous excuse to be a total bitch. Way to go, Marina!
Em was alright, but even her parts in the beginning weren’t very interesting to me. She was so detached and clinical about everything that was happening, I couldn’t find any connection with her at all. Not to mention we’re thrown into things; she had absolutely no thought process of how she got there or what was going on around her. At first I thought she didn’t know, because that’s what it seemed like. I thought she didn’t have any memory. I don’t even know why that bugged me – we do find out answers gradually – but I feel like if she’s trapped in a cell with nothing better to do, she’d be thinking about it all. Maybe that’s just me. I just felt like it could have been set up a bit better. View Spoiler »Oh, and it was painfully obvious that Em and Marina were the same person. I figured it out as soon as Marina’s first chapter started. « Hide Spoiler
Despite all that, the last half was way better. If the whole book had been like the last 25%, this probably could have been 4+ stars for me. It was fast paced and focused on the action. The stakes were high. And there was a twist that I didn’t see coming! View Spoiler »No wonder they were so desperate to kill James! « Hide Spoiler
I have to give credit where credit is due, there was a moral for Marina in there, and clear character growth.View Spoiler » Em was such a different person, and realized that Marina was ‘catty and shallow.’ She was very aware of the flaws she used to have, and I like that in the end she left Marina with that knowledge. « Hide Spoiler
I didn’t like the first half, but I did really enjoy the ending. Would I recommend it? Maybe, as long as you’re expectations of the sci-fi aspect aren’t too high.
Writing style: 3.5/5
Overall rating: 3/5