I have to admit, I’ve steered clear of YA, especially dystopian romances, for a while. In fact, I only picked up All Our Yesterdays because it was $8.00 at K-Mart and I needed something to read. After other disappointments with YA in general, I really didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did.
All Our Yesterdays is Terrill’s debut, and it’s a good one. We open on protagonist, Em, locked in a cell sometime in the near future and being tortured for information. This dark scenario is interspersed with glimpses of the contrastingly shallow, boy-obsessed Marina. It’s a bit of fun trying to piece together how the two are connected, and at first when I figured it out early on, I (wrongly) assumed that I had bested the big mystery of the book in under two chapters.
Terrill’s fast-paced and thought-provoking sci-fi has more to offer than that, though, cleverly weaving the good old theme of time-travel in with politics, intrigue and action balanced on the increasingly fine line between right and wrong. Even the romance/love triangle element didn’t annoy the hell out of me like it usually does, because Terrill manages to grow the character of Marina beautifully, from lovesick teen to someone mature enough to question the reasoning and rightness behind her infatuation.
What All Our Yesterdays brings to the table in terms of the time-travel genre is a well-explained, brilliantly thought out explanation of the laws of time, with Doctor Who-esque justifications of paradoxes and how changing the past can affect the future. This novel does just what any good sci-fi should; it takes the improbable and creates a world just possible enough to make you wonder – and yes, the politics behind the world created are touched on enough to make this future seem not only believable, but scary.
The book also explores good and evil, not as polar opposites, but as things present in all of us. If you knew you had to kill someone to make the future a better place, could you do it? Even if that person was someone you loved? Even if his younger self only acted according to what he thought was the ‘greater good’? The character of James is especially interesting in his growth and development, as he struggles against his supposed future whilst rushing towards it at the same time.
Cristin Terrill has swayed me on the subject of YA, and now I eagerly await the promised sequel. Picking up All Our Yesterdays turned out to be a good decision, and I encourage others to do the same.
Review by Chloe