“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 time travel book different from the (few) others I’ve read. Those were all romances. The main character went back (or forward) in time and fell in love, only to be ripped apart from the one she loved when she had to return to her own time. There’s a touch of romance in All Our Yesterdays, but it’s anything but the main plot.
When imprisoned Em discovers a hidden set of instructions in her cell, she recognizes the handwriting. It’s her own, and she knows exactly what she has to do. She and Finn, the boy from the next cell, have to escape and travel back in time to do the job Em has left instructions for herself to do.
While many of the plot points and twists are predictable — the mysteriously unnamed-at-first characters are exactly who you think they are — All Our Yesterdays is exciting and fast-paced. The story unfolds quickly, with a lot of action. It’s unlike anything I’ve read before, but I don’t read a lot of science fiction or time travel so I’m not sure exactly what’s out there.
My favorite part of the book was the friendships between the characters, especially James, Marina, and Finn. The romance/relationship didn’t do much for me. I can see HOW it happened but I don’t really care that it did, and that may be because I cared much more about Marina and Finn than I did Em and Finn. Em is harder than Marina, naturally. She went through A LOT in the four years between her spoiled rich kid life as Marina and when we first meet her as Em. Em isn’t as likable as Marina is either, and she spends most of the book unable to do what she needs to do. That doesn’t really ring true to her character to me, not after what she’s experienced and what she knows.
The main issue I had trouble with is not a failing of All Our Yesterdays, but of me. I can’t wrap my head around the idea that time is non-linear. It slowed me down and pulled me out of the story. It doesn’t help that the book states that time takes care of any paradoxes on its own. While I’m no scientist (so what do I know?), I spent some time thinking about it while I was out of the story, and I fundamentally disagree. I just don’t think it would work that way. Maybe this is something you have to accept just because the book says so. I couldn’t do that, so again, that’s my failing.
I thought All Our Yesterdays was a stand-alone, but I see on Goodreads that there’s going to be another book. (And, I would guess, a third, since trilogies are all the rage these days.) I don’t see where the story can go from here. It was complete at the end of All Our Yesterdays. But I’ll probably read it anyway.