Book Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

Posted September 19, 2013 by Kara in bookish bingo, Kara / 14 Comments

Book Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin TerrillAll Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 3rd, 2013
Genres: science fiction, young adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

What would you change?

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 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, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. 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. Em and Marina are in a race against time that only one of them can win.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

Sometimes books can become a victim of the hype machine. Pretty much everyone that you know loves it, so when you begin to read it, you expect it to blow you away. Listen. I know it is unfair to heap this kind of expectation on any book, but sometimes it is inevitable and impossible to prevent. And that is what happened in the case of All Our Yesterdays. That is what I think, anyway. Do I think I would have enjoyed it more and possibly rated it higher had my expectations not been blown sky high by other book bloggers? Possibly. But there really is no way to know this, so I have to make do with what I do know. 

So what do I know? Well, I know I liked the writing. It was very easy for me to read and follow along with, and yet still incredibly poetic and artistic, which I loved. It’s the kind of writing that resonates with me the most, and I also find it incredibly memorable. Because months from now, when I remember absolutely nothing about this book, I will remember that Cristin Terrill is an author I would read again based on writing alone.

I also really liked the characters. Some readers had an issue with Marina, which I understand, but I did not have an issue because I knew she was a necessary evil to present a believable character arc. Characters need to adapt and change, and since we are reading the book from two different periods in time, we need to actually SEE how the characters have changed. And I was impressed with how they did develop and adapt to their situations.

And now here is where I start to get negative. Though I liked the characters, I did not care about them. I did not care about what happened, and I never really felt emotionally connected to the plot. A book can be technically impressive (like this one was) and still do nothing for the reader’s feelings. And it makes me sad. I wanted to be one of the bloggers that adored this and shouted from the rooftops.

But the thing that annoyed me the most and let me down more than anything was the ending. Up until that point, I think I would have given this 4 stars instead of 3. But I just didn’t get it! To me, it wrapped up too easily. The science didn’t seem logical to me. It might follow all the rules of time travel out there (though I don’t know if it does), but it didn’t work for me personally. And every time the science was explained, I just kind of wasn’t buying it. And without revealing spoilers, a big twist that happens to a character turns out to not be a twist at all, and I am not a fan of bad things happening to characters and then them not being so bad after all. It feels like a cop out. I want brutal endings most of the time. And if you are going to make it brutal, keep it that way.

And then, what I thought was a standalone is not, and that is incredibly frustrating when you think you are going to get all the answers and find out that, no, you have to read an entire other book to get the full story. I’m not gonna do that because I didn’t like it enough to keep on. I don’t know if this was announced from the beginning and just not publicized enough, but if so, it should have been. Readers have a right to know this stuff. I am already partway through too many series and I don’t need another one–especially not one I wasn’t planning for. So to say I am disappointed is an understatement.

But hey, I know I am in the minority on this book. So before you decide fully based on my opinion alone, maybe you should read one (or more) of the positive reviews. And I guess in some ways I do recommend this book to readers. It was decent, I was just disappointed overall, and it ended up being average for me. The beginning of All Our Yesterdays really hooked me and I was sold, but about one third of the way through the book I began to lose interest, and it just went downhill from there. Maybe that won’t happen to you. I hope not.

14 responses to “Book Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

  1. Amy

    I know what you mean about book hype. It’s hard to not get excited when everyone else seems to love something. I wasn’t a big fan of the ending either. In fact I had to go re-read because I was confused about it. I did enjoy the book though. Great review hon. 🙂

  2. Ugh, the hype monster rears his ugly head once again.

    I’ve mostly stayed away from this one because I’m not a time travel lover. I can just never wrap my head around it, even if it’s explained perfectly. Even Harry Potter kind of confused me.

    It’s so frustrating when you can like a book, and see its positive qualities, and still not connect with it. I’ve had that happen a few times before and it always makes me sad, especially when a friend loved the book.

  3. I really wish I hadn’t known about the hype before I read this, because I might have been more impressed. Unfortunately, I was really disappointed by this book. I did have issues with Marina, but I also didn’t care about the characters I DID like. I also struggled with the world building, since we don’t get a clear view of what happened in those four (?) years.

    “The beginning of All Our Yesterdays really hooked me and I was sold, but about one third of the way through the book I began to lose interest, and it just went downhill from there.” YES! This. I loved the beginning, but then I realized I didn’t care about anyone and… meh. So glad to hear I’m not alone!

    • Same. I didn’t care about the characters that much even if they were well written. It was odd. And yes, the world building was very hard to follow. There just wasn’t enough to go on.

      I am also so glad I am not alone. Thanks, Judith!

  4. It’s a real shame when book hype gets to you and let you down. I for one, loved this book but I guess I hadn’t seen much hype before that for my expectations to be high. Unlike you, I pratically fell in love with the characters.

    Great review, Kara! <33

  5. It really is SO frustrating when you think you’re reading a stand-alone then you realize it’s part of a series. Sometimes a book NEEDS a sequel/s – other times, it doesn’t and it just feels like a play for more hype and money.

    Too bad you couldn’t really get into the characters, but when you can’t, it’s always harder to really love a book. Lovely review, Kara! Can’t wait to experience this one for myself.

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  6. Ahh the hype machine is why I am staying away for a little. I am convinced that I will have the same experience as you – the book being decent, but not blow-my-mind-away awesome.

    Yeah, it’s inevitable and impossible to prevent the high expectations! It’s not the book’s fault, but the book certainly gets extra attention because of the hype, so it’s both a good and bad thing and totally not isolated to one reader. My expectations have lowered since I read a bunch of reviews — shame that yours were still high when you read it.

    Ooh. You’ve made me curious about the writing. Few of the reviews I’d read focused on the writing – more so on the plot, time travel, and characters. But that sounds like one of my favorite types of writing too, and especially strong too if you’d just come back for her work based on the writing alone!

    Marina as “necessary evil” – I am very curious as to what this means. She’s very immature? And she adapts into a great character later? I agree with you on needing to see them change over the course of the novel. That’s one of my favorite parts of any YA novel.

    I heard the same about the characters. That they were vessels for the plot but that they didn’t actually grab a lot of the readers – that it was much more plot oriented. “A book can be technically impressive (like this one was) and still do nothing for the reader’s feelings.” <– Yep. This was me and Girl of Fire and Thorns, and I had no idea how to write my review for the book.

    Ahh, maybe the ending isn’t supposed to wrap so easily and that’s why there’s a sequel? I’ve heard there’s a lot of confusion over that, so maybe it’s a supposedly easy ending that’ll turn to complications later o.O?

    “And without revealing spoilers, a big twist that happens to a character turns out to not be a twist at all, and I am not a fan of bad things happening to characters and then them not being so bad after all. It feels like a cop out.” <– Yep. Kind of how I feel about love triangles. If you’re going to get into that situation, why does NO interest ever have that brutal ending of having to break the other’s heart? Or stay with the interest-who’s-not-meant-to-be, etc.?

    “I don’t know if this was announced from the beginning and just not publicized enough, but if so, it should have been.” <– I don’t think so. I’ve read a lot of books and a lot of people expressed surprise over the sequel – that it should exist and that they expected the book to be a standalone.

    • Oh man. I wish I had read some of the negative reviews before I started it. But almost all my friends had loved it–and people I usually agree with–so I thought I would be the same.

      About Marina, I think you will understand more when you read it. She’s shallow, bratty, and annoying and many people didn’t like her, but her character arc was necessary so she could have a character arc that felt convincing within the narrative.

      I actually liked Girl of Fire and Thorns a lot but I do understand why people wouldn’t. Elisa is kind of hard to like, at times.

      Maybe about the ending. I don’t know. Either way, it was confusing and very unsatisfying.

      YES, about love triangles. I want to read about REAL LIFE. Make it realistic.

      Good to know. I thought I might have missed the announcement.

      Your comments are the best, Christina!

  7. I hate it when I find out that books I assumed are standalones are actually part of a series. So frustrating, like you said, with so many series out there! I’m not sure whether this one was trying to be tricky about its series status, however. Because some totally are. So perhaps the fact that it’s unfinished is a good thing, that at least readers know the author always intended to continue this story and presumably has a clear direction to head in?
    That’s good to know that you enjoyed the writing style, even if you weren’t able to connect with the characters very well. I have an ARC I need to read sooner rather than later, so I’ll be curious to see if the things that bothered you also bother me or not.

    • I saw the author tweet about it not being a standalone on Twitter, but I am pretty sure this was the only announcement, AND the book had already been released. Somehow, it seems a little misleading.

      I did like her writing. It flowed well. I am not a fan of choppy writing styles. for the most part. I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

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