All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill (2013)
Suggested age range: 13 and up
(Disney Hyperion, 368 pages)
Rating: 4/5 stars
Time travel has been invented in a future world. However, the creation of this time machine has ushered in an era of evil and corruption, and the person responsible for the creation of this machine must die. Before he creates the machine. And what if you were the person who had to travel back in time to accomplish this? Suppose this person was…your best friend?
This is what the central character of All Our Yesterdays is faced with in the early chapters of this newly published fantasy. The book opens with the protagonist imprisoned in a cell in a military facility and immediately the reader realizes these are not five star accommodations. Rather, Em has something the government wants, and they are torturing her in order to attempt to extricate this from her. Her friend is imprisoned in the cell next to her. A page-turner from the very beginning, Terrill’s novel picks up even more speed when the two friends escape and travel four years back in time in an attempt to right a wrong. Their success will ensure that the world avoids the corruption their present selves have been witnessing. But can they do it?
Many people might assume that the invention of a time machine would help sort the world out. However, in this book, the creation of a time machine brings about terrible events that Marina and her friend are prepared to die to prevent.
Twists and turns abound in the story, and though the reader may think Marina is shallow, selfish, and insecure based on her performance in the beginning, as the novel progresses, we receive a more expansive picture of who she is and why she acts the way she does. At the same time, I did find myself wanting more in the way of character development among the major players in the book. Portraits of the characters that were more dimensional and complex would definitely add to the book. Perhaps, a prequel or sequel that offers more colorful portraits of the characters and deeper insight into their motivations would be welcome.
For parents who might be concerned, there is some violence in the book, as well as language, but for a new teen thriller, this book was one I could not put down, and strongly recommend. In addition to recommending it for its page turning and plot driven attributes, I recommend it for the kinds of philosophical questions it raises that relate to the topic of time travel and changing the past.
In terms of spirituality and young adult literature, time travel fantasy has something significant to offer because of the themes and topics these stories illuminate. If one aspect of spirituality is our relationship with others in the context of our relationship to God, or a divine source, how does changing the past or seeing the future before it happens affect these relationships? In terms of thinking about past events and whether someone should go back and change them or not, we are also beginning a conversation about what we think of a divine source who is or is not orchestrating the events of the world.
Terrill’s book is definitely one not to be missed, especially if you enjoy time travel.