Friday, 26 July 2013

Review: All Our Yesterdays

All Our Yesterdays
Author: Cristin Terrill
Release date: August 1st 2013 (UK)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Source :  Received a digital copy via Bloomsbury UK and Netgalley. (In exchange for an honest review. Thank you! No, really. Thank. You.)

Em is locked in a bare, cold cell with no comforts. Finn is in the cell next door. The Doctor is keeping them there until they tell him what he wants to know. Trouble is, what he wants to know hasn't happened yet.

Em and Finn have a shared past, but no future unless they can find a way out. The present is torture - being kept apart, overhearing each other's anguish as the Doctor relentlessly seeks answers. There's no way back from here, to what they used to be, the world they used to know. Then Em finds a note in her cell which changes everything. It's from her future self and contains some simple but very clear instructions. Em must travel back in time to avert a tragedy that's about to unfold. Worse, she has to pursue and kill the boy she loves to change the future.

-Spoilers ahead!-

Oh. I can't take it, you guys! You know when you've read something so good you wish you hadn't read it so you could re-read anew?
I've only had a few books out of my two decades of life, one of the main ones being Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne, and Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson.
I'm not going to go into the whole Doctor Who thing, because I live in Cardiff and I'd be shunned and my best friend would kill me.
I don't know whether to laugh or cry, really, because finally, a book with such a beautiful cover, and, dude time travel, lived up to what I thought it would be. So beautifully written, with hope arising in the hopeless place the characters have come to live in. A world where time travel is real granted by the doctor and the director creating Cassandra. A world where every little thing you do is watched (Hey, big brother!) and a world where you could literally just disappear if the doctor decides you're a problem and sends someone back in the past to kill you. Which he has done. A lot. Assassinations', bomb attacks that causes a lot of revolt, forcing Em and Finn to run and get out while they can.  
Em and Finn were captured months ago by the doctor, and are imprisoned within concrete walls, with no comfort, no daylight, no civilisation save each other, and guards, the director, the doctor, who let's be honest, aren't civilised, and are tortured daily by the latter over documents Em supposedly hid. After months of torture for both Em and Finn, and their deepening feelings for one another, Em still won't give up the documents because she knows it's the only reason they haven't just killed them already.

Since they've been imprisoned a drain in Em's cell, she's obsessed over it, she knows somehow that it's important, despite her imagination running wild of what the drain is really for, and once she gets the chance to open it, she was right. A piece of paper, in her own writing that Em has no remembrance to, there is a list of things that have been tried and done, and only one thing telling her what she has to do.

You have to kill him.

Their safe alliance guard, who previous versions of Em and Finn have used to help them escape, well, helps them escape and off they go four years ago with the heavy burden of changing the world to make sure the doctor never gets a chance to create Cassandra.
The characters, oh my god, the characters. They were heart-wrenchingly real, and layered and I loved  reading the before and after of all of them, especially Finn, (Who well, hardens a little but is still the most genuinely, funny, caring guy, and the fact that even after the running, the torture, the doctor never quite suppressed his spirit and personality, he didn't crush him, and that made me love Finn more.

Em & Marina, oh poor Em and Marina. It was nice to see the creation of Em that the doctor created, how Marina was just so hell-hath-no-fury for her love of James in the first half. She was scared, but she was fierce when it came to him and maybe that's why I preferred Em more, because our innocent Marina couldn't see when it came to James, and that made it so much easier for things to pass around her when Em was Marina. Though I loved the Marina that inconsequently grew with the changes that happened, stood up for herself and said no, and for the first time let go.
Em was so freaking strong than she even knew and so different from Marina, she hardened over that time, the same as Finn, but she wasn't weak, even when she thought she was being selfish by not being able to kill one person for the lives of others, she wasn't weak. She was just...showing the part of her that even she hadn't seen for years, Marina. She was feeling all those things she had around the boy she loved, and mourned the boy the doctor wasn't. She was hardened, She loved Finn, and you could feel how much they were sacrificing, and even after all the Doctor had done she didn't and couldn't hurt the boy who hadn't become him yet.

James & the Doctor, James was...a really unbalanced character in many ways, mainly when it came to Marina and how he could manipulate her even before the Doctor. There always seemed like there was something...not quite right about him, even when he was the sweet, reclusive boy she thought he was. Even his own brother could see it. I get it, with his parents, and then Nate but he was on a spiral well before Nate and that tipped him over the edge. The way the doctor wanted. James really didn't have a chance, until the end, and he was redeemed.

The Doctor was ruthless, and it was a little hard imaging how James would become him- at the beginning, and then you can see. He was determined and made sure he got what he wanted. He tortured and murdered, he changed things that wasn't his to change just because he could, and because he liked the power of playing God. The final reveal that changed everything, was really shocking and cold-blooded, and you knew there was no way back for the Doctor.
The science fiction parts, which I won't go into too much detail because the whole paradoxes thing, when fully thinking about it outside the book makes my brain a little numb and freaks the crap out of me, but the whole detailed explanation of it really, really intertwines well, and wasn't just a means for the romance. Yeah, there's romance, and it is so freaking heartfelt that my heart ached for Em at the end with Finn, but I'd like to point out, as much as it was the strong part of the book, it didn't feel like it took over the whole thing.

All Our Yesterday, if nothing, poses a lot of questions. It makes you think a lot, should you change things, just because you can? The effect it can have, if you just change one thing. Is one life worth more than another's? By killing some, to save more, is it worth it? Is it good?
From the beginning I knew it would suck me in so I tried to take longer with reading, and I did- a little. 2 nights, 3 days, which normally it only takes me 2 days, and as much as I wanted to finish this, I didn't want to, and the first thing I do with any book, is go straight to the back to see the ending. I don't like surprises, which is weird, right? Anyway, I didn't with All Our Yesterdays, and I guess I done that because from the beginning you know Em and Finn's mission is suicide. The beautifully bruised, broken, but strong and enlightened people they are now, would be gone as soon as they do the one thing that would change the world, the future, and them. I didn't want to see that conclusion, and it broke my heart.

Em and Finn broke my heart, future Finn's conclusion broke me. I know at the end it righted itself, and the hint of Marina and Finn, but I mourn for the Em and Finn that risked their, love, lives, and friendship for that world they wanted, and maybe Marina and Finn will still fall in love, but the thing that bound them together never happened, and what got them to that Em and Finn, will never exist. I hate the fact that even though technically, they're not gone, they are gone.
Even more, I hate the doctor for that, too.

By far the best book I've read this year. You need to read it.

Rating 5/5