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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 59/100: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

All Our Yesterdays - Cristin Terrill

I got this book through AudiobookSync a summer or two ago, and I didn't really know what it was about other than that it was another dystopia in a glutted market. I did not know it was a time travel dystopia, and at first that made me nervous. Although I like time travel stories, sometimes the paradoxes just hurt my brain too much, as does the science of it. I also don't like time travel stories where we have to watch the same thing happen again and again.

This book is not one of those time travel stories. The mechanics of time travel are only given passing mention, and although paradoxes exist, they are not the kind that make your head hurt.

Mostly, this is a book about the relationship between three teenagers -- James, the eventually inventor of time travel, his best friend Marina who is in love with him, and his pal Finn. Finn and Marina keep time traveling again and again trying to stop James' invention of time travel, until they come to the conclusion that the only way to stop him his to go back in time and kill him. This is not easy for them to do -- although Marina despises James in the present, she loved him in the past -- and it is the past one she is tasked with killing, the one who has not yet done anything wrong.

Because the book focuses on the unfolding of the human drama, it's easy to follow even for those who aren't time travel nerds. In some places the human drama seemed to be a bit of overkill -- there were moments when it felt drawn-out, and the failed attempts to assassinate James began to get a little old. Although I found all three main characters to be fairly well-developed and likable, they also felt a little YA love triangle generic: the funny one who uses humor to hide his emotional struggles (making him secretly sensitive), the boy genius who has a darker side, and the girl caught between them who feels overlooked/unloved by her parents and self-conscious about whether she is popular or pretty enough.

The one thing that is a little hard to follow in this book is whether "past Marina" or "present Marina" is narrating. I think this would be less of an issue if I hadn't been listening to it on audiobook -- all it took was a couple of seconds for me to daydream, and I may have missed a transition. Usually context allowed me to orient myself pretty well, though. I also felt like the exact unfolding of how the world got so screwed up from James' trips back in time could have been more deeply explored, although I liked the inherent commentary on The Patriot Act and the over-surveillance of the American people.

I think this book would make a good movie, and I liked the way it ended. The ending even made sense to me, paradoxes and all. All in all, an enjoyable read that I probably wouldn't have experienced without AudiobookSync. Thanks, Sync!