The “him” is the boy she once loved, when she was Marina, rich and spoiled, living next door to an even wealthier family with two sons, the brilliant young politician-in-waiting and his shy, geeky but gorgeous younger brother. He invented a time machine and the only way to prevent dreadful things happening was to travel into the past with it and stop it being invented by killing him. Of course, this means that she and Finn, too, will cease to exist…
Em is in a cell next to Finn, a boy she cares about, but hasn’t seen since they were locked up. The Doctor has been torturing them to get a vital piece of information. And in a hidden place in her cell, there’s a piece of paper from a future self (or is that past?): “You have to kill him.”
Time travel novels are great fun, even when they’re meant to be serious. You always wonder how the next author will deal with all the paradoxes time travel would cause. In All Our Yesterdays (Disney-Hyperion) you can tell that author Cristin Terill has thought carefully about it and worked on the consequences. In the context of this novel, at least, she convinces me. She has also played with all the cliched tropes — you mustn’t meet your past or future self or the universe will explode or some such — and poked her tongue out at them, in the middle of a dramatic scene.
One cliche Terill does hang on to is the one where the heroine has a choice of two gorgeous boys, but in this case, the reader knows from the beginning which one she will end up with, just not how.
What I particularly liked, as a fan of old-style SF, is that the mad scientist of this genre is given a background, a reason for turning mad and a time when he was a teenage boy and had family and friends who loved him. It’s a nice touch.
If you’ve read all those enthusiastic blurbs saying that this is for fans of The Hunger Games, forget it; it’s not remotely like that book, and I have yet to find a book that is. Those blurbs just cash in on the fame of the other book and don’t do justice to either. It’s a bit like comparing every fat fantasy saga to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings when there’s nothing quite like it.
With that said, All Our Yesterdays is an enjoyable book and well worth reading. ◊
Sue Bursztynski lives in Australia, where she works as a teacher-librarian. She has written several books for children and young adults, including Crime Time: Australians Behaving Badly and the YA novel Wolfborn. Her blog The Great Raven can be found at http://suebursztynski.blogspot.com.
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