Sometimes, just sometimes, a book can actually surpass all your expectations! I bought it at Amazon's suggestion and was a bit dubious - I didn't want to get into the book just to be let down. I'd read too many books that promise me dystopia and end up being simply mediocre. But WOW All Our Yesterdays blew me away!
All Our Yesterdays struck me as such a cleverly crafted book. It takes place in two different time-frames: on the one hand you have Em and Finn, locked away somewhere where they are tortured by the doctor; then, a few years earlier we read the story of Marina, a popular girl completely besotted by her neighbour, the charming and super-intelligent James. Em and Finn somehow have to save the world, but in doing so they will end up crushing all Marina's dreams.
There's not much more I can tell you about the plot of All Our Yesterdays because it's one of those books where the fun is in working out what's going to happen. For that reason I also advise you to be careful about how many reviews you read - people have a habit of spoiling even small details that are so much fun to work out. Admittedly some of what happens - some of the great reveals - you may guess a few chapters earlier than you should, but that doesn't detract from the brilliance of this book. It's one of those books where you know you're in good hands: it feels carefully planned out, it's beautifully written and it comes with a pull that won't let you go. I think I knew from the first five pages I wouldn't be able to put it down; there are so many mysterious elements to both time-frames and the author reveals them slowly and gradually rather than all at once.
The characters in this book are brilliant and really well-developed. The story is told from the dual perspective of both Em and Marina which helps bring alive two very different and very distinctive characters. I loved Em and the boy in the next cell, Finn - you can't help but feel for them after what they've gone through, but at the same time they are so strong and resilient they become incredibly likeable. Marina, on the other hand, takes a while to warm to because while there are many aspects of her life that make you feel for her - the parents who are too wealthy and too busy to spend time with her, for instance, and the fact that she feels even her friends are only her friends because they're interested in James - but at the same time, she's one of those spoilt rich girls who generally doesn't have any idea what a hard life is like. But as the story goes on and we learn more about her, the more we see the good person she really is. Her feelings for James are also incredibly sweet, but that just makes the truth of it all even more heart-breaking. While Marina may be hard to love at the beginning, you will feel every crack in her heart by the end.
I really couldn't put All Our Yesterdays down. This is definitely one I'll be re-reading. There's no obvious path for a sequel, but I'd definitely be interested to read more from this world and these characters. In fact, I'd love to read a book that takes place between the two timelines - while we're given a few episodes from that time, about how the world went from the happy place that Marina knew to the tyrannical state that Em knows several years later, a book covering that time would be a brilliant read I think!
I absolutely loved this book and I only wish I could go back in time myself so I could read this book all over again for the first time!