Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

All Our Yesterdays
Author: Cristin Terrill
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Published: September 3rd 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository
"You have to kill him." Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

Out of all the books I've read in 2013, All Our Yesterdays has been the biggest surprise by far. I decided to read this during my Thanksgiving weekend because a few people recommended it to me, but I didn't really know what it was about and I didn't really have any expectations. If anything, I was probably a little hesitant to read it since the topic of time-travel didn't really interest me. Wow. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this book.
"You're the best, Mike," I say, and when he walks away, I add him to the list of people I hope I never lay eyes on again.
In one sentence, it's about two prisoners, Em and Finn, who escape a military base and hijacks a time machine to travel back into the past to kill the man who started a devastating war in future America.

  • The opening.
    The first chapter of a book can be very important to me. Most people usually give themselves a 50% mark before deciding to give up on a book that doesn't interest them, but if a book doesn't grab me right from the start, then it's very unlikely that I'll continue reading it. I had no problem getting hooked onto All Our Yesterdays from the very first page. Who knew drains could be so captivating? Who knew reading about Em's obsessions with drains could be so interesting? In an interview, Cristin Terrill said her favorite scene was the first one, and it shows. 
  • The moral dilemmas discussed.
    Do the ends justify the means? Would you sacrifice the lives of a few for the lives of many? These are some of the loaded questions that I still have trouble answering, and I love that Terrill attempts to tackle them in the book. Somehow, the discussion works especially well in a tale about time-traveling where every little change in action has a consequence in the future.
  • Speaking of time-traveling...
    I'm up for a dystopian novel once in a while, but I'm rarely interested in books involving time-travel. I find that a lot of young adult science fiction/dystopian books have trouble with comprehensive world building, and I feel that adding time traveling and paradoxes into the mix would just make a book even more confusing and less enjoyable to read. Luckily, Terrill proved me wrong, and while there were still a few questions left here and there, the plot was easy to follow. If you're like me and completely new to time-travel books, I'd definitely recommend this one.
  • Love, love, love.
    Unsurprisingly, there is a love triangle between Marina, James, and Finn, but I actually didn't mind it for several reasons. For one, it didn't feel like something just thrown in to cause trouble between the main pairing, and it actually worked well with the plot. Just because you fall in love with someone else doesn't mean that you're automatically completely over everyone you may have loved before. Otherwise, this could have been a very short story. Also, the time-travelling also a whole other dimension (hehe) to the romance. You basically know the endgame from the beginning, and it made it easier for me to invest in that pairing knowing how they interact when they're in love with each other before I even knew how they even met. Everything unfolds pretty nicely.

    Love triangle aside, my favorite "relationship" was actually just Em and her love for herself. Em even explicitly states that the one person she loves more than James and Finn is herself, and I find that touching when we often find that that's not the case for most people, in fiction or in real life. Especially in real life. 

  • Nothing
    There's nothing that I really disliked about this book unless I was really nitpicky. For example, I wish there was a little bit more character development from James and Finn, but I suppose with a sequel on the way, we'll be getting a lot more of them next. On the other hand, I'm not sure how I feel about a second book. All Our Yesterdays would have been a great standalone book, and I'm a little afraid that a sequel might undo some of the parts I loved about the first one, especially when time travel is involved and it is possible to rewrite scenes. I just have to cross my fingers and hope Terrill knows best.

  • Loved it, recommend it, and I can see myself rereading it.

  • Young adult/Sci-Fi fans
  • People new to the time-travel trope
  • People who already love time-travel stories
  • People who want an atypical love triangle


  1. Oh wow ... so this sounds pretty awesome!
    I'm still such a Dystopia buff (I actually mentioned in my latest review how I'm still not tired of the genre, even though others seem to be).
    This sounds great, combining so many things I love in one; a futuristic pot-apocalyptic kind of world, flawlessly crafted characters AND time travel?

    Won't lie - I'm a bit concerned about the love triangle. I'm really not an advocate of those BUT I'm guessing this is with one guy and two girls? If so, I could be swayed since I rarely ever see that in YA and it's a nice break from a girl having two ridiculously perfect guys lusting / fighting over her :/

  2. I really hope you enjoy it! But honestly, I think a big part of the reason why I enjoyed All Our Yesterdays so much is because I had no expectations going into it, so I hope I didn't raise your expectations too high. ><

    Unfortunately, this book is still a two guys, one girl love triangle, but rather than guy v. other guy, it's more like guy v. girl's lingering unrequited crush of other guy.

  3. I'm not much of a dystopia reader, but this sounds like an interesting book. I've seen it all over the place lately. I think I might just have to give it a go, futuristic stuff aside. From what you've said, I might actually like the time traveling and the post-apocalyptic world. And some romance is never a bad thing, right?

  4. Dystopia can definitely be a hit or miss, but I really hope you enjoy this book. Definitely try giving it a chance!