Yesterday, by C.K. Kelly Martin, for Timeslip Tuesday

This review of Yesterday, by C.K. Kelly Martin (Random House, YA, 2012), is something of a spoiler by necessity--I am, after all, reviewing it for Timeslip Tuesday.  But the time travel element is pretty obvious, so I don't feel dreadfully bad.

In the world of 2063, shredded by environmental catastrophe, the rich and powerful still manage to live a comfortable life full of virtual enjoyment.  16-year-old Freya is one of these lucky ones...until her life implodes when her brother falls victim to a new and deadly plague.

In 1985, a girl named Freya has just moved back to Canada after her father's death in New Zealand.  Grief and the culture shock of starting at a new school in a new country are enough to make anyone feel that life is vaguely unreal, but for Freya, this feeling is not diminishing with time as it should.  Her memories all feel distant and shallow, and nothing seems right.  And at night, the dreams come, full of vivid horror....

And then she encounters Garren, boy who she thinks, or rather, knows, she once was close too.  Even though he has no clue who she is, she knows there is some link between them.

Turns out, Freya is right, and there were secrets back in 2063 that changed the course of her life, and Garren's too.  And there are people in 1985 who will do whatever it takes for that course, now that it is set, to remain unchanged.  With  Freya, and then Garren,  remembering their real past lives in the future, they are both in danger.

Yesterday is a slow build-up of suspense-even though it's fairly obvious that the two Freyas are one and the same, Freya's own journey to this realization is a gradually accumulating nightmare.  The first half of the book was perhaps a tad too slow--we aren't in any doubt as to Freya's feelings of disconnect because we are told about them plenty--but the whole ensemble works well enough.  Those who enjoy suspenseful speculative fiction involving teens on the run from bad guys, falling in love as they struggle to survive, will doubtless enjoy it. 

That being said, though this is clearly a time travel book, the time travel is to a certain extent a deus ex machine that allows the story to exist.  Although as Freya recovers her memories (in a truly unsubtle information dump), she is struck by the contrast between the two times in which she has lived,  the dislocation between those two lives has been soothed by mind wiping such that there isn't a huge feeling of cultural dislocation (one of my personal favorite elements of time travel).    And the explanation for the time-travel came out of left field right at the end, introducing whole new bits of possible plot.   Only at the very very very end does the time travel set up produce a real ZING!, which made me a bit sad because that whole story that we don't actually get to read about sounded much more appealing than the story I'd just read....

So I didn't mind reading it, and found the premise interesting, and now that we have gotten the slowish bit of realizing what has happened out of the way I'm rather interested in the sequel, Tomorrow --but it just wasn't quite the book I'd hoped it would be.


  1. Oh man, that feeling when there's a book that you would much prefer almost there . . . it's weird how different people are attracted to different elements of story.

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