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Yesterday: 09/26/12

cover art

Yesterday by CK Kelly Martin is a YA science fiction that's part dystopia and part time travel. Freya wakes up in 1985 after escaping from something awful in the "not to distant future" (with apologies to MST3K). Except, 1985 Freya has no memory of what she has escaped from, believing instead that she and her mother and sister have recently moved to Canada after her father's accidental death.

What begins, thus, as a high action, in media res, dystopian science fiction, settles into being a rather drab YA angst fest set in 1985 — I suppose for the adult women who are feeling nostalgic and like to read YA fiction. Sure, I fit that bill and yes, I can assert that the details are convincing for it being 1985 but I'm not sure how all this attention to detail is going to play with the intended readership. I'm not saying that today's teens can't or won't get something from reading books published in previous decades but this book reads like nostalgia — and not a period piece. And it's nostalgia for a decade that was over for years before today's teen readers were even born.

Eventually, though, Freya begins to get her memory back. She sees a boy she thinks she recognizes — Garren. After stalking him until he's forced to give in to her craziness, they realize that something is, in fact, amiss with the stories they've both been told. This realization finally heralds the return of the long missing action.

But wait, there's more! Two thirds of the way through the book, when things should be moving towards either a resolution or the set up for a cliffhanger, Yesterday goes into info-dump mode. Rather than being filtered through Freya's point of view (as the rest of the plot before and since), the narration moves into third person omniscient and we are given pages and pages and pages and pages and pages (yawn) of the history between 1985 and the future year that Freya and Garren are from. After that were told why people are sent back in time and Freya and Garren have to decide wether or not they want to play along with their newly assigned roles.

Up until this point, I really expected 1985 to be some sort of Matrix-style simulation. There are parts where Freya and Garren are too easily found and their piece of Canada seems much too small and much to simplistic to be the real thing. Time travel, though, for me, doesn't fit.

For better versions of the same story I recommend:

  • "Phineas and Ferb's Quantum Boogaloo" from season 2 of Phineas and Ferb
  • Back to the Future II
  • Meanwhile by Jason Shiga (a CYBILs winner)

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 00:39:02


I like your idea of a Matrix-style simulation. As someone who did not experience the 80s, those parts were really lacking for me and my overall assessment was "meh."

Comment #2: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 23:09:03


Thank you for your comment. It's a shame the book didn't live up to the strengths of its first few chapters.

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