Holy cow– it’s September. I meant to blog more over the summer. However, I was too busy swimming, walking the dog, vacuuming dog hair from every corner of my house, feeding baby goats, visiting old friends, visiting old family, attending my 30th year class reunion (yeah, I’m that old but it’s okay, because so are all my former classmates,) watching my kids do flips off the diving board, etc… Now it’s September, though. No more excuses.
Fortunately, today I get to review Yesterday, by C. K. Kelly Martin, (2012, 352 pages.) I had a tough time putting this dystopian novel down. I was immediately sucked in by the idea that the main character has time traveled from the future to 1985, but due to having received a “memory wipe” has only a slowly growing awareness of this fact.
Summary from Goodreads:
THEN: The formation of the UNA, the high threat of eco-terrorism, the mammoth rates of unemployment and subsequent escape into a world of virtual reality are things any student can read about in their 21st century textbooks and part of the normal background noise to Freya Kallas’s life. Until that world starts to crumble.
NOW: It’s 1985. Freya Kallas has just moved across the world and into a new life. On the outside, she fits in at her new high school, but Freya feels nothing but removed. Her mother blames it on the grief over her father’s death, but how does that explain the headaches and why do her memories feel so foggy? When Freya lays eyes on Garren Lowe, she can’t get him out of her head. She’s sure that she knows him, despite his insistence that they’ve never met. As Freya follows her instincts and pushes towards hidden truths, the two of them unveil a strange and dangerous world where their days may be numbered. Unsure who to trust, Freya and Garren go on the run from powerful forces determined to tear them apart and keep them from discovering the truth about their shared pasts (and futures), her visions, and the time and place they really came from.
I liked the first half of the book, when Freya is trying to figure out how she knows Garren, better than the second half. However, like many readers I would have preferred the prologue to the book not give so much away. Wondering if a character is crazy is always a nice tension, but in this book although Freya thinks she might be crazy, we know she isn’t.
I haven’t read many dystopian novels so perhaps I’m not as critical as I might be, but I found the bleak future described in Yesterday so nearly believable, especially the amount of time people spend in the alternative computer reality known as “gushi”. It was a lot of fun comparing this vision of the future to our era.
I graduated from high school in 1984 and am sappily nostalgic, so I of course loved that the book was set in the ’80’s. I ate up the pop culture references, generously sprinkled throughout the book. Having the book set in the 80’s lent the story a bittersweet feel for me. The world is getting increasingly complex, and things were simpler then. (Sigh.) In other words, the author had me at “mix tape”.
One of my favorite parts of the book was when Garren and Freya had to hide out in another family’s house while they kept a low profile. As a teenager, how much fun it would be to rummage through strangers’ cupboards for food and their closets for clean clothes to wear!
One quarrel I have with the story is that the two main characters are too perfect, especially the male lead, from his name (“Garren”), to his hair (wavy, black), to his strength, (borderline superhuman), to his personality (patient and brave).
Minute scratches on the plastic cover of the copy I got from the library make it impossible to see anything more than a blurry eye of the face as pictured above. Perhaps the design is a little too subtle. There is a companion book to Yesterday, entitled Tomorrow.
For another fine review of this book, go to the book blog of Jen Robinson.
For many awesome middle grade book reviews, check out this Marvelous Middle Grade Monday meme hosted by the talented Shannon Messenger.