Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review: Yesterday by CK Kelly Martin

CK Kelly Martin
Publication date: September 25th 2012
by Random House

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.
*A copy was provided by Random House Canada for review purposes*

Set in Ontario, Canada, it was fun to read a book with its setting only hours away. They exist but I rarely have stumbled upon a book set in Canada (hence my love for Kelley Armstrong novels). It gave me a delightful reading experience, which made up for some of the qualms I had about the disjointed storylines in this novel.

Yesterday begins with a very enticing prologue. We get thrown into a confusing, but thrilling scene where we originally meet Freya, while raising a lot of questions, it sets an excellent mysterious tone for the rest of the book. Once the true story starts, we're in 1985, where Freya is a regular teenage girl, except now she feels like her memories are hazy. Something's going on, and it's very hard to put a finger on what.

It's 1985! Being an 80's baby, it was entertaining to get a setting that I was raised in. The style, the non-technological lifestyle, it was nostalgic to a simpler time, and quite original for a post apocalyptic novel to actually happen in the past. Yes! A post-apocalyptic, with time travel! This premise, definitely very original, is filled with mystery and action that easily keeps you turning the pages frantically to find out what's happening, how they ended up in 1985, and how they're going to survive. Because of the prologue, we know something big happened to Freya before she got to the past, and it's agonizing, maybe even a little frightening, to not know what the heck is happening. Finally, when we do get some answers, it can be a bit overwhelming. All of a sudden we turn the page to find ourselves into an immense info-dump where all of the future world building gets thrown at us inside the span of a few pages. It's still interesting, highly detailed, but it being such a sudden load of information, you barely have time to make any sense of it. Furthermore, the future world we learn about is extremely different with incredible scientific advancement. What's hard to believe is that it is said to be only 40 years in the future. I may be proven wrong and in 40 years we'll all be able to regrow limbs and only have sex in a virtual reality, but I found a lot of it inconceivable, and, thus, less compelling. I'm fine with unlikely, I'm fine with fantasy even, this is, after all, a fiction novel; however, it's the author's job to suspend my disbelief effectively, and in this case it was not. Once we get the low down on everything that has occurred, it basically becomes a high speed chase. Very action-packed and filled with tension; constantly on the run with Freya while still mind blown over what we learned about her past (or future..?).

When I learned it had strong time travel elements I was a little concerned. As time travel can be very tricky, I'm not easily persuaded by it. I think if you look at it in an entertaining point of view, it clearly fits the bill with twists that are equally surprising and intriguing. But when you put any thought into it, it's a different story. I was not very satisfied with the way the time travel aspect was set up. Hypothetically, If you change the past, you won't get to be in the same future that made it possible for you go back to change the past in the first place. Did I lose you? This is called the grandfather paradox, and it's a recurring problem I had more than once in this plot. Time travel is not an easy venture; you have to really work it well (Ie. Dr Who, Back to the Future, Butterfly Effect). This one unfortunately left me feeling underwhelmed with the lack of any forethought on its implementation. Yes, I am picky when it comes to time travel. It is what it is.

With its peculiarity of juggling several genres and several major plot elements, you get a very original book, sure, but I'm not completely convinced it all fits together, and if it does, it isn't seamless. It's even hard to decipher what the book wants to be at times. A dystopian? A time travel romance? A contemp with some sci-ci elements? It has a LOT going on which, again, is great for an action book and clearly kept my interest throughout, yet I can't help but feel it was a big mess.

The romance is also an aspect I'm not sure how I feel about. They do have chemistry and make a great team as main characters, but I couldn't help but feel a lot of awkwardness coming from them. As if they're constantly walking on eggshells. Some of it does have to do with the circumstances of their lives I'm sure, not to mention the high speed world building that didn't show the reasoning for her infatuation with him to begin with. At least the relationship grows slow and steadily, making it feel more genuine. There are a couple of scenes that are very mature for YA as well - just a heads up.

As you can see, I have very mixed feelings about this one. On one hand I really enjoyed the overall effect of a fast paced, exciting book with great twists, but on the other hand I'm not sure if I will really remember any of it for very long. It's like cramming for a test, you may ace it, but retake the test in 2 days and you will most likely fail miserably. Where am I going with this? I have no idea. My mind is as jumbled as this book.

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