Yesterday is a science-fiction, dystopian time-travel novel. Following a particularly bad incidence of bioterrorism resulting in a dangerous plague, Freya Kallas is evacuated. What she doesn’t immediately realize is that she’s been evacuated not only to a different location, but to a different point in time. The UNA has made sure that her memories have been securely replaced. However, they missed something crucial, something that makes Freya very unique. This mistake is the thread Freya Kallas needs to tug to begin to unravel her life in 1985.
After moving to Canada, Freya can’t help but feel that something is wrong with her. Her memories of her past experiences and relationships feel far away, not detailed like they should be. She suffers from severe headaches and things that shouldn’t be foggy in her mind certainly are. That is, until she sees a certain boy during a school field trip. She knows this boy. She’s more sure of that than she is of anything else in her far-removed life. However, he insists that they’ve never once met. It is up to Freya to determine the connection between them, and why it feels so much more vivid and important to her than any of her other memories. What she finds may be the most dangerous thing for either of them, but she just has to know.
Overall, I liked the book, but I did not love it. From the outset, there was something about the writing style that bothered me. I can’t put my finger on it, but it was a niggling nuisance throughout my experience of the novel. The plot was interesting. I liked the dual timelines, and learning along with Freya what occurred in her past (future) in bits and pieces. The novel offers entertaining thrills and scary messages about the possibility of an outright bleak future. Having this undesirable future as a back-setting lent the book a tone of “the future can be a frightening place, if we let it become that way.” Other things I liked about the novel were the events toward the conclusion, and the relationship between Freya and Garren. I felt that the relationship between the two was rather well designed. Freya’s feelings toward Garren are strong but don’t ring false. Garren’s reactions are realistic and in tune with his character development.
So, why didn’t I love this book? First, the style of writing never let me get as fully immersed in the novel as I could with an author whose style jives with my expectations and preferences. Second, the beginning was very hard to get into. I don’t mind novels in which I don’t really know what is going on, but the combination of a slow pace and being unsure of anything at the start was a little bit difficult to get past. I enjoyed the exploration of Freya and Garren’s relationship but I felt that the author could have done a lot more with the developments toward the end of the novel with regards to Freya and herself and Freya and Garren. It felt like a big bomb was dropped on both of these characters, and the reactions seemed emotionally stunted on both their parts. If it had been me, I would have been really focused on what happened. Also, the explanations surrounding the time travel aspect felt forced, and didn’t develop organically.
Overall, I’d recommend it to fans of time-travel novels and fans of dystopian fiction that are looking for something a little different. And I believe an enjoyment of young adult fiction is important, because the book is not written on a level I would consistently associate with adult fiction. So, if you’re a fan of young adult dystopian/time-travel science fiction, go for it! You may just fall in love.
This book was obtained freely from the publisher, Random House Children’s, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.