Thursday, August 9, 2012

Joint Review Discussion: Yesterday by CK Kelly Martin

For the third month in a row, Michelle of Galleysmith and I are doing joint review discussions. These are more in-depth than my usual reviews and discuss plot points in a non-spoilery way. We'll post about a different book every Thursday, and our second book is YESTERDAY.

Publisher's summary:

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.

Michelle and I decided to discuss four topics: Genre classification, Awesomeness, Romance and 80s nostalgia. The first two we discuss below, the second two we discuss over at Galleysmith.

Genre Classification

This is a book that defies easy genre classification and if you were to go into this story entirely pure and unspoiled, you wouldn’t even want to remember that I featured it during Dystopian August. I mean, ok, you do know something’s not quite all 1985 thanks to a prologue that has distinctly futuristic undertones, using phrases such as “memory wipe” and “force field”. So what exactly is going on? I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough wanting to figure it all out.

See that’s interesting to me, because I very clearly felt the sci-fi vibe. It has some dystopian and post-apocalyptic undertones but the gist leans towards the scientific in a variety of ways. I found myself comparing it most often to Pearson’s Jenna Fox books. The tone (with the robot technology, the way the world works, and the characters in it) all had that same feeling to it.

No, I totally agree about the sci-fi vibe (and the comparison to Jenna Fox’s atmosphere is apt) and that of course becomes much more clear in the last ⅓ of the book. We talk about this in more depth later, but the first third of the novel mostly concerns Freya trying to fit into her new life and new high school but having the itching feeling that something’s off. Some of the scenes in this section could totally be from a contemporary novel imho. Oh and then she goes on the run, and you’re suddenly in a mystery/thriller.

I struggled with the scene setting but agree that (with the exception of the prologue which sets a futuristic tone) the beginning of the novel definitely felt more contemporary. I almost wonder if the book would have been better without it and we went into the whole thing blind and were experiencing everything without the expectation set by that knowledge. I do think that not having a firm single genre classification opens the book up to a wider audience which is good.


YESTERDAY has “Lenore book” written all over it. It contains so many elements that I love (most are spoilers, sadly) and even the tropes or writerly crutches that might seem groan-worthy at first are cleverly employed. For example, Freya is one of those girls who doesn’t realize her own attractiveness and the boy she’s inexplicably drawn to, Garren, is described as looking like a green-eyed Greek god. BUT - there’s a real explanation for this and once you know the plot twist, it makes total sense. Also, the scene where Freya finally finds out what’s really going on is a mega infodump. But it’s an infodump that works perfectly in the context of the story.

OMG, see I had huge problems with the amount of information in this book. There was just SO much all the time. As a girl who grew up in the 80’s all the pop-culture references did draw me into the story but I felt like there was an awful lot of telling in the first two-thirds of the story. It wasn’t until that last third that I really enjoyed the story. That was about the time that the whole of the plot started to reveal itself and I finally had the opportunity to tie some things together. I fall short of awesome here but thankfully that last bit of the book did save it for me.

I didn’t mind the amount of telling in the first part of the book because I trusted it was going to go somewhere awesome, and IT DID. I personally loved the way the details started to add up and I got a little shiver nearly on every other page because of some song, or some mention of a trip, or some aspect of the storytelling or worldbuilding that I found so, so cool (like the stage performers of the future - so very clever + fits with the story). I wish we were doing a spoiler review because OMG I want to talk about the twist at the end so badly. It was just so fun and so crazy and so heartbreaking. Perfect.

Why can’t we do a spoiler review? lol

My problem is that I tend to need some action up front to keep me going. That we didn’t get much early on was a struggle for me. Knowing that something big was coming is what kept me going. I’m glad I did and ultimately found the book enjoyable but that was because of some of the twists (like with Garren, Freya and their grandfathers) that I totally didn’t see coming. Martin did a great job setting the scene, no question, and she did a great job with the surprising twists. In that way I liked the book tremendously.

Well … maybe we can do a spoilery discussion separately if people want to talk about it? Let’s see a raise of hands in the comments!

Don't miss the rest of the discussion over at Galleysmith!

YESTERDAY comes out in hardcover on Sept 25, 2012. Visit the author's website for more information.

See index of all dystopian reviews at Presenting Lenore

FTC disclosure: I read this galley via NetGalley.


Christina said...

Oooh, I'm just starting this one. I'll have to come back and read when I'm done. Maybe share my thoughts in the comments, so I can pretend to be as cool as you guys!

Zibilee said...

I would kind of like a spoilery review, as I don't know when I will get the chance to read this one, and am really interested in all this information dumping and the huge twist at the end. Very intriguing review. The way you guys discussed it really makes me want to read it!

Kailana said...

I think I will have to add this to my wish list. Your discussion sounds really interesting!

Alyce said...

I just finished this book and I loved it! My question is, will there be a sequel? Because there is so much that I want to know about their future and what happens (how things change/if they change).