My rating: 2 of 5 stars
“Yesterday” was my first read from C.K. Kelly Martin, and it’s one of those reads that has a brilliant premise shaping the framework of the story, but the overarching execution leaves much to be desired. I did not like the structuring of the story or the writing in this very much. That’s one thing I have to be honest about from the get-go in this review. I wish that it had better streamlining and engagement for the story it was trying to tell – it could’ve made the experience far more intimate without all the telling of details and info dumping that occurred in the early part of the story. It jumped awkwardly in many places without really needing to and there was no ease of transition between the present day (mostly functioning within the environment of 1985) and the future. This is certainly a time travel story – coupled with a romantic flare and a bit of discovery of identities in a sci-fi environment. I don’t think Martin made use of the elements she brought to this novel as much as she could have. It’s frustrating because I really liked the overarching story contained in this work, and there were certainly moments where I followed along with the story with ease and interest.
To speak a bit about the story itself, it revolves around a young woman named Freya who suspects that her life isn’t as it seems – the relationships she’s built, the time she lives within, and the death of her father all take a toll as she adjusts to her school and home life in the aftermath of tragic events. Yet things become very complicated when she meets a boy that evokes a sense of deja vu within her, and triggers visions of something she can’t quite grasp. She meets with him, only to have disasterous results at first, but then a revelation comes to be that sends them both reeling and on the run for their lives and their futures.
Sounds intriguing? That’s because it really IS an interesting story for a time, but the way it’s presented comes in series of jagged frames. The prologue is a presentation of escape occurring within the future – that I could get behind fine. It was the chapters following that I couldn’t wrap my head around. Freya, at first, was portrayed as a very static protagonist and it took forever to move through her narrative – I couldn’t sympathize with her. She had many baseless suspicions and I just couldn’t get behind them with the way the story “told” this information – it had no due intimacy. The presentation of the 1985 environment was rather underwhelming – favoring scattered mentions of TV shows watched and music references without providing any intimacy to the time in which it takes place. It’s unfortunate because there were many opportunities I think Martin could’ve played around with that element and really brought home the environmental and time details.
When Garren comes into the picture, the ball starts rolling a little more, but it comes in the form of cliched elements, at least until the big revelation hits about their connection, and then I finally, FINALLY had a point to connect with the story. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t kick off from that point until nearly 50% into the novel, and that’s a long delay. Easily, I think many pages could’ve been shaved out of the 120 pages at the beginning of the novel to help move it along. From that point, for a time, the story engages in a wonderful chase sequence. When the time jump and realizations are made, it doesn’t come with potency because it’s shortchanged by the massive amounts of info dumping about the world Freya used to know, and the revealing of her true identity and losses are lost for impact. I did, however, find that the latter part of the novel came more smoothly than the initial part. I didn’t like how certain parts of the story threads were dropped entirely, and the lack of closure I felt despite a decent ending.
I truly believe there could’ve been more to “Yesterday”‘s overarching story if it were given more “show” than “tell” in its narrative, had a better structuring of its presentation, and better intimacy towards its time specific elements – though when it was all said and done, it did provide an interesting rollercoaster in spurts. I just wished it amounted to more than what it was.
Overall score: 2/5
Note: I received this ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Random House BFYR.