CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 3 . . . . September 21, 2012
Have you ever read a book in one sitting? Have you thought, "There is no way this book can give me one more twist?" only to have that twist come along as slap you in the face two pages later? Yesterday, by C. K. Kelly Martin, is just such a book. The novel opens in the middle of a disorienting moment in which Freya Kallas is being taken away from her home by the SecRos (security robots) and is, moments later, put to sleep. After this abrupt prologue, the reader will find Freya once again, but waking up in 1985, with a headache, experiencing strange dreams of a world that she remembers more vividly than her waking reality.
Martin weaves a wonderfully dystopian tale of deception, betrayal, and heartache as she takes her readers on a journey through the past and the future, at once showing them the destruction of a nation and the rebuilding of a species. Freya is the protagonist of this narrative, trying to explain to her unseen audience as well as herself, why certain things in life just aren't quite right. During a field trip at school one day, Freya comes across a young man she is certain she knows, but she has no idea how this could possibly be so. After stalking him for some time, she discovers that she did indeed know him at one point in time, but convincing Garren of this is a whole other matter.
Bringing together elements of political intrigue, ecological disaster, romance, thrilling chases, and time bending, Martin has crafted a truly wondrous and unique fictional tale. With the exception of one particularly long diatribe about the future, brought about by a hypnotherapy session, the story is fast, lively, and intriguing from beginning to end. Truth and deception are always fighting for the headline in this riveting tale of survival, a tale that is at once true for a young boy and girl as well as an entire species trying to make up for past mistakes and attempting to bring about a brighter future for mankind.
Yesterday will appeal to adolescent males and females with its blend of romance, suspense, intrigue, and science fiction elements. The novel is complex without becoming unraveled, and intimate while being accessible to younger audiences. Martin uses crisp, emphatic prose to bring her characters and settings to life, bringing forth the 80s in a way that is accessible to those who grew up in the 90s or later. But for those older readers, such as myself, the novel is wonderfully entertaining and true to my lived experience. Yesterday is a beautiful piece of fiction that should be devoured, but also savoured.
Rob Bittner is a graduate of the MA in Children's Literature program at The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. He is currently a PhD student in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at Simon Fraser University.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.