Review: Yesterday (Martin)

AUTHOR: C.K. Kelly Martin
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: Random House
PUBLICATION DATE: September 25, 2012
ISBN: 9780375866500
PAGES: 368
SOURCE: SLJ review copy
GENRE: science fiction

SUMMARY: It’s 1985, and Freya Kallas does not understand why she feels so disconnected from her own life and family. After her father’s recent death, Freya and her mother and younger sister move from New Zealand to Canada, where Freya was born. But nothing feels right to Freya, and she has no idea why she has terrible headaches or why she seems to know things that have not yet happened.When Freya sees a boy one day on a school field trip, something clicks, and Freya swears she knows him. She follows him home, and the two slowly discover that their lives are entangled in ways they would have never expected.

REVIEW: Once again, I am so thankful to be an SLJ book reviewer. SLJ introduces me to new books that I might not choose to read on my own. The Goodreads rating on Yesterday is currently pretty low (3.41 average for 110 ratings), and I put off reading it for a couple of weeks because of that low rating. I found the publisher’s summary confusing, which did not make me want to read the book. With my deadline looming, I finally jumped in. I went into it unenthusiastically and with very low expectations, but…

There was a George Orwell quote on the very first page (a great start since I absolutely ADORE Mr. Orwell), and…

It reminded me of Rachel Ward’s Num8ers trilogy (I LOVED Num8ers), and…

I am SO GLAD I read this! I loved the unique storyline, the run-for-your-life action, the emotionally-cautious romance, the twist at the end. Yesterday is very different from other dystopias flooding the YA market these days. While it starts out in the year 2063, most of the book takes place in 1985. It is a slow-building page-turner; while some parts are more for explanation (particularly the part where Freya remembers her past), these parts are necessary to the story and give insight to why Freya and Garren are being chased. I love how the reader gets answers only as Freya gets them. Freya’s confusion is the reader’s confusion, and that works very well for this book.

The ending comes to a nice stopping point, but it leaves all kinds of loose ends for the sure-to-come sequel. I loved all the 80s music and cultural references, and it is nice remembering a time when we weren’t all so “connected” every second of the day.

As for the low Goodreads rating, I have no explanation for that since I do not read other reviews until after I write my own. My guess is that Yesterday is going to appeal most to fans of Rachel Ward’s Num8ers trilogy. The ratings for Num8ers is quite low also (as of today, it has the exact same 3.41 rating as Yesterday), but Num8ers is still one of my favorite YA books of all time. The books do have some similarities (female protag with special powers, a boy and girl on the run, a glimpse into the future, a really cool twist at the end), so if you liked Num8ers, I bet you’ll like Yesterday as well. Despite the similarities, the storylines are very different.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Maybe not for everyone, but I absolutely loved it. Features excellent Year 2063 world-building, realistically tentative romance, and lots of 80s music references!

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We don’t have it, and sadly, sexual content and frequent profanity make it too way mature for middle school. That’s really too bad because I know I could easily sell this storyline to my students.

READALIKES: Transcendence (Omololu); Ruby Red (Gier); Num8ers (Ward)


  • Overall: 5/5
  • Creativity: 5/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Engrossing: 5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Appeal to teens: 5/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5


  • Language: medium-high; includes a multiple f*** and sh**
  • Sexuality: high; two scenes with intense body exploration–neither leads to intercourse, but both are described in detail (two references to a “hard on”, naked kissing and touching); thinking and talking about sex (the only reason they don’t have sex is fear of pregnancy); virtual reality sex (not described in detail); parental infidelity
  • Violence: medium; some deaths (not described in detail), slavery, gun violence, armed robbery, virus leads to rabid behavior in humans (one scene where a teen gets “bitten into”)
  • Drugs/Alcohol: mild-medium; teens drink and smoke cigarettes at a party, talk of 60s psychedelic drug use (magic mushrooms, marijuana)

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