Yesterday, by C.K. Kelly Martin

C. K. Kelly Martin's novel Yesterday opens with a prologue set in a dystopian version of 2063, but after six drama-stuffed pages the action shifts to Ontario, 1985, a (possibly even weirder) world full of New Wave music, enormous shoulder pads, and MacGyver. Martin's protagonist is Freya Kallas, a 16-year-old girl whose diplomat father recently died in an explosion. When her mother moves the family back to Canada after years of living abroad, Freya assumes her intense headaches and strange sense of disorientation are due to stress and grief... until she meets a boy who feels impossibly familiar, and realizes that everything she “remembers” is a lie.

I really enjoyed Yesterday, even though it features time travel (my genre-fiction nemesis). Thankfully, the sci-fi/fantasy elements are kept to an easy-to-swallow minimum. Martin's dystopian future is established in three consecutive chapters, and her explanation of time travel is even shorter: in this world, time travel is one-way only, and happens via a magical lake in Canada that spits out travelers seventy-eight years in the past and straight into a lake in Western Australia. (Plus, the futuristic stuff is livened up by a quick description of the music scene in 2063, which relies heavily on illegal Chinese clones of famous dead musicians, like a solo artist created by making a hybrid of all five members of the original Supremes' DNA.)

Sadly, the dark, generic cover art featured on Yesterday was a mistake. Any book featuring an 80s setting, a Bourne Identity-style induced amnesia plot, and a dystopian future is obviously a rare beast, so I sincerely wish the publisher had chosen something that did a better job of emphasizing Martin's originality. (Like... one of the members of Wham! transforming into an evil robot, maybe?) However, it also seems like it would make a spectacular teen movie, and the ending is just open enough to leave room for a sequel, so maybe one day Martin's novel will prove popular enough to merit a new cover—one better-suited to such a vividly imagined book.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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