Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Yesterday by Felicia Yap

By Felicia Yap
Published by Wildfire Books (10 August 2017)

Publisher's description
There are two types of people in the world: those who can only remember yesterday, and those who can also recall the day before.
You have just one lifeline to the past: your diary. Each night, you write down the things that matter. Each morning, your diary tells you where you were, who you loved and what you did.
Today, the police are at your door. They say that the body of your husband's mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago.
Can you trust the police? 
Can you trust your husband? 
Can you trust yourself?

My verdict
Yesterday is very different from the norm. It's a traditional murder mystery that's set in a dystopian society - a cross between fantasy and crime. A debut thriller that's sure to do well this summer and beyond.

In Yesterday, society is split into two tiers - monos and duos - based on their memory capacity (one day or two) as they grow up. Monos are deemed as inferior to duos and given more lowly jobs, yet many strive to improve their status. Everyone has to make sure their digital diaries are as in-depth as possible to 'remember' past events. Some memories can be learned and memorised as fact. The reliance on technology means it's easy to manipulate the past, creating 'false' memories and therefore 'false' facts. Not easy, then, if you're trying to investigate a murder.

The plot focuses on a rare mixed marriage, between duo Mark and mono Claire. When a woman is found dead, she has links to Mark. Can Claire trust her husband? On reading her own diary, can she even trust herself? And will Hans, the police officer investigating the crime, discover the truth?

The dystopian society isn't that dissimilar from our own, filled with prejudice, infidelity, secrets and lies. It's more a parallel society than an alternative one, with some clever references to companies and industry figures that we're all familiar with. I found this fascinating and would love to know more about how the society worked, in terms of structure and jobs and building personal and professional relationships.

Yesterday is a fascinating exploration into memory - how it shapes us, defines us and directs us - and also into social divide. The complex plot is an intriguing murder investigation, based mainly on diary entries and with several twists. The story alternates between four characters' points of view. I didn't particularly like any of the characters (Hans, the detective, was the most likeable for me), but then it's not easy to get to know them that well due to their limited memory spans. They can't really get to know each other that well either, which creates the tension and unease.

What made this book so different for me is the concept of investigating a murder when no one can remember much of the past. It's a perfect thriller for the big screen, with its high concept core and focus on technology. I reckon, like many of the bestselling psychological thrillers (Girl On A Train, Gone Girl, Before I Go To Sleep, to name just three), it will create much discussion among readers in years to come.

I received an Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher.


  1. Agree with you - it will be a book to discuss for a long time, which is always good! Great review!