Book Review

Yesterday by Felicia Yap


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?

Upon hearing the premise for Yesterday, my initial thought was that the mono (those who remember yesterday) and duo (those who also remember the day before) memory system would make an excellent pseudo class system, and I was delighted when this proved to be the case, especially as it’s so well handled.  Whilst all people keep a diary, there are obvious advantages to being able to remember two days ago when others around you can’t.  And that additional day of memories makes the duos feel inherently superior to the monos, resulting in monos often being treated as second-class citizens.  Whilst being a mono doesn’t mean that you are stupid – you just have to be more meticulous with your diary – you are looked down upon, and certain jobs are biased towards duos, leaving more menial roles to the monos.

This may make the novel sound as though as it has a vaguely sci fi edge to it.  It doesn’t, although I think that there is something vaguely dystopian about the set-up, which I loved.  But, the world in which it’s set is much like ours, other than the way in which memory works.  This set up allows Yap to hold a mirror up to our world however, turning things, if not on their head, then around by 90 degrees.  For example, Steve Jobs’ big innovation is not the iPod or iPhone, but the iDiary to help both monos and duos record the goings on in their lives, allowing them to easily refer back to previous events when required.  I loved these little details, and thought that they helped to bring the world to life.

As with many thrillers, Yesterday has a plot that is difficult to discuss without giving too much away, so I’ll keep this brief.  One morning, a young woman is pulled out of the River Cam.  There are few signs of a struggle, and the police believe it to be a suicide, with the exception of DCI Hans Richardson, who believes that something more sinister has occurred.  And if solving a murder is difficult, then solving a murder within the timeframe of your limited memory is even more so, even with your diary to help you.  Told from multiple perspectives, the plot moves quickly and there are some wonderful twists to keep the reader guessing.   

I absolutely adored Yesterday, and I thought it was a highly accomplished debut – it’s a novel that I resented having to put down when real life rudely interrupted.  If you can accept the premise upon which the novel is pinned – that of limited memories – I think that you will really enjoy this highly inventive thriller.

Yesterday will be published on 10 August by Wildfire.  Many thanks to Millie Seaward for the proof.

Rating: ★★★★★


  1. I just read this book last week, and it’s a great premise with a spectacular concept. I had a few problems with the book which led to me giving it three stars, but my issues were either after the fact overthinking, or my editor-eye wishing some scenes had been handled better to allow for more interpersonal interaction.
    But overall, it’s an inventive book and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for Felicia Yap in the future.

  2. I love this book, I had a few issues with the setup itself, but that was all me “after the fact” and trying to figured out how to explain the finer points of this vaguely dystopian setup. Plus, I just thought a couple of scenes could have been handled better, but overall I really loved it and it is a great debut. I would definitely look for other books by her in the future.

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