Book Review

Future Perfect by Felicia Yap

What if today was your last day…

A bomb has exploded during a fashion show, killing a beautiful model on the catwalk.  The murderer is still at large… and he may strike again.  Yet this is the least of Police Commissioner Christian Verger’s worries.  His fiancée Viola has left him.  He has to keep his tumultuous past a secret.  To make things worse, his voice assistant Alexa is 99.74% sure he will die tomorrow.

Moving from snowy 1980s Montana to chic 1990s Manhattan to a drone-filled 2030s Britain, Future Perfect is an electrifying race to solve a murder before it’s too late.  Yet it is also a love story, a riveting portrait of a couple torn apart by secrets, grief, and guilt.  A twisted tale of how the past can haunt a person’s future and be used to predict if he will die… or kill.

I loved Yesterday by Felicia Yap and have been excited to read Future Perfect – her second novel – since its release in 2021. 

Told from multiple perspectives, Future Perfect is a novel that moves along at a rapid pace.  There are a lot of moving parts as you come to grips with each of the key characters, their backstories, and what makes them tick.  Christian is the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and he’s a character that I really like.  Somewhat unusually, he suffers from imposter syndrome, and this was unexpected from someone of his age and position.  In a work of fiction it is, frankly, unexpected of a male character, even though I’m aware it’s something that affects men and women equally in real life.  It’s just not something that you see that often in fictional men.  Most seem rather blasé, happy to wing it if needed, but Christian seems very conscious of himself and has doubts about his abilities that’s refreshing to read.  He seems all the more human for it. 

And Christian isn’t perfect, as highlighted by his fiancé, Viola, who has recently decided to “take a break” after one argument too many.  We come to understand from Viola that Christian has secrets – even from the woman he loves – and that these revolve around a mysterious “Ella”.  It’s a little difficult to know whose side to take on this.  On one hand, I’d be more than a little put out if my other half started muttering another woman’s name in his sleep.  That said, Viola has her own secrets, and seems to be looking for perfection, even while acknowledging her own flaws and foibles.

Most chapters are clearly labelled as to whose perspective you’re reading, although there’s no chance of confusion – each character has a distinct voice and it’s obvious from the context which character you’re with.  There are also a small number of chapters that are told the separate point of view of an unnamed individual.  These chapters show this individual in the 1980s as a child, almost an adult, in a dysfunctional home setting, particularly when their mum’s new man proves abusive to them both.  These sections are brilliantly done, and the subject matter is handled sensitively.  I don’t want to say too much, but I think that these chapters challenge common assumptions as the reader comes to understand more about this character and their relevance to the novel. 

Like her debut, Future Perfect is a novel with a speculative vibe, taking the technology that we have today and extrapolating to see where we might be in 2030 with increased integration of technology in our homes and lives, but also with a strong emphasis on software that predicts your behaviour.  There are elements to this that are amusing.  Christian gets up one morning wanting nothing more than an espresso, only for his coffee machine to spit out a cappuccino, based on the fact that that’s what he had for the prior 29 days.  I guess that algorithms and machine learning aren’t always able to cope with the random decisions that humans sometimes make.  Christian seems to be a in a constant battle with Alexa, and it does add an amusing edge to the narrative. 

There is a darker side to this, however.  It’s already possible to see the way that technology is taking over our lives and the way in which many people are increasingly dependent on it.  It’s something that – while often useful – can have a negative effect on people and their mental health.  Extrapolating the technology ten years into the future, this becomes even more apparent as the technology becomes so integrated into people’s lives that they can hardly do anything without some kind of assistance.  I took it as a warning to enjoy the convenience that stems from technological advancement, but to also avoid becoming overly dependent upon it. 

The novel moves at a rapid pace as Christian, Viola, and others seek to prevent a potential bomb at a London fashion show following a sabotage in New York the night before.  It’s a race against time and I loved the way in which the police investigation – led by Christian – is undertaken.  He’s not out in the field given his position, but has to get involved, conducting interviews with the relevant individuals before heading to the show.  These testimonies highlight the rivalries you get between people at the top of their field, whilst also showing the way in which memory is flawed and becomes distorted over time.  It’s exciting without being heavy on action which is saved for the denouement.

Future Perfect is a fantastic novel and one that I highly recommend. 

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