Yesterday by Felicia Yap

Yesterday is a high-concept thriller, set in a world where no one’s memory lasts more than two days. The majority of the population are “Monos”, who retain all memories before the age of 18, and just a single day’s worth of short term memories. “Duos” are luckier – they remember up to the age of 23, and have two days short term memory to play with. Everything else is based off the facts that people record in their diaries every night and strive to learn.

I was intrigued by the concept, and especially by the premise of a murder mystery set in this world. I would have liked much more world building. How do people in professions cope? Especially doctors, who yes, have time to fit in five years of medical school before the memory shut down, but must have to learn every other development thereafter as “fact”, alongside all elements of their personal lives.

The novel doesn’t really address this, although we are presented with a Mono detective who strives to pass himself off as a Duo, and feels pressured to solve his cases within 24 hours. One of the main characters is a novelist, and the text notes that books in this world only take around four hours to read – which still seems like a supreme waste of time given the memory restrictions.

The characters here were widely dislikable, especially the victim, who is blessed with a full memory. It never felt believable that she’d spent seventeen years in an asylum before having to be told by another inmate that the way to release was just to pretend to be a Duo and resume writing in her diary. For all the extra insight she was supposed to have, surely that would have been obvious?

Few of the novels “twists” are surprising, and the detective is often lagging behind the reader in terms of realisations, which can be frustrating. Still, it’s a really interesting concept, and this is only Yap’s debut novel – I’ll be interested to see where she goes in the future.

Sincere thanks to Wildfire for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.

[Read from 21-22 July 2017]

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