Felicia Yap’s novel ‘Yesterday’ was published in the UK last week, on 10 August 2017. I read it as an ebook in June, free from NetGalley.
This novel starts with an unusual premise, that people are divided into two categories, Monos who possess a 24-hour memory, and Duos who can remember everything for 48 hours. Rather than class, gender or race, society revolves around the differences between Monos and Duos, with Duos being seen as more intelligent and generally superior to Monos. From this come rules restricting what grades of job a Mono can apply for or aspire to.
People remember ‘facts’ by writing them in their iDiaries every night before they can forget them. These facts seem to be memorised very easily and that is how people function and understand their lives.
This intriguing fantasy is segued with a thriller plot: Yesterday is a murder mystery. It is also an exploration of memory and how we understand the world, the narratives we tell ourselves, and an examination of love and hate.
So far so fascinating. Yet I am awarding this book only 3 stars because of the way it is written. The narrators of the book are the four main characters, yet I found their voices to be much the same voice (with the exception of one very sweary account). I am of course speaking of my personal taste but I found the writing clunky, and overly laden with adjectives – for example this is what one character says to another:
‘The figure was moving about with an ethereal, feline grace that could only be feminine. Yet she was also circling the room in a slightly agitated manner; she resembled a hungry, desperate panther. I squinted; she was clad from head to toe in midnight black. A sinuous sable scarf concealed most of her face.’
This sort of overwriting partly spoils the book for me: it slows action, defuses tension and, well, irritates me.
Yet still I awarded the book 3 stars. It is a great story.