Yesterday by Felicia Yap: Review

Man, I’ve had a hard time reading lately. I am an incorrigible mess of a person but moving back from BC to England threw me out of my routine far more than I ever could have imagined. I am however beginning to get back into the swing of things and this book was the first I finished since arriving back on the 1st September. It’s fast paced, engaging and unique and, for me has earned its Observer commendation of:

“The Thriller of the Summer”


Title: Yesterday

Author: Felicia Yap

Publication date: August 1st 2017

Pages: 352

Blurb: 

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?


Firstly, a very big thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

So, I’m just gonna jump right in here. Yap paints a picture of a world almost identical to ours, the only difference being the way individual memory works. There are monos and duos in the world: monos remember only one day prior, duos (the higher class) retain two days of memory. She clearly draws comparisons between cultural and class divides that have existed in our own society and makes political comment on not only how wrong they are but what a huge influence they have on progression and change. Ultimately the story is about the solving of a murder but the way it unravels the human experience is awesome and if you’re good at guessing plot direction please read this and tell me how soon you solved the murder.

I will admit I found this to be a slow starter for me despite its compelling tag line. Mostly I put this down to one of the main characters being so wholly unlikable. I didn’t care about Mark enough to want to read his story. Whilst he was clearly written this way deliberately Mark’s character was a dominant narrator early on in the book and it took me a good while to generate enough interest in the story to keep reading. Rookie mistake. Yap nailed this book and I’m so glad I pushed past my initial reservations about it. I give the likeability of characters way too much of a hold over my enjoyment of reading and I was converted by this one. Yap’s characters were complex and real.

The shifts between characters were well handled and worked seamlessly to create an intriguing and fluid story. It’s themes and messages lingered with me a while after I had finished reading. The way our perspective shifts alters how we view each of the characters as the story progresses. The more of the truth that is uncovered, the less black and white things become.

She addresses how memories and experience define not only our experience of the world but define us as people; how what parts of truth we retain control our perception of others. How love is intrinsically tied with memory and the value of truth. If you ignore the weirdness of the alternate reality she’s based the whole premise on, it’s brilliant – high concept and riveting. Actually, it’s all those things anyway – I truly admire Yap for this creation. Whilst her version of the world is flawed it is executed very cleverly and the mechanics of her memory crazed world are explained very clearly throughout. A concept that might have been hard to get your head round is handled beautifully and provides a fierce difference to the plot, opening up new possibilities for the boundaries of the story.

To be honest the real winning quality of this read was its sheer originality – it was unlike so many of its contemporaries and it had enough twists and turns to keep it from being predictable. It’s maybe not the genre I am most compelled by but that is something that, following *this* novel I may choose to adjust. I am, since reading ‘Yesterday’ more inclined to pick up a thriller. It’s unusual to find a mystery so intelligently disguised as this one. Yap completely made her own little niche in the genre with this one, combining elements of detective stories, relationship novels, social commentary and a sprinkle of what I might call dystopia. It’s more that she altered the real world rather that going full sci-fi and making something grand and new. The very slight change to society as we know it was extremely effective at changing the story’s whole dynamic – a feat I’m sure many writers find difficult to achieve.

Once I had it in my head (whilst I carried thoughts of it around for a while before picking it up again) I simply had to find a solution – I don’t think it’s a book you can be satisfied with without finishing. Seriously if you get stuck, really persevere with this one – it pays off I promise.  I hate DNFs as my Instagram followers will no-doubt notice, it often is the reason I get stuck in slumps – I’m obsessed with completion. This book *has* to be read from cover to cover to be truly appreciated and I’m 150% glad I fought past my jet lag and was able to truly appreciate Yap’s talent and skill for storytelling.

 4 out of 5

✩✩✩✩

It’s not my genre but it certainly was a compelling and intelligently written read.

If you liked ‘Yesterday’ try Linwood Barclay’s ‘No Time for Goodbyeflowers

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