Felicia Yap’s Yesterday is another debut fresh out of Faber and Faber’s famous London course.
It is advertised by the idea of solving a murder, when only remembering yesterday. This tagline caught my attention and I think it is a great idea, however to me this novel sadly didn’t work.
The novel is set in a world where people can either remember last 24 hours, making them Mono OR last 48 hours, then they are Duo.
A woman’s body is found in River Cam. It doesn’t take the police to link it with the married couple living near by: Mark and Claire. The novel is told between multiple Pov’s. Hans the policeman is posing as a Duo but he is a mono and needs to solve a murder in a day. Claire is trying to understand. The dead woman is telling us her story.
Story started really interesting but then became slow, and repetitive. I will go by numbers to be tidier -otherwise this post might be messy.
1. Do our characters really not remember?
Several times through out the story people discuss or think their memories from well before 2 days.
I began tying my bow-tie, squinting at my harried reflection in the mirror. It struck me, then, that my forehead had acquired a few more lines since Claire broke the news about her pregnancy.
This happens on 8th of July, and the ‘news of pregnancy’ is at 4th. How can a Duo, who is suppose to remember the last 2 days only do that? Shouldn’t he has to check their diary first? Also, how does he remember the lines of his forehead- does he keep track of them in his diary? Am I missing something ? Does this remembering only 24/48 hours really work as it is told. There are several conversations in the book referring past. I found this confusing.
Why are Duo’s superior? Is remembering last 1 day or 2 days that important?
I couldn’t get past thinking this. Duo’s can remember last 48 hours where Mono’s can only remember 24. Why on earth is this important when the most you can remember is 48 hours. Why does it matter? I am just thinking if I remembered what I ate or whom I met with just yesterday or the day before as well, would that really make a difference, when everyone had to keep diaries in any case… Not really, eh?
Also, why does Mark need to solve this in a day? He can write in his diary and read it next day like the rest of the murder detectives -who cannot remember more than 48 hours anyway…
3. The lack of atmosphere
How in a world of permanent memory loss, people can hold their university degrees(if they go to uni after age 23), write novels? What if they write lies to their diaries? There was no details of Yap’s world, no atmosphere in the book. The reader is expected to adopt the rules of this world and accept them as they are. If I am reading a book that is classified partly as sci-fi I would love to see a bit more depth to the world that’s being told.
4. The repetitions
There were some repeats that you want to say: OKAY, I GOT IT!
One example was Hans’s oath to solve the murder.
I’m going to establish the identity of her murderer before the day’s end. Mark my words, Mr Evans. I will.’
Ok Hans, we got it. You have to solve it.
5. Sci-fi is only a touch.
There is the telling of how the memory-loss happens, when you’re 18 or 23, enzymes etc, but not enough sci-fi elements there. There is also sections in between the character’s tellings, trying to describe how things work out in this alternate world, but I wouldn’t say this is a sci-fi crime novel, but rather say it’s a Crime with a touch of sci-fi.
I am sorry this turned out an harsh review. I tried to be honest. I don’t think this is a bad or an awful book. Overall it was okay, but definitely not a phenomenon. I would like to read Felicia Yap again.
My frustration is mostly with all the praises, when they compare the book with this and that, swore how great a book it is, and then you buy it and get disappointed. I have been tricked into buying a lot of books, because someone was swearing it’s the NEXT GONE GIRL.
For the love of reading, dear publishers, please stop comparing books with Gone Girl and Girl on a Train. Honestly! We had enough.
Please do comment if you read this book, and if you think I am being an idiot here and missing something crucial with this book please tell me.
Thanks to NetGalley and publisher for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.