Published by Mulholland Books on August 1st 2017
Genres: adult, mystery-thriller
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How do you solve a murder when you only remember yesterday?
Imagine a world in which classes are divided not by wealth or religion but by how much each group can remember. Monos, the majority, have only one day’s worth of memory; elite Duos have two. In this stratified society, where Monos are excluded from holding high office and demanding jobs, Claire and Mark are a rare mixed marriage. Clare is a conscientious Mono housewife, Mark a novelist-turned-politician Duo on the rise. They are a shining example of a new vision of tolerance and equality—until…
...a beautiful woman is found dead, her body dumped in England’s River Cam. The woman is Mark’s mistress, and he is the prime suspect in her murder. The detective investigating the case has secrets of his own. So did the victim. And when both the investigator’s and the suspect’s memories are constantly erased—how can anyone learn the truth?
Told from four different perspectives, that of Mark, Claire, the detective on the case, and the victim—Felicia Yap’s staggeringly inventive debut leads us on a race against an ever-resetting clock to find the killer. With the science-fiction world-building of Philip K. Dick and the twisted ingenuity of Memento , Yesterday is a thriller you’ll never forget.
Oh boy, where do I start? Let’s start with how I acquired this book. Little, Brown was kind enough to send me a copy for review, as it was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017. Most of my anticipated reads for 2017 have been fabulous, so I was hoping for the same with Yesterday.
But it just didn’t work for me at all. So where did it all go wrong? Let’s start with the world-building, because world-building in books like this is incredibly important. Swiss cheese. So many holes. I understand what the author was trying to accomplish, and in theory this book sounded like a fabulous idea, but it just didn’t work in execution. And the thing is, I don’t think I blame the author’s writing for this at all, because the writing was lovely and well-constructed, and there were no other clarity issues in the prose.
So the background in the world is this. People fall into two categories: monos or duos. Monos can only remember one day of short-term memory, and duos can remember two. For some reason one day is a huge deal, and duos treat monos like they are the dregs of society. They mostly work menial jobs, while duos run for government office, are celebrities, authors, etc.
The story is told through FOUR POVs. So if you hate multiple POVs, I would probably avoid this book, even if I do think they were mostly well done. There’s Claire, a mono, married to author Mark, unhappy with her life, and she wants to be a writer but she keeps it a secret from her husband because he thinks monos aren’t capable of that kind of depth. Then there is Mark, a duo, a bestselling author, husband of Claire, and serial adulterer. There’s Sophia, Mark’s mistress, and the murder victim. She spent 17 years in a mental institution and she’s looking for revenge against those who wronged her. And finally there’s Hans, the mono detective trying to solve the murder in 24 hours. Hes masquerading as a duo, so he has to keep it a secret from his assistant that he has to solve the crime in 24 hours.
Honestly, reading what I wrote above. it sounds like it could be a pretty suspenseful book. But I don’t think it is. It started off well, even though I had many issues with the world-building (more on that in a minute), but I tired of it and lost interest fast. The writing wasn’t suspenseful and a good portion of it was spent in diary format which has almost always read detached and clinical for me.
Okay, so about the world-building. I wouldn’t say there were plot holes, per se, but I would more or less call them logic holes. I REALLY had to suspend disbelief to imagine a world where people were arguing over whether they had one day of memory or two. They all kept diaries, and supposedly studied these diaries so they could retain facts of their lives, but not as memories, I guess remembering events like you would an algebraic formula. And it was just…a bit ridiculous, honestly. The mystery itself was interesting, and I think it would have worked better as just a straight thriller/mystery without all this unnecessary science fiction stuff that didn’t make a whole lot of sense. After a while you could just go with it, but it wasn’t an easy process. I think the thing that bothered me the most was Hans trying to solve the case in 24 hours. Like, honestly, what murders are actually solved in 24 hours, and the fact that he managed to do it was just so far-fetched to me. The fact that characters in the book had to pull a random diary to look up a specific date in their lives to remember what they did on December 15th, 1997? Just unnecessary.
If someone asked me to describe this book in one word, it would be “unnecessary.” It’s getting a lot of hype, and I guess I get it because it’s unique, but I am betting it will not live up to most people’s expectations. It certainly did not live up to mine.