Friday, 18 August 2017
Yesterday by Felicia Yap
review by Maryom
A body has been found in the river by Grantchester meadows. The coat pockets laden with pebbles point to suicide; the bump on the head says otherwise. So the police begin investigations - but things are tricky in a world where the majority of people can only remember the events of yesterday, and the pressure is on for a speedy resolution.
This book starts with an interesting premise - that most adults only retain memories of the previous day, the lucky few remember two days - then throws in a murder mystery, but it soon lost its hold on me as it turned into a fairly predictable domestic noir.
Although the book isn't promoted as such, I'd expected a more 'sci-fi' take to the story. After all, a whole population coping with memory problems like that would surely be really weird. How did it develop in the first place? How do people cope from day to day? Would staying awake for long periods (perhaps with the help of drugs) keep someone's memory intact or is time the factor that governs this strange condition? And how can you hope to solve a murder when the facts will start to slip away from witnesses' minds at the end of the day? The aspects which intrigued me most weren't addressed as the book is much more murder mystery than speculative fiction, and as for coping day to day, well that's solved by the use of diaries - filled in every night to make sure important events and feelings are remembered, and read every morning to convert 'memories' into 'facts' which are never forgotten. To be honest, I felt these characters probably had a better grasp of what happened last week, by referring to their diaries, than I have with only a memory to count on!
I also found it a bit bizarre that events took place in what feels like a familiar setting, Granchester Meadows - I half expected Sidney Chambers and his entourage to show up and help solve the mystery!
If you're reading this as another domestic noir, you'll probably like it well enough, but I'm not particularly fond of the genre, and, comparing it to other fiction involving memory loss, Yesterday didn't have the tension of SJ Watson's Before I Go to Sleep, total world immersion of Emily Barr's The One Memory of Flora Banks or the grittiness of the Christopher Nolan film Momento.
Maryom's review - 3 stars
Publisher - Wildfire
Genre - domestic noir, adult fiction