Yesterday by Felicia Yap

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“How do you solve a murder when you can only remember yesterday?”

— Felicia Yap, Yesterday

    The memories we have can play some sneaky tricks on us. Two individuals can remember completely different things about the same event. Based on their experience, their angle, their perspective and their intentions, everything can be seen differently. It can get quite complicated when you realize that some things last longer than others. The mind can go ahead and retain information that you never thought you’d remember and then decide to forget the things that you so desperately need to know. Felicia Yap however has something much more simpler, yet so much more devastating to offer us with Yesterday. In this parallel universe or alternate reality, the world is classified into two categories: Monos and Duos. The difference, you wonder? Monos can only remember up to 24 hours, while Duos have the blessing to remember up to 48 hours. In this world, Monos are seen as an inferior, although numerous, class compared to the elite Duos. It is thanks to their unique little iDiary that everyone is able to remember their past. Or at least what they want to remember.

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    This is a story that revolves around four characters whose lives will cross paths when a woman is found dead and floating in England’s River Cam. Alternating between all four point of views, Yesterday presents us with the story of a unconventional married couple whose marriage goes against everyone’s beliefs: a Mono and a Duo together. As impossible to conceive as it may to be to the world, Mark, a novelist-turned-politician, vouches to show the world that this type of marriage is the future, right until he finds out that the dead woman is in fact his mistress and things are about to get quite shaky in his relationship and his career. You’d think that a thriller with a touch of science fiction will surely blow our minds away by bringing us a world that is completely believable and original, but unfortunately Felicia Yap’s debut is a thriller with incredible promise, but poor execution. As inventive and captivating as the premise was, the book never managed to grasp the full extent of its ideas or breath enough life into it to come out as sensational as it could have been. The writing style was also unremarkable, although it definitely helped in making this story fast-paced and easy to follow.

    The world-building is definitely the biggest downside in my books. Having a world filled with individuals who could only retain up to 24 or 48 hours of their lives before the reset button is pressed is absolutely enthralling up until the point where you realize the author barely even explores the idea. Although there are random one-page-long pieces telling us about scientific advancements related to the memory of mankind or the iDiary, these little bits of world-building quickly disappeared from the narrative as soon as the thriller side of things kicked in. Never do we truly understand how this world came to be and how people survived before the iDiary was brought into the game. Never are we told how people lose their memories after 24 or 48 hours. Never do we know about the people who don’t write down facts to remember the next day. What happens if a Mono forgets to write down his or her day, doesn’t feel like writing down his or her day or simply forgets to write down his or her day? If people can only remember the past 24 hours, do they have to read through their whole diary since their earlier days in order to know who they are and what they do in life? Is it a complete tabula rasa every time they wake up or are there certain things that they’ll always remember? If so, how come certain things stay in our mind while others are forgotten? So many questions can only mean one thing: bad world-building.

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    Even if the science fiction side of things failed to prosper, you’d think that the thriller of side of things would come compensate for the short-comings. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really the case. Every character in this book felt unidimensional and lacked originality or even development. At the end of the day, this book offered some sort of revenge porn that simply failed to keep the intrigue and excitement high. It definitely didn’t help when the reader was given a free pass to a plot twist through one point of view only to see see it again in another point of view. The mere idea of suspense was quickly thrown out the door for me and it honestly never managed to climb back in. I also thought the direction was a bit too easy and sometimes overzealous. Even if it might not mean anything, I was able to guess what was going to happen because I had a feeling that Felicia Yap was going for plot twists in her story and the easiest roads were what she would aim for. Yesterday is definitely a debut with promise, but it lacked in several departments. If you’re intrigued by its blurb and premise, give it a shot. It might suit you.


THANK YOU TO HACHETTE BOOK GROUP CANADA FOR SENDING ME A COPY FOR REVIEW!

Are you interested in Yesterday?
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★☆☆☆/

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40 thoughts on “Yesterday by Felicia Yap

  1. Resh Susan @ The Book Satchel says:

    I own this book and read a few chapters after hearing the hype about the book. I was not as impressed as what the other readers seemed to be saying. Like you, I felt the premise had a lot of potential but it does not go deep enough.

    I kept the book aside. Maybe I will give it a shot after a small break. And if it still does not work for me, then I guess I should move on to the next book.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Inge | The Belgian Reviewer says:

    Sorry to hear it wasn’t as good as expected, but then I have a feeling you pose more questions and expected it to go a bit deeper than most readers ;-). I don’t know if I’d want to know more than what’s on the surface, I’d have to read it to find out ;-). I’m not into sci-fi but this one still appeals to me, probably because it’s not very other-worldly :-).. it’s an original take on the popular amnesia-theme that you see so often now and that’s a plus. I do like a bit of a challenge though and if you call this an easy plot twist than I’m pretty sure I’d feel the same. It’s a maybe for me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Hahaah, could be. Although I still feel like it could’ve been far better. It could’ve easily had an outstanding world and a solid plot-twist-filled storyline. I do agree than that the sci-fi twist brings a new angle to the whole amnesia plot device used in thrillers. It’s why I thought the premise seemed so amazing. I do hope your experience with it will be far more rewarding and fun when you get around to it! Thanks for reading, Inge. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lauren Busser says:

    I read this book a week ago, and I loved the premise, but you are 100 percent right about the world building. The bits we get are intriguing, but at the end of the book, I had SO MANY QUESTIONS! I wanted more diary entries in between the pages, I wanted bits of other crimes. I wanted legal defenses where short term memory was a factor. It could have fleshed this whole story out so much more!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    When I first started reading your review I was nearly hooked on this book. It sounded like a really interesting story and like you I was grabbed by the idea of people who could only remember 24 or 48 hours of their lives at a time. Then I saw what you said about how the book was poorly executed, especially in terms of the world building, and I was disappointed as well.
    When it comes to fantasy/sci-fi reads, for me, the world building is the most important aspect, and it sounds like it could have been developed much better in this book.
    Great review Lashaan, although it’s a shame Yesterday wasn’t quite what you’d hoped it would be. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Hihih I didn’t want to start the review with too many bad things to say. I actually wanted to reproduce the whole “betrayal” I felt when I picked up this book. Sounded so promising and good based on premise and how things kicked off, but as I progressed, it was losing its grip on me. I do agree. World-building is crucial. Even if the sci-fi part of this book is pretty small, it still remains a parallel world that has similarities to ours, without being futuristic. It should’ve been a priority to make the world-building more crucial than it was to the whole story. It could’ve easily went down as a classic thriller story. Thank you, Beth! I appreciate your thoughts!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

        Well you definitely managed that in my opinion, I did feel really disappointed when I got to the part of your review that started on the negatives of the story because I was excited about where the book would go without even reading it.
        There have been books I’ve read before where the world building hasn’t been well done. It’s definitely crucial in any book that isn’t contemporary I feel.
        That’s all right. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Meggy | Chocolate'n'Waffles says:

    I AM DYING TO READ THIS! (that’s why I just shouted at you :p)
    Well… It was until you said the potential was not explored and the promises not delivered!!! Nooooo!!! I mean, the blurb is so enticing, and the ideas are original, so why????? There’s so much to do with this story than just stay on the surface!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Yeh. You’ll never see me sugar-coating anything. Honesty is the best policy. 🙂 This book could certainly satisfy other readers, but I personally thought it failed to truly exploit its full potential. With a premise like that, I’d be praising the hell out of it if it had actually managed to deliver something well-executed. Thanks for reading, Nikola. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Zezee says:

    Aw that sucks this didn’t work out. The concept sounds interesting though and when I read in the first paragraph, it made me curious about how the author would pull it off. It sounds tricky but that’s disappointing that it wasn’t explored much. The whole remembering stuff for only 24 or 48 hours is what would interest peeps to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Exactly. Sometimes we all have crazy good ideas, but it’s the execution that really decides how great that idea is in the end. I feel like she just decided to skim through the idea for the sake of having something original in the background. Would’ve been nice to have it more fleshed out.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sophie @ Blame Chocolate says:

    It’s so disappointing when an author doesn’t explore her own ideas enough. Feeling like you never get to figure anything out can really hinder one’s reading experience and I simply hate when I get more questions than I get answers (unless everything is revealed in the end and/or there’s a sequel to explain things – which doesn’t seem to be the case here). After all, there’s only so much frustration I can bear.
    The fact that both the SF aspect AND the thriller aspect failed is a major red flag. I get that this is a debut and there’s a lot of room for improvement but that’s no excuse. There are tons of amazing debuts out there that prove it’s possible to come up with a great book on your first try if you prepare it well enough.
    Again, so sorry this was such a mediocre read and I hope you find something way better soon. As per usual, epic review, Lashaan, and I look forward to reading more from you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Yep, indeed. It really felt half-baked and mushy by the end of the book. I wish she had made the world-building much more important to a story with such a premise. I mean, it wouldn’t have been an issue if it didn’t have the whole sci-fi side with its parallel universe thing, but it did, and it just didn’t succeed at delivering it fresh and succulent.

      The marketing really makes it sound like the next big thing too, but I was sadly not impressed by it. First or last novel, the should really take the time into building it all up in order to release a solid novel. I’m starting to wonder if I should be weary of authors who have had a bunch of VARIOUS jobs (i.e. They’ve been a biologist, a journalist, a fireman, a baker, a marathon runner, a librarian and a soldier) in their lives and decided to try writing a book now hahahah

      Thanks Sophie! Even if it wasn’t that great, it’s nice to read books with potential that don’t turn out so great just to remind ourselves what a “bad” book is once in a while hahaha

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie @ Blame Chocolate says:

        Hahaha you know, sometimes those kinds of jobs can really bring something interesting to the table! I’ve read stories where the author’s knowledge on other subjects did make it a much more enriching experience. But yeah, sometimes it might be a complete fail as well xD
        I agree, it’s fine if it’s just one bad book once in a while… The problem is when they multiply hahaha
        And you’re welcome! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

          Hahahah exactly! It’s how I saw it at first. Thinking that these were authors with a lot of valuable experience that could potentially be useful for any story they ever decide to write. Then again, I also see those with such a varied background, but still very young themselves. Which makes me wonder if they simply just haven’t found their true calling and explored various different fields to find themselves. Hopefully, authors with a bunch of experience will be able to make the best use for it. 😛 I was kidding about it having anything to do with the quality of their book though. People can write AMAZING stories without having lived countless years doing countless things. 😛

          Liked by 1 person

          • Sophie @ Blame Chocolate says:

            Hahaha don’t worry, I got it 😛 I just thought I’d mention my experience and how it’s not always the case, but can be! Certainly is, more often than not…
            And you’re right, nowadays it’s so easy to experiment new trades and get out of your comfort zone, I doubt anyone sticks with only one job for the rest of their lives. A few decades back it would have been unthinkable, unprofessional even, but I do quite enjoy this modern fluidity. It’s not all roses, though, as it means there’s more instability (something our parents didn’t really have to deal with). But it’s what we have right now so might as well make the best of it 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  8. Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks says:

    The premise is amazing, the cover is amazing… what a shame it didn’t deliver! Sounds like it mostly lacked the sci-fi bit, huh.
    Sometimes I wish someone else did “a cover” of a book like that! You know how sometimes covers of a song come out better than the original? THAT. Because wasting this premise just seems so sad.

    Liked by 1 person

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