Date Published10 August 2017
Price£ 13.99


by Felicia Yap

There are two types of people in an alternative reality: Monos, who can only remember yesterday, and Duos, who can remember the last two days. In a taboo marriage, Mono Claire marries the famous Duo author, Mark. When a body is discovered in the River Cam, their life is torn apart by the ensuing investigation.


Yesterday is written with the interesting premise that, in an alternative to our reality, in contemporary time, humans have lost the capacity for short term memory. From the age of 18 they become either Monos, who can only remember what happened yesterday, and Duos who can remember the last two days. Everyone relies upon their diaries, which they complete every day, and which, since Steve Jobs invented them, have been replaced with iDiaries. Memories are earned as facts but the only evidence of their existence lies in the carefully stored dairies.

Monos are viewed as lower caste than Duos, and when Mono Claire marries Duo Mark, the result is that Mark’s family disown him. Mark is a successful author, whose books must be read in four hours because otherwise memory loss means that the reader would have to start again.

A body is discovered in the River Cam, close to their house. Apparently the woman has committed suicide by weighing the pockets of her overcoat with stones. Hans is a Mono police officer who pretends to be Duo to avoid discrimination, and who must race against time to solve the murder in one day, the limit of his memory. His investigation exposes Mark’s dishonest past. The question is whether or not the family will survive the investigation.

When I first started the book, I felt that it was rather derivative, in that it reminded me of various dystopic science fiction books, particularly Noughts and Crosses and the Stepford Wives. I persevered and found that my perception was wrong. The concept is new and interesting and allows the plot to explore the nature of facts and memories and the consequences of living in a world where no one has long-term memories. By the end of the novel I felt that Yap had made excellent use of her principle and I hope that she continues to write about this reality.

Reviewed 16 September 2017 by John Barnbrook