Thursday, May 21, 2015

Repeat (and my love of time travel)

Repeat, by Neal Pollack
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication date: April 21, 2015
Category: Entertainment, Fiction
Source: I received this book from NetGalley in consideration for review.

Everyone has their favorite types of books and generally there are a few. Sometimes there is one type of plot that will draw you in every time. I have one of those...time travel. Or anything along the lines of time travel, such as repeatedly being born over and over, reliving life with or without knowledge of the previous lives. You know, the Back to the Future movies and books such as The Time Traveler's Wife, Life After Life, and The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. Why? I think it's because time travel - and how the author chooses to set it up - gives the plot opportunities to twist. And as I've said here numerous times, there's nothing I like better than a good plot twist or twist ending.

And this is why I requested Repeat from NetGalley the very first time I heard of its premise, without further detail. Brad is a washed out writer with a small family to care for. They live in a dump and upon hitting his 40th birthday, he has nothing great to claim to his name, except his family, who also seem like a burden at times. A total mess, Brad goes to sleep the night before he turns 40 with the aid of a "potion" his wife has concocted.

From that point on Brad is destined to relive his life from the womb, starting over the night before he turns 40. With each incarnation the world's history plays out the same, but Brad has a second, third, fourth, etc., chance to change his own previous decisions; therefore, changing the life he lives.

At what point does starting over become tiring? At what point do you start looking for an end? Ultimately, what is the point? Eventually Brad is faced with these questions and spends lifetimes looking for the answers. This is also the part I liked best about Repeat - there is a lesson being taught in it all. For those who would wish to know, there are some rough parts, where Brad talks about sex and such, that I didn't think were always as valuable to the story (although they fit Brad's character). All in all though it had a different tone (more laid back?) from the like novels I mentioned above and it did have the lesson at the end. I don't star rate books often, but in this case I think it helps clarify where I stand. I'd give this one three stars.

Your favorite plot set up readers?


  1. Jennine, I've never really given time travel much thought in fiction, maybe because I haven't read anything like it before. I do have Life after Life, which I purchased after there was so much hype, but I never got to it. I'm pretty sure i will enjoy it and the concept sounds interesting. What would I do if I could live my life over and over again?

    Today, a friend actually recommended a book to me, called "The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August", which she reckons are better than Life after Life. I can send you the link of the review if you want.

    1. I read Harry August from NetGalley right before it came out (my review is linked up in this review.) it didn't seem to make a big splash, but I agree with your friend - I think it was better than Life After Life. Harry August's story has more detail overall and a clearer purpose for the why of it all.

  2. Interesting! I'm not a fan of time travel novels, perhaps because I think there is often inadequate explanation of the time travel mechanics, but I do love stories where someone lives life or a day over and over. I think that type of plot can lead to a really interesting exploration of the consequences of the choices we make.

    1. I agree on the time travel I'm always looking for someone who has done it well. The Back to the Future trilogy of movies are my absolute favorite! And I think because the mechanics are done so well.

      As far as consequences to choices, that was the premise of this book. No matter what he did, he never influenced the global events, but learned about himself instead.

  3. I agree with your sentiments! I, too, am a sucker for time travel novels. This one was good but not great for me. Although, I did think about it just now (before I saw your post) because I was thinking about trivia and how I'm good at it, but not Jeopardy good at it. Like Brad in one of his many incarnations.

    1. Yes, good but not great. I can't put my finger on it exactly...great idea and lesson. Was it the writing or detail? I'm not sure.