Thursday, May 08, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 18 -- Replay

by Ken Grimwood

Started: May 4
Finished: May 8

Notes: I've had this one on my to-be-read list for some while, and finally got my hands on a copy. This 1988 winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel is about a 43-year-old man who dies (in 1988) and then finds himself transferred back into his 18-year-old self (in 1963), with this scenario repeating again and again and again, something like the Bill Murray movie "Groundhog Day." Also, thoughts of death and dying and aging are on my mind a lot of late, in no small order because of my wife's continual battle with cancer, so this one should prove appropriate to my general mood.

Mini review: This was a truly, truly fantastic book, perhaps the best I've read this year, and maybe in a while. This one harps back to the days when speculative fiction told a good story while also having something important to say, which is frankly not something I see a lot of nowadays. This is also a novel which does not provide all the answers for the reader, something I appreciate but most readers don't seem to, or at least a vocal crowd doesn't appear to from what I've seen over the years. This novel might feel a little dated today, though not much, but it would be interesting to see a sequel today that has a character in the same situation as the protagonist from Replay; unfortunately, the author was working on such a sequel when he passed away in 2003. I highly recommend this book to anyone.


Keith West said...

I have a copy tucked away somewhere that a friend gave me. It sounds like one I would really enjoy, especially as I've been brooding a lot on getting older this past year.

Ty Johnston said...

Keith, considering the publication date and the time periods covered in the novel, it's kind of like Forrest Gump in that it harkens more to the Baby Boomer generation than those that came after, but being a Gen Xer myself, all elements involved were close enough that it didn't seem like ancient history to me. For example, the Kennedy brothers were both slain before I was born, but it still resonated with me as a young person, though probably not to the extent it would have someone alive during the events; World War II, on the other hand, seemed like "ye olden days" to me. Funny, nowadays World War II doesn't seem so far removed for me. Maybe it's something to do with growing older.

Ty Johnston said...

And yeah, I think you'd enjoy it. :-)

Charles Gramlich said...

The idea doesn't sound all that interesting to me, although I've had some fantasies along that line, I guess. Sounds like it was executed very well, though. I'll have to have a look for it.