Thursday, August 8, 2013

Book Review: The Repeat Year

By Melissa Amster

I've always loved the movie Groundhog Day, as time travel interests me a lot and seeing someone stuck in a time warp, trying to make changes to move to the next day, was a cool concept for a movie. Well, imagine having to live over an entire year! What choices would you make differently to be able to move on to the next year? Olive is faced with this challenge in Andrea Lochen's debut novel, The Repeat Year.

Olive wakes up in her ex-boyfriend's bed on New Year's Day. However, it is the first day of 2011...AGAIN! And her ex-boyfriend is still her boyfriend, as they hadn't broken up by that point in time. As Olive tries to figure out how to make her circumstances better in all aspects of her life, she gains an unlikely friend who understands exactly what she's going through. Will Olive be able to move on to the next year with her new choices intact, or will she be stuck in an endless loop of a repeat year?

As soon as I read the summary of The Repeat Year, I knew this would be my kind of book. Not only do I love time travel movies, but I also enjoy a good time travel novel. There's so much an author can work with when time is manipulated, and Andrea Lochen does it well. She works in interesting characters and situations that move the plot along, tied together with strong and revealing dialogue and interactions between characters throughout. I liked that it took place in Madison, Wisconsin, since most novels seem to be centered around big cities or beach towns. I used to visit a close friend in Madison throughout high school and college, so it was easy to visualize where things were taking place. I thought it was interesting that some of the primary female characters had unique names, such as Olive, Kerrigan and Verona. I also thought it was amusing that Olive's boyfriend's name was Phil, since the main character in Groundhog Day is also named Phil. (And so is the groundhog!) The cover is really cool too. Even if I didn't know the story, that would have drawn me in right away.

Considering that Olive's story was so personally driven, where she was the only one really taking focus the whole time, I feel that it should have been written in first person. I could still connect with her in third person, but I think first person would have made more of an impact. Given that it was in third person, Andrea had room to include perspectives from other characters and this would have worked nicely if she shared Olive's new friend's perspective. Since they were going through similar situations, I would have wanted to know more about what her friend was thinking and feeling. As with most time travel stories, I had a hard time wrapping my head around some of the concepts involved. (For example, if someone were to keep repeating a year, such as Olive's friend, would the lives of those who were able to move forward get changed in any way by those who were still left behind? Like if Olive and her friend had an interaction in a new version of 2011 and her friend were forced to repeat the year again, would that erase the interaction if Olive were to move on to 2012? Is your head spinning yet?) I also found it strange that people accepted Olive's new reality when she explained it, even when they had only a little proof.

Overall, this was a strong debut novel and I hope Andrea Lochen will continue to write more stories with different kinds of realities.

Thanks to BookSparks PR for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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