Time Loops, Replay by Ken Grimwood, and the Book Challenge!

I do love a bit of time travel!

So the reading challenge commenced last Sunday (I have decided my reading week will be Sunday to Saturday) and the first book I have chosen is Replay by Ken Grimwood. This was an award winning book published in 1986 which I have had on my Kobo for about a year but never got around to reading. I discovered it after I’d been trawling online for books related to time loops; this was a topic that caught my imagination after catching Groundhog Day on the TV. The General premise is that Jeff the protagonist dies after a heart attack in his 40s and wakes up back in his teenage body living his life all over again. Without giving too much away, he lives his life over many times in the book and we see how he copes with foreknowledge of certain events, finding and losing loved ones and the lack of understanding as to why it’s happening to him.

replay2

I enjoyed reading it as expected (after all I do love time travel) but more than that I liked the way it was written and I could understand Jeff’s thought process and actions even if at times they weren’t likable. But putting the actual book aside, it is the concept of time loops that intrigues me most. What would you do if you could go back and change things? If you had all your current knowledge 10 years ago, 20 years ago, maybe just 5 minutes ago, what would you do? The obvious and boring move is to make lots of money, but how do you keep life interesting if everything stays the same? One the other side, how far reaching are each of your actions or non-actions? How big is the ripple effect? These are ideas that are often explored in this type of fiction.

Groundhog Day (Film)groundhog day

Time travel and time loops are ideas that have been explored in many mediums. I have already mentioned Groundhog Day when Bill Murray’s character relives Groundhog Day over and over until he gets it right or he’s learnt his lesson or some other vague point. It’s still a fun film despite the unexplained time loop and the two leads not being some of my favourite actors.

About Time (Film)

The more recent ones that spring to mind are the film ‘About Time’ in 2013, written and directed by Richard Curtis; this is a classic British RomCom with the same feeling as his other works such as Notting Hill. If you can forgive the gaping holes in the time travel theory they have set up, this film is great.

about_time_film

In this film the men in a family have the ability to travel back in their own timeline and relive parts of their lives. The idea of making money is brought up but just as quickly shot down suggesting nothing interesting would ever happen if you had easy money. Instead the father (Bill Nighy) recommends living each day as normal, getting stressed about things, being surprised by things, not knowing what’s about to happen, then reliving it without any concerns, not changing anything, but being comfortable with the way it turned out and that the world is still spinning at the end. By the end of the film it is suggested that we live with that outlook the first time round then there is no need to relive it.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

In book form, I recently read ‘The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August’ by Claire North. This has many echoes of Replay in it as a man lives out his life then is repeatedly reborn back at the start. There are a few differences in the time travel theory used, and it is set in a different time, however the concept of having several lifetimes worth of understanding and foreknowledge in a young body is similar. Where this book truly differs is in its plot. Here the book is more about the ripple effect and suspense. Where in Replay the world is very similar each replay due to the lack of other Replayers, In Harry August’s lives the existence of several people replaying through different times means changes are happening and not all of them good. This book was harder to read with so much going on, but definitely worth it. The small chapters made it manageable and the extremely well thought out time travel phenomenon was extremely pleasing to my logical brain.

harry august

So success for this week’s reading challenge! And may next week be equally enjoyable.

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