I received a complimentary copy of Repeat from NetGalley—I selected it on a whim, hoping for something light after reading a number of books about deceit, murder, and stalking. In this case, Neal Pollack gave me just the levity I needed with this quick, easy (if predictable) read.
Brad Cohen, failed screenwriter, is about to turn 40. But he has no idea how many times this is about to happen.
Although he was initially headed for success, Brad got derailed somewhere in the midst of marriage and children and a minor pot addiction and working on a show called Battlecats (sadly not real, although it appears ThunderCats is). He’s barely scraping by, and his last shot is pitching show to Fox. It’s a pathetic concept, according to his manager, his wife, and one of the Fox execs: a guy gets caught in an infinite time loop and is forced to keep repeating the first 40 years of his life until he can figure out how to make it stop.
Some of you might be thinking, “Wait, isn’t that the plot of Groundhog Day? Or perhaps one of the many other similar stories out there where the character has to relive the same day/week/year/decade?” The answer is yes, but self-consciously so; the characters all ask Brad the same thing about his show concept, and he insists that it’s different.
Well, lucky for us readers, we get to see exactly how it’s different. Because Brad’s wife is something of a potion-mixing “sexy witch” (his words), and upon his 40th birthday, he finds himself in the exact circumstances of his imagined character. Upon his 40th birthday, Brad wakes up in the womb.
After realizing that he is destined to live the next 40 years of his life again, Brad decides to make the best of it. This time, he can do it right—he can make amazing investments, he can buy property in up-and-coming neighborhoods, and if he plays his cards right, maybe he can even help save America from impending disaster (think 9/11). But Brad quickly finds that a few life changes may dramatically alter his world on a personal level—and at a certain point, he knows his foreknowledge will run out. So what happens when Brad hits his next 40th birthday?
There. I feel like I just wrote a promo for a Rob Schneider movie. And really, that’s sort of what Repeat reads like; it’s amusing, but not necessarily funny, and you care about the characters, but let’s be honest—not that much. Although Brad learns some great lessons about life and choices through his unusual experience, nothing really comes as a surprise along the way.
I think the biggest issue with this novel is that there was really only one possible logical, natural, satisfying ending, so it came as no shock to me when it took place. In fact, it was such a simple solution that I was amazed Brad couldn’t come up with it sooner. The guy lives not just one lifetime, but what equates to hundreds or even over a thousand years, and it takes him that long to figure out how to make the cycling stop? I don’t buy it.
OVERALL RATING (within genre): 3/5 Stars
TL;DR: A novel about a man who repeats the first 40 years of his life over and over again is unsurprisingly predictable, but fairly entertaining nonetheless.