The gift of hindsight is wonderful but ultimately useless for us since we can’t use it. So it’s not really a gift but we’ll call it that anyway. The historical ‘what-ifs’ we may indulge in from time to time will remain confined to late night conversations and history classes.
Replay by Ken Grimwood follows the life of Jeff Winston who gets to utilise this gift. He’s a 43 year old, stuck in a lifeless marriage, who dies and later wakes up as his 18 year old self with all of his memories intact. Using the knowledge of his past life, he rectifies his past mistakes and, as you may expect, uses this knowledge to his advantage by investing in stocks he knows will be successful and making bets on races. But it doesn’t stop at one replay. It happens again and again which helps answer the question of whether being able to replay our lives is a worthwhile desire.
I thought the premise of the book was interesting and it was executed very well. It is sometimes classified as a science fiction novel (which is actually why I picked it) but I’d be more inclined to label it as a fantasy novel. It focuses much more on the journey of the characters rather than the concept of travelling in time or multiple lives. That might sound odd given the fact that the whole book uses multiple lives to make its point but it makes sense once you read it.
Overall, I thought this book was fantastic. Its main theme was captivating and it was executed extremely well. It reminded me that we do not get the opportunity to rectify some of our mistakes or regain lost time so we should make the most of the opportunities and experiences we have now. I didn’t have any stand out criticisms of the book but part of me wanted Jeff to die and stay that way. What else could he do after making large amounts of money and setting up a comfortable life for himself? Luckily, it didn’t follow a boring and repetitive path since it wasn’t a collection of stories about how lucky he was to have the chance to replay his life. I was engaged with the characters. I may not have agreed with everything Jeff tried to do but that’s part of what made it enjoyable.
Would you want to replay your life? What would you do if you could?
I’m enjoying reading more regularly and writing reviews on them. If you have anything to add about the review, a book recommendation or anything at all, let me know!
The next book on my list is Earth Abides by George R. Stewart.