Thursday, February 4, 2016

Life After Life After Life After Life After Life Book Review

After Life?

When you are tired of running and you have a blog that is largely about running, what do you write about?

You write a book review of course. Makes total sense, right? I thought so.

Last week, I (finally) finished reading Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. Tuesday would have been the best day to post this review because it was Ground Hog Day, and that's what this book reminded me of. Not the day itself, but the movie by the same name. You know it, you've seen it. Now you can read it. Kind of.

The main character of Life After Life, Ursula, isn't living the same day over and over. Rather, she's living her life over and over. What really reminds me of the Bill Murray comedy, is the repetition of events and even reading the same sentences over and over. Has to make for quick work when writing a 500 plus page novel I guess. Maybe Atkinson was getting close to deadline and this is what she came up with, "Let's just repeat this event from chapter 2 several times. Oh, and let's just copy this whole paragraph word-for-word." It works I guess. If you're not easily bored. What I don't get is the shining review from Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, "One of the best novels I've read this century. Kate Atkinson is a marvel. There aren't enough breathless adjectives to describe LIFE AFTER LIFE: Dazzling, witty, moving, joyful, mournful, profound." Maybe she read a summarized version?

Okay, I'll stop being so critical. This is a review though, not an advertisement. I actually read the first 3/4 of the book and then skipped around through the last quarter. I didn't seem to miss anything important. The first half of the book I really enjoyed, though it was slow going. It is well written and intriguing. Here's the just of the story, no spoilers really, as this is all in the descriptions on Amazon: Ursula is born on a stormy England night, in 1910. Throughout her life, even early on, things go wrong, when this happens "darkness falls" and then her life starts over from the beginning. She doesn't seem to actually remember the past version of her life, except for having an eerie feeling, something like Déjà vu. At some point, she does seem to know what is going on though, because she purposely "restarts" her life, trying to get it right. There is never any explanation for this ability she has, though she does have meetings with a therapist in her early life to talk about it. There are vague mentions of "memory problems," but other than that a lot is left unsaid. While I'm all for the mystery that leaves an open ending, with the reader wondering how to fill in the blanks, I don't like this. Give me something here.

Basically, I have mixed feelings on this book. It was good but not good enough and the repetition was carried on too long.

The content of the book is pretty clean. Not much foul language, a little sexual content, and a small amount of violence (nothing graphic).

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