Review: Replay by Ken Grimwood

Replay has been read widely and heavily reviewed. On the whole, the reviews tend to be hugely positive…though for the remainder I’m sure that some have been written by a group of people who gave up after the first few chapters out of total and sheer boredom.

Synopsis of Replay

Replay book cover

Jeff Winston dies at 43 and wakes up as an 18 year old. He relives his life with knowledge of what’s to come. Then dies again at 43. He wakes up as an 18 year old again, albeit a few days later than the last time. And he relives his life again. And again. And so on.

Eventually he meets Pamela Phillips, another ‘replayer’ like himself. Their shared wisdom gleaned over each of their replays help them to hit it off with each other. Together they try to figure out what’s happening to them, and why the length of the replays are getting shorter and what the consequences of the natural extrapolation will be.

Replay my thoughts…

Despite the tedious first few chapters I managed to plod on…which turned out to be a good thing because Replay picks up a little around half way through. From then on it gets interesting with the introduction of Pamela.

So…my review I guess will be like the summation of all the others – that I both liked and hated Replay.

Like the main character at the start of the book, I’m in my roaring forties. Unlike him, I have a job I love, but even better, I have a wife and 2 kids who I’m intensely in love with.

So if I died tonight and I got to live my life again, would I do things any differently?


I wouldn’t read Replay again, at least, not the first half.

The first half describes how some bloke lives his life for the second time. OK, he’s died and come back as an 18 year old, but there’s nothing particularly interesting to read. Then he does it again. And again, and probably again. I can’t remember now. He does it a few times anyway.

Knowledge of the past futures doesn’t really come into play that much apart from his placing a few bets and investments to ensure financial security. He tries to stop the JFK assassination. Arghh! It’s hardly an original theme in a time travel novel.

Well, I say “time travel” but it’s pretty shallow stuff really and it certainly doesn’t read anything like a time travel novel. Indeed Jeff doesn’t seem to display any level of wisdom beyond his apparent 18 years of age other than taking steps to avoid fathering children knowing that they would cease to exist on his next replay.

Finally he meets Pamela, and through her an actual plot starts to form. It’s rather diluted because it’s infused with romance (actually an interesting line because of complications with wives and girlfriends from previous replays)

I’m only giving 3 stars to Replay for its blandidity, relieved only in the second half.


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Star ratings:

| 5* Excellent! | 4* Good | 3* OK | 2* Not good | 1* Crud |

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Replay by Ken Grimwood
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