Replay by Ken Grimwood

First Impression
As a fan of science fiction, I thought I knew what I was getting into with Replay.  Nothing could prepare me for how utterly fascinating and thought-provoking this book truly is.

Quick Plot Overview
Jeff Winston is trapped in a dead end job and a loveless marriage.  With a life full of nothing but regrets, Jeff dies in his office at age 43.

And wakes up in his college dorm room.

Jeff continues to relive his life over and over with the
foresight to obtain the money, women, and happiness he was never able to achieve in his first life.  Yet he has no idea why it is happening to him or the other replayers he meets along the way.

My Favorite Character
While Jeff is the main character and narrator, my favorite character is Pamela Phillips, a fellow replayer.  Pamela, an artist and mother of two, has used her replays to learn more about the replay phenomena and educate the masses about it.

Pamela is a caring and creative individual who seems to have a better handle on her replays.  Her focus, throughout the book, is knowledge while Jeff’s priorities tend towards material and physical happiness.

Favorite Quote
“All life includes loss. It’s taken me many, many years to learn to deal with that, and I don’t expect I’ll ever be fully resigned to it. But that doesn’t mean we have to turn away from the world, or stop striving for the best that we can do and be. We owe that much to ourselves, at least, and we deserve whatever measure of good may come of it.”

Who I’d Recommend This Book To 
Readers that love speculative fiction, don’t really like science fiction, loved Groundhog Day, or are really into self-improvement.

Replay is a meditation on life and the nature of regret.  Jeff and Pamela learn, through the course of their lives, that loss is inevitable, but self-knowledge is the key to living without regret.  The looping nature of the narrative really underscores that point as each life they lead presents new challenges to old problems.

Final Say
This book is something of a cult classic amongst science fiction fans. It is easy to see why: the book embodies the best aspects of the genre by using its plot device to advance a serious, philosophical thought in an easily digestible way.

And, for those who aren’t into science fiction, the premise is not heavy-handed and the plot moves along a good pace.  You also don’t have to worry about conspiracies–aliens or otherwise.

This is serious book in a fun, candy shell.   It has earned a permanent place in my personal library.