REPLAY by Ken Grimwood - Book Review (☆☆☆☆☆)

          This speculative fiction novel combines the perfect blend of what-if from Groundhog Day quarter century, with the clean pacing and suspense of The Time Traveler's Wife (book not film).  Soft science fiction fans will not be disappointed because Ken Grimwood deftly dangles the bet-you-know-what'll-happen-next bait followed by several successful surprises. 

          I enjoyed the story enough to give it my highest rating because I recall almost all of the key American events which happened between 1963 and 1988.  However, the downfall of a story which leans as heavily on a specific country's historical events as REPLAY does, is that it gradually loses its audience.  Consequently, I don't recommend it to anyone born after 1970 (unless they are history/SF buffs or love period-pieces)...readers born between 1970 and 1980 will rate it four-stars, between 1980-1990, three stars, et cetera.

          I suspect this novel will become a shitty movie someday soon (I'm a bit surprised it hasn't already).  Just like many books of this type, the success of the plot is based on the empathy we slowly gain watching the world go by through the main character(s) eyes.  Films rarely succeed in relating "over a long period of time" to their audiences.   The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (the film, not Fitzgerald's short story) attempted to accomplish this feat...and bored most of its audience while doing so.  There are exceptions.  Robert Zemeckis's Forrest Gump (a bad book turned into a great screenplay) is the first example I can think of.  If someone had the patience and skill to Gumpize REPLAY and could find the perfect 28 year-old everyman-character actor who is not a comedian (who must capture the two-and-a-half decades between college freshman and middle age; make us love him, feel sorry for him, hate him, and eventually love him again)...I picture ....ahhh.... nobody comes to mind.   Which is why this hypothetical film will be made out of pure suckage.

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