Rummanah Aasi
  Books about time traveling are very popular. It is very interesting to see how different authors approach the concept of time. The Loop by Shandy Lawson is very much like the movie, Groundhogs Day, where the characters relive the same day over and over until they find a way to break their loop of time. Thank you to Disney Hyperion and Netgalley for an advanced reader's copy of the book!

Description from the Publisher: Ben and Maggie have met, fallen in love, and died together countless times. Over the course of two pivotal day--both the best and worst of their lives--they struggle again and again to resist the pull of fate and the force of time itself. With each failure, they return to the beginning of their end, a wild road trip that brings them to the scene of their own murders and into the hands of the man who is destined to kill them.
  As time circles back on itself, events become more deeply ingrained, more inescapable for the two kids trapped inside the loop. The closer they come to breaking out, the tighter fate's clutches seem to grip them. They devise a desperate plan to break free and survive the days ahead, but what if Ben and Maggie's only shot at not dying is surviving apart?

Review: The Loop is a perfect example of a really clever premise marred by flawed execution. Ben and Maggie are two teenagers who relive their violent deaths over and over when they find themselves stuck in a time loop. Ben and Maggie have met several times, but they just don't quite remember. Both experience a very strong sense of deja vu when they accidentally bump into one another at a mall in New Orleans. Their innocent and awkwardly cute encounter leads to attempted murder, 24 hours on being on the run from authorities, an envelope full of racetrack winnings and a final showdown in a dirty storeroom, where they are shot in cold blood by the same criminal over and over for their misbegotten cash. Like many novels involving the themes of fatalism and time traveling, each time Ben and Maggie attempt to change the circumstances that lead to their demise, they are thwarted by fate, which keeps placing them in the bullets' paths. Is escape possible, or are Ben and Maggie doomed to repeat the worst day of their lives forever?
   The Loop does not lack in action. The pace is relatively quick with short chapters, however, the author doesn't seem to take time to fully develop it. We are given rash explanations of what stated the time loop. For example Ben finds out about being in a time loop by a weird psychic on the street named Steve and quickly seems to accept it. Steve, like Ben, is also part of a time loop of his own but we are never told what happens to him before and after he meets Ben. Ben and Maggie supposedly meet at the racetrack and receiver their large sum of money, however, we never see this happening. Their loop is only regulated to meeting one another and are quickly confronted by a man who basically tells them to give him the money (which seems to magically appear) or die. Big questions surrounding Ben and Maggie's time loop are either lightly touched upon or never addressed. The unimaginative answer to Ben and Maggie's time loop trouble is completely unsatisfying and frustrating.
  While I was somewhat okay with a weak plot as I didn't have any great expectations of it, I was completely disappointed with the lack of character development of our two protagonists. Since the book starts in medias res, I kept hoping for more background to flesh out Ben and Maggie. While we do get a little bit more about Maggie, I would have liked a lot more. I was never convinced that these two characters were romantically linked but they rather had been stuck together at the wrong place and wrong time. I really think that focusing on the characters a bit more would answer a lot of the questions I had the plot. For example, why are two teens at a racetrack to begin with? How did they meet and decide to place their bets together? Why was there only one person who is after them? Unfortunately by the time I finished the book, I didn't really know Ben and Maggie much better than I did at the beginning of the book. As a result, I didn't really care a whole lot about them and the book. If you're looking for a good book about time traveling, I suggest looking somewhere else.

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language. Recommended for Grades 7 and up.

If you like this book try: Tempest by Julie Cross, The Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher
5 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Lack of character development is the kiss of death for any book for me Rummanah! Like you said, I can overlook a weak plot or a few frustrations here and there, but those things on top of characters who are superficial at best is really disappointing. I wish you actually got to know Ben and Maggie more, spending 300ish pages with them and not knowing them better at the end than you did at the beginning is unfortunate. Thanks for your thoughts:)

  2. Sounds like an interesting idea, but you know it is one where I have been there done that and so if the characters are lacking and the plot falters, it is a no go for me.

  3. Candace Says:

    I didn't have such a strong feeling of a lack of character development (though I completely agree with you) but it was just lack of explanations on all sides. Nothing really made much sense to me unfortunately. We're of the same mind for this one I guess.

  4. Too bad this didn't work for you. Time travel is a such a tricky concept. I wonder if they spent so much time trying to work the complexities of it out that the inherent plot and character development suffered.

  5. Rubita Says:

    One of the things that really bothered me about this book was that we only get to experience two (maybe three--I can't remember) loops. I felt tricked! I also felt like the concept was underused. One of the fun things about Groundhog Day is seeing all the different ways the same day can be lived--and The Loop didn't capitalize on the concept in a similarly successful way.

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