Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Review: THE LOOP By Shandy Lawson

Ben and Maggie have met, fallen in love, and died together countless times. Over the course of two pivotal days—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 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?
I loved the concept of this story when I first stumbled across the synopsis. Two star-crossed lovers are stuck in a time loop that ends with them dying each time. It's like a teenage Groundhog Day meets, I don't know, a sanitized Bonnie and Clyde.

Sadly, I was not destined to love this book.

It wasn't a bad book. In fact, I could conceivably see people thoroughly enjoying this book. The premise is certainly an intriguing one. Ben and Maggie are stuck in a time loop, one that lasts only a couple days and sends them through those same two days again and again. It starts when they meet and ends when they die, shot down by a homicidal thief. The loop has to be explained to Ben every time it starts over, since he loses his memory every time the loop resets, leaving him only with a strong sense of deja vu. Maggie, on the other hand, can remember some of the details, though not all. This is her fourth loop.

My main problem was I couldn't make myself care. Seriously of the eight notes I made on this book, HALF of them were me repeating in some form how very little I cared:
No connection

Cool concept but just don't care


Very forgettable
I never felt close to either Ben or Maggie. For all Ben spoke of his connection to Maggie, she was nothing more than an untouchable reflection to me. Ben himself also felt flat. There was little depth to either of them, as their entire state of being was confined to the loop. I didn't care about Ben getting back to his life, because I didn't know his life. I had no feel for what he had lost, so what did I care if he got it back? Even their leap into insta-love failed to get a rise out of me, despite Ben's feeble insistence that it wasn't insta-love because he had known Maggie for a bajillion loops. (Phooey, I say, since he couldn't remember those loops.) Both characters felt like stick figures created to serve a plot that tickled the author's fancy. Billy Murray they ain't.

Part of the problem, I think, is how short the novel is. At 198 pages, it's wafer-thin, at least compared to what I normally read. Through the course of the novel, Ben and Maggie make it through their loop a grand total of two times. Two, apparently, is few enough times that I don't learn to care but enough times that I still feel bored. Not optimal, that.

I really have nothing else to say. The only other notes I have had to do with minor criticisms, such as Ben's propensity to use text lingo in an email and his commenting on the swoosh sound a sent email makes as if it's something new. Both incidents were unnecessary and annoying, but hardly a deal-breaker.

I'm hoping some of you will pick up the book in spite on my lackluster review and find elements that enchant and delight you. That's the marvel of reading. My favorite book can be another's least favorite and vice-versa. So check it out on your own and good luck. I, for one, will not be revisiting this particular loop in my life.

Points Added For: An interesting premise.

Points Subtracted For: Failing to make me care even slightly.

Good For Fans Of: Groundhog Day, short novels, star-crossed lovers.

Notes For Parents: Language, murder.

Note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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