Peat Harris is a Repeater. At nineteen he began repeating a day and didn’t understand what was going on. Now at twenty-two, he’s done over fifty repeats. He knows he repeats days to save people from an unjust death by intervening, altering the events leading to it. If he fails, the day repeats again until he gets it right. He still doesn’t know why, or even really how. He just knows that his hands begin to tingle when he comes close to the person he needs to save.
“He did it because he had no choice. He did it because he had only hope. Hope that it was good or right. That it would make a difference. That the days would stop.”
If Peat fails to save his assigned person, Peat remembers everything about the failed attempt, but nobody else remembers anything. For everyone but the repeater, time is unbroken. Peat finds himself in Boise, Idaho, in a skateboard park, and learns his next rescue is Jake Schwinn. This is the story of Peat falling in love with Jake as he tries to save him, and how love might affect the rules of Repeating.
Okay, I can’t not say it: Peat, repeat? Cute, nearly too cute, but I’m okay with it now.
This is a tough story for me to review. The author has strong story skills. The writing is vigorous and focused, the characters well-drawn, the premise is intriguing. I was drawn into the story, but not far enough to take me all the way to its heart. I’m quite willing to accept that the failure is not the story’s but mine. I think I got hung up on my issues with the world-building.
I love getting lost in a book, but I really don’t like losing my way in one. I came away from this story feeling too much information had been deliberately withheld from me to really enjoy it. I don’t think that was necessarily bad writing, especially in this case. I think it’s more a stylistic choice by the author that doesn’t work well for me.
To begin, I couldn’t get past that Peat had this terrible responsibility to save lives without understanding why or how that responsibility fit in some larger frame of purpose. With so much at risk — the driver of a van has had his brakes sabotaged, and this is not Peat’s first attempt to save him by driving his own vehicle into the runaway van. (Why this guy? We have no idea.) This time, does Peat hit the van too soon, before the driver realizes his brakes had failed? Will Peat have to do this rescue over yet again? — I insist he ought to understand more than he does.
Peat is an architecture student in California, but he’s whisked away to other places, Texas and Idaho, for instance, to perform his Repeater duties. There was no real indication of the impact of Repeating on his psyche, his studies, or indeed, on much of his non-repeating life. Apart from falling in love with Jake, Peat’s character lacks a convincing arc of growth.
Still, the dialogue is compelling, as aggressive and fragmented as two prickly twenty year-old men might use, the characters are consistent in their behavior, and the plot is well handled. Smith has given us a solid story with great story questions. For me, too many of those story questions remained unaddressed at the final curtain.
I am a big fan of time travel stories and love the movie Groundhog Day and so when I read about Peat the repeater (I actually did not make the connection like Lloyd did), I thought I was going to be in heaven. Sadly, what started off as a cool “repeat the day until you get it right” got so confusing that I was more focused on figuring out the day and events than the progression of the story. Fortunately the plot smoothed out and was easier to follow to the end.
I would have to say that neither Jake nor Peat were as fleshed out as I would have expected, especially since there were virtually no secondary characters of consequence throughout the story except Maddie. She came close at one point, and her role in the story was expanded near the end, but it would have been nice to see more of her character as a way of giving some dimension to Peat. Peat was a strangely complacent character, with no apparent motivation for being essentially a pawn in some cosmic game of “make it right” and knowing the “how” and “why” would have gone a long way toward making his character believable.
Now, because of the identity of the antagonist, and the role of the repeater in the world of Rinse and Repeat, the characters were forced to find creative solutions to the problem and at this point, it started to remind me of an amateur detective show. As for where the story was set, it didn’t matter that it was in Boise Idaho, a skate park is a skate park, and since the only thing off from our reality is the repeater, I was not concerned with the locals described.
Overall, not what I was expecting, either in terms of characters, or continuity and flow, but other than the middle that got a bit confusing (and I will admit that I was tired this week), it was not a bad story. It is probably not one I would re-read, but definitely worth a go once.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.