Book Review: The Loop

The Loop
Published By: Hyperion
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
Page Count: 208
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Genre: YA Fiction

I adore novels that play with time and retell events from multiple perspectives, so when an offer to review The Loop by Shady Lawson came to Reading Lark, I jumped at the chance to read it. And I really wanted to love it, but The Loop was not all I had hoped it would be. Based on the cover blurb, I expected something ala The Time Traveler’s Wife meets Groundhog Day, repetition of multiple days throughout the novel, each time with a slight change and an attempt to get Benjamin and Maggie out of The Loop for good, but that wasn’t the set up. The novel is definitely plot-driven versus a character driven. And I think that was why part of why I didn't absolutely love The Loop; I prefer less action and more character in my reading. 

 The plot goes like this, Benjamin doesn't understand why he feels these sensations of déjà vu all the time, until someone explains (this is done by a fascinating minor character who I wish had played a larger role in the story) to him that he is stuck in a time loop. Lawson’s descriptions of the physical pull of The Loop are fantastically written and hands down my favorite writing in the entire book. Then he meets Maggie, a girl who already knows him from the countless other times they've lived and relived these same 48 hours. The only catch is they are murdered at the end of the two days. Every time. So Benjamin and Maggie have to figure out how to get out of The Loop if they want to stay alive. 

 Benjamin, the narrator for the first two thirds of the novel, is a sparsely drawn character; even after finishing the book I can’t tell you much about him. To be honest, I had to keep reminding myself he was a guy for the first few chapters. Maggie, his love interest and the narrator near the end of the novel, was hands down the best part of the book. Spunky, street-smart, and funny, switching to having Maggie narrate for the last few chapters saved the book for me and I wish Lawson had her narrating the entire time. And Roy, the antagonist, isn’t all that interesting of a character. He seems confused more than threatening for most of the story, a bumbling idiot that makes you wonder why these two seemingly smart kids can’t outwit him over and over again. 

 Overall my biggest complaints with this book are the lack of character development and the narrator switch at the end. I found it difficult to believe Benjamin and Maggie felt the depth of love and affection for each other that was required for some of the scenes in the book. Going from not knowing someone (Ben doesn’t recognize Maggie when she bumps into him at the mall) to being wiling to die for them in a matter of a few pages is a tough sell, and unfortunately it doesn’t work here. Then the narrator switch at the end seemingly comes out of nowhere too. And though it is a complaint of mine from a structure and ease of reading perspective, I wish the author had done it sooner. I believe the book could have been so much more successful if Maggie had been telling the entire story, since she was the one who knew she was in a time loop and remembered Benjamin and their history together. 

 Final Word: A mildly suspenseful, easy read with a satisfying ending. If you like plot-driven novels, this just may be your cup of tea.

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?