Monday, January 27, 2014

Life After Life

"Life After Life" by Kate Atkinson was one of those books that had a lot of hype surrounding it and, in my opinion, did not live up to it. It took me two weeks to read it, partly because I read "Catch-22" during the same time frame, but mostly because I simply didn't want to pick it up and read it most of the time.
It started out with a lot of promise, I thought. The life of the main character, Ursula, is on permanent repeat. She dies in numerous ways throughout the book, and goes right back to where she started, being born on a snowy evening. She rarely makes the same mistake that results in her death twice, but sometimes it takes more work than others.
What I liked best about this book was that it showed  how one decision, even one that might seem insignificant at the time, can change the outcome of your whole life. When Ursula finally makes it to World War II, things change. And for me, that was where the book started to drag. Sure, she lives longer, but to me it became depressing and drawn out. I also found this section of the book to be confusing at times. I had a hard time figuring out how she'd gotten where she did, especially during one part that I don't want to talk about here because I wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone.
What I didn't like about this book was that, for the most part, the other characters seemed to stay the same while Ursula changed. I didn't feel connected to any of them, really, and none of them seemed to grow as characters. There were also times when the actions of characters were mentioned, and it seemed like it would be a significant development, and then it wasn't. Why say that Ursula saw someone in a place that was unusual if nothing was going to come of it?
The ending was very open-ended, which bothered me. Was she repeating her life over and over so she could do things right, or was it just going to repeat on and on forever until it all became a jumbled mess in her mind and she wound up institutionalized somewhere?
"Life After Life" was a really interesting concept, but I didn't think it was executed as well as it could have been.

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