I had several issues with A Repeating Life, some of which have to do with my own personal preferences, and others that are probably more universal. As seems to be a problem with a lot of self-published works, A Repeating Life has grammar, spelling, and punctuation issues. 'You're' instead of 'your's, periods where commas should be, even backwards quotation marks. I figure that's probably par for the course, and honestly it doesn't bother me much in this kind of publication, but I figured it warranted mentioning, since that's a pet peeve for some people.
No, my issues here have more to do with the story, structure, and characters, because A Repeating Life is actually the tale of a chronically helpless woman who is held captive against her will (for her own good) by her ~sexy boss~/~soulmate~, whom she - naturally - eventually falls in love with.
The book opens with a three-page sequence in which our heroine, Ana, is attacked and choked into unconsciousness in a parking lot by her abusive ex-husband. It's the proverbial wrong foot to start with, being an awkwardly-written, structurally unnecessary re-enactment of a very familiar, disturbing trope, and...is actually a pretty accurate representation of the book and its pervading flaws.
1. It's awkwardly-written
This particular flaw was most prominent in the first chapter, where the most varied instances of dialog and character interaction take place. I really haven't phrased it right, though - it's not that the writing is awkward, exactly, it's just...difficult to buy. The exchanges between Ana and her best friend Amelia, the conversation between Ana and her stuffy manager, even the threats her husband spouts as he attacks her - they don't ring true. They're too familiar - the characters say pretty much what you'd expect them to say, and in fact have seen similar characters say in other mediums. But they say it without any distinguishing turn of phrase, tick, or variation, really, to make it their own. They speak in cliches.
In short, you get the feeling that the author doesn't have any real idea of who these characters are, or how they work outside their respective tropes - the semi-slutty, outspoken best friend, the possessive, violent ex, etc. Because of that, they don't feel even remotely real; they're the literary equivalent of cardboard cutouts voiced by a few not particularly talented parrots.
To be fair, it's not as bad as the book progresses, probably because there are fewer characters and the author seems to have a better sense of how the ones that are around interact. But still, when it does pop up - like in Ana's mid-book conversation with her mother - it's just one more thing that takes you out of the story....
Read more at You're Killing.Us