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Come Again by Robert Webb (Book Review)

⭐⭐⭐ (3 Stars)

A beautiful and magical tale of grief.

Come Again tells the story of Kate, the IT department head for a company that does Online Reputational Management. Basically, they are responsible to make bad press ”disappear” using SEO and other algorithms, so when you search someone on Google, the bad stuff will be far back and a lot of new shiny and interesting information will appear on top.

But, Kate has been struggling a lot lately, she’s extremely depressed after she lost her husband of 28 years. Luke had a brain tumor, one that was barely noticeable and that grew and grew symptomless until he collapsed on their kitchen floor after unloading the dishwasher.

Now, Kate has come across a new file at work that is a game-changer of epic proportions, only if she could care about anything other than drinking herself to sleep.

Come Again is divided into three parts, the first one (described briefly above) is the set-up of: here’s Kate, this is why she is grieving and not coping, also, some crazy stuff happens at her job. This is the most emotional part and Robert Webb does a great job of immersing you in her story while adding some dry humor to keep this interesting.

Part 2 is where the element of magical realism/time-travel is introduced. On the night that Kate is giving up on her life she falls asleep instead to wake up on the exact night she met her husband when she was 18-years-old and attending the University of York.

Although this part didn’t go quite the way I was expecting it to, it was refreshing and super funny to see Kate interacting with her young husband and friends. You see, she might have woken up in the body of an 18-year-old, but her brain is very much 45, and she had zero patience for the silly games these teenagers are playing, also – she’s now back to 1992 and that means no cellphones, internet or any modern-day technologies.

Unfortunately, Part 3 is just not well executed at all. It seems like the parts are disjointed, almost like they could each be a story on their own (or that they were written by two completely different people), and then it fails to bring the different plots together in a satisfying resolution.

When Kate wakes up back in the present I was expecting the story to either: acknowledge the time-traveling element with consequences, i.e. she changed the current timeline, she altered something important, etc. Or, (and this is what I would have preferred) this is a way that her brain helped her cope and understand that she was seeing her husband through rose-tinted glasses and that she is alive and needs to move on.

However, we’re thrown into a James-Bond-style car chase that doesn’t really fit the mellow and deep tone of the story so far, and then we get an explanation for Luke that just doesn’t make sense – not even in sci-fi, not even in common time-traveling tropes.

I do have to praise the writing though – many times Come Again made me laugh out loud or have tears in my eyes. It was beautifully nostalgic and I highlighted many quotes that will definitely stick with me for a while. And even though the book didn’t quite take the paths I was expecting (or wanted) it was certainly gifted with bright pockets of cleverness and wisdom.

This was ARC provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Find the book here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Come-Again-Robert-Webb/dp/1786890127

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