The Year I Lived Twice

A Time Loop Mystery

Young Adult - Mystery
273 Pages
Reviewed on 04/21/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Manik Chaturmutha for Readers' Favorite

The Year I Lived Twice by Alex Woolf is a time loop mystery that tells the story of Jason Harris, the protagonist, who experiences a time loop after the tragic death of his younger brother, Archie. As the family struggles to cope with the loss during Christmas, Jason falls while adjusting the tree and wakes up a year earlier. From that moment, he realizes the mistakes he made in the past and vows to make the best of his time with his siblings, especially Archie. He also tries to mend his relationship with his best friend Leo, who died along with Archie in the original timeline.

The book is divided into four parts, each adding a new twist and keeping the reader engaged. It explores themes of grief, romance, fraternal love, second chances, and friendship. The author skillfully builds suspense around a murder mystery while also examining the relationship between siblings and how the protagonist improves it in the new timeline. The plot is mysterious, with every answer we might have guessed being discarded as new facts are revealed. The author also delves deep into the works of Russian authors who wrote about the pain and regret of choices. The story follows the theory that the choices we make have a significant impact on our future. One can only regret after making a choice, as it cannot be undone. The best thing to do is to savor every moment. The Year I Lived Twice by Alex Woolf is well-written and satisfying. It is highly recommended for readers who enjoy stories with time loops and murder mysteries.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

The Year I Lived Twice by Alex Woolf is A Time Loop Mystery for young adults. Seven weeks prior, Jason lost his brother in a fire, and he’s struggling to come to terms with it. Following a freak accident, Jason wakes to find himself back a year earlier when Archie was still alive. This is his chance to rewrite history, a chance to stop his brother from dying in a fire. But things aren’t that easy, and Jason is about to find out the truth about what really happened that night. Secrets are uncovered about the people around Jason, and he now has to race to save Archie. Every decision he makes can send events spiraling out of control, but he is the only one who can change things. Can he save Archie without changing everything else?

The Year I Lived Twice by Alex Woolf is an amazing young adult adventure with a unique plot. This is not just an adventure story, though. It deals with love and loss sensitively but in a real way, and it also carries the message of redemption. The story is action-packed, and right from the first page, you will be hooked as you join Jason on his nail-biting race to make the most of his second chance. This is an edge-of-your-seat story with wonderfully real characters, and you’ll be on Jason’s side throughout. Prepare for unexpected secrets to be spilled along the way in this thrilling tale with an ending you won’t see coming. This is an enjoyable story, recommended for all teens and young adults as it can help teach them some of what to expect in life.

Grant Leishman

The Year I Lived Twice by Alex Woolf is a clever time travel adventure. Jason and his family are about to celebrate Christmas but this year’s festivities are dimmed by sadness due to the death of Jason’s little brother, Archie, in a fire that Jason believes was started by his best friend. The family is merely going through the motions, each member wrapped up in their grief and sadness. Jason, as the tallest member of the family, is entrusted to climb the ladder and place the tree-topper on the top. A wave of dizziness causes him to fall from the ladder and, as he regains his equilibrium, he sees his whole family looking down on him. Incredibly, Archie is among them. Jason miraculously has traveled back in time one whole year. As it dawns on him that he can save his beloved brother from the fire, he sets about reliving the year and this time making sure that Archie does not perish. Things, though, are not always as they seem and Jason finds himself caught in a vortex of doubt, where every decision he makes will change the fabric of time itself.

The Year I Lived Twice is principally aimed at the young adult market but, regardless, I found it an enjoyable read. Author Alex Woolf has created a group of teenage characters that should be readily recognizable to readers, although the story is set in the 1980s. Set before the advent of the internet and mobile phones, this made for situations that required considerable thought and action as opposed to just searching for something online or calling someone. I was intrigued that Jason’s second time around in the year varied so significantly from his original experiences and often tiny changes in his behavior or decision-making influenced this. The author cleverly used very different characters to encompass the full breadth of teenage views, actions, and angst. Millie, with her well-read knowledge and lack of self-confidence, is a character that many teenage girls especially will be able to identify with. Growing up, we all knew characters such as appear in this novel, and that makes it so relatable to all readers. In many ways, Jason’s journey through the same year as before is a voyage of discovery as he realizes many home truths about himself, his friends, and his family. This is a fun take on the time-travel problem and I enjoyed this book immensely. Highly recommended.