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The Undoing of Arlo Knott

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  151 ratings  ·  46 reviews
What if your life had an 'undo' button?

Arlo Knott develops the mysterious ability to reverse his last action. It makes him able to experience anything, to charm any woman and impress any friend. His is a life free of mistakes, a life without regret.

But second chances aren't all they're cracked up to be. As wonderful as his new life is, a mistake in Arlo's traumatic childho
Kindle Edition, 464 pages
Published August 1st 2019 by Orbit
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Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
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Schizanthus Nerd
When I read the blurb for this book it reminded me of an episode of one of my favourite TV shows growing up, Round the Twist. Paul Jennings was one of my favourite authors and I loved encountering the unexpected in his stories. He wrote the episode, Spaghetti Pig Out, where a main character finds a remote control that can pause, fast forward or rewind anything or anyone it’s aimed at. This coincides with a spaghetti eating competition and the school bully just so happens to find out about the r ...more
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was an intriguing tale of physics and life. Arlo Knott had a rare ability, he could undo time-space continuum. He could go back in time and correct his mistakes. This started with a few seconds in the past until it moved on to greater lengths of time. And this was his life story as he learned how time and universes really worked. And the role he played in that.

Heather Child has written a thought provoking concept based on a single line - what if we could have an undo button? How would we us
This book is fabulous! It's a clever speculative thriller but it also explores quite deeply the worlds of family, friendships, responsibility and - that awful emotion - guilt. Arlo Knott is a fascinating character as he explores the many different ways in which undoing an act can take him and realises how dangerous and terrifying and whimsical life really is. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights. ...more
Dec 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2019
Heather Child’s The Undoing of Arlo Knott is superb! It’s even better than her first book Everthing About You. I loved the way Arlo discovers the limits of his gift and the limitless ripples it sends out into the universe when he uses it, in ways great and small. How when you can just go back and undo and replay events, people in your life become like NPCs in a computer game and you can reload until you get the desired outcome; they don’t seem real anymore. There is so much grief in this book, b ...more
Kate~Bibliophile Book Club
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Check back in August for my blog tour review! Really enjoyed this one 😊
Kelly Van Damme
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Hi and welcome to my review of The Undoing of Arlo Knott! First of all, I’d like to invite you to take a good look at that gorgeous cover, because it pretty much sums up the whole story, albeit in a way you don’t really realise until you’ve read it. Also, a note on the chaptering, which is a bit funny: it starts with part 6. A publisher note explains that this is meant to reflect the time-reversing aspects of the novel. While I don’t exactly see the added value in this, it doesn’t distract from ...more
Lel Budge
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This starts with young Arlo helping his mum in the garden, he’s holding the ladder for her while she sands down some woodwork. He is then distracted by a slowworm and moves away from the ladder……..the tragedy that follows haunts him with guilt….could a slight boy have actually made a difference…?

Arlo then discovers he has a ‘gift’….he can jump back in time a few seconds….with practice this gets a little longer….at first he uses it to get himself out of situations, like eating his nans shortbread
Jess C
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Undoing of Arlo Knott is unlike anything I’ve read before. It’s a book that grows in its power: it starts off like a single recorder being played out of tune but quickly builds up to a crashing crescendo with a show-stopping finale.

After a traumatic childhood incident, Arlo Knott discovers he can rewind time. He can undo any mistake, make uncanny predictions, impress friends and strangers, and chat up girls. But this temptation to undo and erase his mistakes isn’t the gift he initially thin
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed Everything About You when I read it last year so was quite intrigued to see what the author would serve up for this, her second book. And, the verdict; I blooming loved it!
Arlo Knott suffers a devastating loss as a child and has felt guilty ever since. One day, he finds that he can "rewind time" initially only going back a minute or two, but long enough for him to erase mistakes, take back things he's said, or find out information he can manipulate people/situations with. Sadly, he can
Annabelle Heath
It’s difficult to know where to start with reviewing this, as it’s so unlike anything I’ve read recently. I can’t call to mind an ‘if you loved X, you will love Arlo Knott’ comparison. It’s hard to even place the genre. Science fiction? Fantasy? General fiction with a magical twist? It's a book that rather defies categorisation.

The Undoing Of Arlo Knott is the story of a man with the ability to go back in time a very short amount. He can undo the previous few moments, take back a badly landed pi
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

What if your life had an 'undo' button?

At thirteen, among pain and regret for his mother's passing, Arlo Knott realizes that he has an extraordinary ability: he can reverse his most recent action. His power, at this point, comes with limitations: he has to remember exactly what was done in order to reverse it, and it must be the most recent happening. But it's still a tremendous ability. Is this h
Rosie Amber
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: time-travel
The Undoing Of Arlo Knott is a time travel contemporary fantasy.

Arlo Knott has the ability to go back in time so that he could change an outcome of an event. He first discovered this ability as a teenager, when he moved time during a school class. With practice he learns how to 'unknot' time for longer periods.

The story follows Arlo between the ages of thirteen and thirty-six. As he sought ways to feel adored and appreciated, his 'undoing' was not used for the most altruistic of purpose, and it
Nov 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
Sigh. So much potential with this concept but it feels rather wasted. The hook feels to just endlessly meander through minor ups and downs and then just as it finally shows an inkling of something gripping happening it ends.
Lynn Williams
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
The undoing of Arlo Knott was a captivating and thought provoking tale that literally made me think – ‘be careful what you wish for’.

The story gets off to a really strong start. We meet Arlow as a young boy, gauche and awkward, a self confessed ‘mummy’s boy’ and in fact he is indeed helping his mum as she undertakes some DIY on their cosy little house. It’s simply one of those scenes that you know, like you sometimes know it’s going to thunder, that things
Gareth Howells
This was intelligently written, with the basic premise of the book being explored fully throughout, but the way the author chose to explore the concept wasn’t what I was hoping for; the book is essentially a wistful love story with an unlikeable character at the centre of it....the last 100 pages were good though...and it had a poignant ending.
Alan Taylor
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Soon after his mother suffers a terrible accident, 13 year old Arlo Knott discovers that he has the ability to jump back in time, only for a short time - enough to undo the punches he has just inflicted on his sister, but, unfortunately, not enough to save his mum. Always a mummy’s boy, already abandoned by his father, Arlo initially uses his ability to fit in, to try out approaches to conversations, to relationships, taking back ‘errors’, seemingly always saying or doing the perfect thing. But, ...more
Karen Barber
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
If we knew the consequences of our actions, how many of us would change things? If we could live a life without regrets, how many of us would accept what comes with it? If we had even the slightest inkling that someone could rewind time, what would we think of them? How would our lives and decisions be different?
In this intriguing read, we’re introduced to Arlo Knott who can alter time and who, over time, has learned how to manipulate events to change the outcome.
At the start of the book we are
Can Sönmez
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As with her previous novel, 'Everything About You', Child is an author that likes to explore ideas. With her second book, the central concept is the main character's ability to rewind a few seconds of his life, a power that Child takes in intriguing directions, resulting in a rich character arc for the protagonist.

Just like 'Everything About You', the writing is of a high standard, with a shift to a more action-packed plot than perhaps was the case in her debut. A really good read.
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant novel exploring how someone who can always rewind time to fix things learns to grow up and take responsibility

Full review -
Jan 16, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A book about undoing your mistakes. It is an interesting premise, Arlo is able to rewind time to correct any mistakes he makes whether this be a poorly landed chat up line or saving a person from a gun shot. Unfortunately Arlo can only go back by small bits and can’t save the people he really wants to.

I found the start good and the end predictable but the middle I struggled with. The issue I have is I never really got Arlo’s character which is why struggled with the middle of the book that follo
Kim Phipps
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the premise behind this novel - a person able to essentially reverse time in order to undo their last mistake.

I enjoyed the narrative voice for the most part and the twists and turns kept me turning the pages.

The only reason that this doesnt get the full 5 stars from me is because there were times regularly through the novel where I just didnt like Arlo at all. In places, that detracted from the enjoyment of the story.

Overall, 4 stars from me.
Michele Young
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A slow start, but then as Arlo becomes more in control of setting time back and redoing his actions, the book becomes more interesting. I found the end tricky to understand, and had to reread it a few times and even then I’m not sure I understood it, but overall a solid 4 stars for a thought-provoking read.
Alex Sheldon
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An absolute page-turner with a very engaging premise.

Heather Child has managed to weave a clever story that goes in several places and with a writing style that I found impressive and could easily get absorbed in.
Liz Cooper
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Interesting premise, long winded telling.
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Harris
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm grateful to Orbit for a free advance copy of The Undoing of Arlo Knott to consider for review.

Following up the success of last year's Everything About You, which explored SF ideas about a future of virtual and augmented reality, Child returns with a more fantasy driven story, focussed on a central idea and its consequences: what if you could turn back time, undoing moments and unpicking mistakes?

Arlo Knott is introduced in childhood, a happy child whose life is about to change forever. After
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Arlo Knott has a talent that defies definition, and therefore understanding. Though painfully normal in every other way, with ambitions, an unfulfilled love, a troublesome sibling and a disappointing dad, Arlo’s secret comes to dominate and shape his life. A family tragedy triggers the realisation, in the most dramatic way possible, that Arlo can, with a small effort, reset time. That he can return to a point before an action, an incident, and do things differently, or ensure that things turn ou ...more
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-s
If waves of regret could have washed me so far backwards, they would have done so already 

* * * *
4 / 5

Enthralling and fascinating, unsettling and haunting, The Undoing of Arlo Knott is definitely an interesting read. The story of Arlo Knott bobs and weaves, ducks and dodges along the entire timeline of his life and what a life it is. There is something bleak and disturbing and warped about Arlo, and it makes for such an engaging read.

I was a magician all right, twenty-four hours a day

When Arlo i
Cassandra MADEUP BookBlog
A few comments about the book, the first is that if you enjoy something that will have you so involved in the characters loves that you have to keep going to see where this is going, you will love this. However, if you want a story where it is action packed from start to end, has a clear and simple storyline with a ‘bad guy’ and ‘good guys’ who are clear to determine, perhaps miss this.

I absolutely adored the fact that this story so wonderfully wove the past and present, it’s very cleverly writt
Nicole Sweeney
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Review originally posted on The Bibliophile Chronicles.

I became completely hooked on the tale of Arlo Knott. The story follows Arlo as he explores the rare gift he has – he can rewind time. Not by months or hours but only by a few minutes, enough to be able to make predictions, but not much else. We see Arlo attempt to understand his gift, and use it to write the wrongs of his past.

This is just the kind of book I love. It’s a story of family and life, with that little science fiction twist throw
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Heather Child's two novels EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU and THE UNDOING OF ARLO KNOTT are published by Orbit (Little, Brown).

Heather lives in Bristol, UK. Alongside writing she has had an eclectic career in charity marketing and communications, and currently works in sustainability.

You can find out more about her novels, including discussion questions for book clubs, at or follow

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