As Thomas Wolfe wrote, one can't go home again, but that hasn't stopped television producers who hope to revive old programs from trying. Even characters in novels are getting into the act, as readers of Reboot, Justin Taylor's exuberant satire, will discover. One such character is David Crader, a star on Rev Beach, a mid-2000s "Dawson's Creek meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer" show about a beach with a "supernatural underbelly." Now David is almost 40, living in Portland, Ore., and hasn't appeared on screen in nearly a decade, thanks to a drinking problem. Mostly sober now, he runs a restaurant that closed for a year during the Covid-19 pandemic, and he stays financially afloat thanks to his role as the voice of Shibboleth Gold, the protagonist of a hugely successful "roguelike video game" with "beaucoup awards and downloads."

Rev Beach became popular again during lockdown, so when David attends a fan convention in Los Angeles, Grace Travis, his former co-star and wealthy first ex-wife, recruits him to round up the old cast for a reboot. That cast included Shayne Glade, who played the show's half-vampire dreamboat, and Corey Burch, the "Designated Fat Kid" who has since become a "Q-pilled anti-vax activist." Taylor (Flings) packs a lot into this novel, including a subplot about David's second ex-wife and six-year-old son. The result is like an overflowing tureen: the stew is tasty, but less might have been neater. Despite its excesses, the novel is great fun, with witty gibes at pop culture, conspiracy theorists, and the cult of celebrity. Remakes have their pleasures, but clever, original novels are worth tuning in for. --Michael Magras, freelance book reviewer

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