Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Reincarnation Blues

Title:  Reincarnation Blues
Author:  Michael Poore
Publication Information:  Del Rey. 2017. 384 pages.
ISBN:  0399178481 / 978-0399178481

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "This is a story about a wise man named Milo."

Favorite Quote:  "'Love' ... and 'in love' aren't always the same thing. 'In love' is a human thing. Chemicals. 'Love' is cosmic."

Reincarnation Blues is a most unusual love story. A man, Milo, lives almost ten thousand lives, reincarnated over and over again in a quest to achieve perfection. A cricket. A worm. A cow. A fish. A man. Another man. A woman. Another man. And so on. Life after life. Milo is not entirely sure what perfection is or if perfection is what he want. Actually, up until life number 9,996, he is unaware that perfection is the goal. He is just having a good time living.

He enjoys living, at least most of his lives. More than that, he enjoys his one true love in between lives. His love is Suzie aka Death. She is not human but rather an eternal being but not a god, perhaps something undefined. Suzie loves Milo but is not sure she wants to be Death anymore. She is tired of her "job" and would rather open a store in the afterlife, making and selling candles. (After all, she's only thought about this since the time candles were invented.

The premise goes that a human has ten thousands tries at life to get it right and achieve perfection. If the individual does, then he/she becomes part of the eternal perfection. If he/she does not and the ten thousand tries expire, then the individual disappears into nothingness.

Out of ten thousand lives, Milo has about four left. His reason for wanting to try to achieve perfection is not perfection but to get a shot at being with his beloved forever.

The telling of this story circles around and through and over and under multiple lives in a nonlinear fashion. The story of the different lives range from sweet to humorous to tragic as you would suspect life would in a span of 10,000 lives. In between are precious moments that Milo & Suzie are together.

This book is in turn a bit of science fiction, a bit of dry humor, and a bit of philosophical reflection on life. The individual reincarnations seem like somewhat jumbled, individual stories strung together. The love story of Milo and Suzie is the underlying thread that holds the book together.

The book is an interesting premise and an interesting execution. I like the characters, but the jumping time lines and the disjointed lives make the book a little difficult to settle into. I find myself reading a bit and then putting it down and then picking it up again only to then spend time figuring out where in time and place the book was. In addition, after a while, I start to look for something more than another of life. The connection and the "something more" does eventually come, but only towards the very end of the book. It takes perseverance to get there.

Suzie's character to me is actually the more intriguing one. After all, she is Death, but Death as a beautiful woman capable of empathy and love and other perfectly relatable human emotions. This book is very much Milo's story, but I would love to see more of Suzie's perspective.

The book is a unique play on a love story, and for that reason, will be memorable on my list.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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