You describe anything as “Neil Gaiman meets Kurt Vonnegut” and I am probably going to read it. Which is exactly how I ended up reading Michael Poore’s Reincarnation Blues. Well, that, and the ridiculously amazing cover. Seriously, just look at it.
(All reviews are spoiler-free unless otherwise noted.)
(From Goodreads) A magically inspiring tale of a man who is reincarnated through many lifetimes so that he can be with his one true love: Death herself.
What if you could live forever—but without your one true love? Reincarnation Blues is the story of a man who has been reincarnated nearly 10,000 times, in search of the secret to immortality so that he can be with his beloved, the incarnation of Death. Neil Gaiman meets Kurt Vonnegut in this darkly whimsical, hilariously profound, and wildly imaginative comedy of the secrets of life and love. Transporting us from ancient India to outer space to Renaissance Italy to the present day, is a journey through time, space, and the human heart.
Reincarnation Blues is easily one of the weirdest books I have ever read. And I kind of loved it. It started a bit slow, and I didn’t really know what I was getting into, but it turned into an incredibly well-rounded novel that kept me reading well after I should have gone to bed. Several nights in a row.
It was interesting watching a single character – Milo – go through so many reincarnations, from insect to billionaire playboy. I liked that in every lifetime, he was a different person, but was still believable as himself. There are quite a few different stories within this novel, each following one of Milo’s reincarnations, but they manage not to feel all that disconnected. And believe me, that is a huge feat, since the stories are set over thousands of years. There are space ships and feudal wars, budding world religions and futuristic technology. I also liked Death – aka Susie – quite a bit. I thought she was very well done as a character, and I like the idea of examining how Death feels about, well, being Death. She is obviously not human, but she feels that way, with human thoughts and emotions. This is a very character-driven novel, and I thought the characters were great.
The story as a whole did take me a while to get used to. There were times when I questioned whether or not Poore perhaps attempted a bit too much. Hopping back and forth in time takes some getting used to, especially since Milo lives his live out of order. For example, he might have been a billionaire space playboy in a past life, but he can still be reincarnated as a disciple of Buddha in the future. The timeline was a bit disorienting, unless you pay extremely close attention.
I did also like some of Milo’s lives more than others. Just like a short story collection, you’re bound to connect with certain stories more than others. There were some I wanted more of, and some I was glad to be done with. Specifically, there were a few that were almost shockingly violent, and they don’t occur until the second half of the novel, so they took me very off-guard, and I did actually have to put the book down at one point because I was so disturbed. So fair warning, even if a few of Milo’s lives seem relatively nice and cozy, there are a few others that take a nasty turn.
However, I really loved how the concept of reincarnation was addressed in this book. I thought it was both creative and thought-provoking. And I think that was ultimately my favorite part of this book.
★★★★☆ – Reincarnation Blues is a brilliant novel. I enjoyed reading it, and I can most definitely say that it is both, as advertised, “Neil Gaiman meets Kurt Vonnegut” (perhaps leaning a bit more Vonnegut than Gaiman) and something entirely unique. If you are a fan of either of those authors, I’d highly recommend this one. Just be prepared for something extremely disturbing around the mid-point in the book.
Reincarnation Blues will be available from Del Rey on August 22. You can preorder your copy on Amazon now.
This book was provided to me by the publisher and NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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