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Reincarnation Blues
by Michael Poore
Del Rey, $27.00, 371 pp
Published: August 2017

This book is wildly episodic.  It says so much and it says so little.  And, yes, these comments reflect my whole experience reading this book.

Everyone gets 10,000 lives to achieve perfection.  If you do, then you move on.  Milo has been stalling for 9,995 lives and has just five lives left to get it right.  It’s never said what happens if one doesn’t.  But it doesn’t really tell you what happens when you do.  It’s just that kind of book.  Milo has been in love with Suzie for thousands of years; Suzie isn’t exactly what you might expect.  The stories hopscotch around time and space while Milo experiences one life after another.  Time not really bothering to constrain itself linearly; Milo often finds himself remembering a past live that was thousands of years in the future.  Sometimes Milo comes so close to perfection and sometimes he seems to sabotage his own efforts.  I think that’s because he’s afraid of losing Suzie; moving on without her, you know.  Since Milo tends to remember quite a bit about his former lives, I expected him to show growth towards perfection but that doesn’t really happen. Mostly he seems to just make the best of every situation; challenging the reader to decide if Milo is really making an awesomely brave decision or just making the best of a horrible situation.

It’s like a fascinating wild train ride with the train reeling half on and half off the tracks.  I loved the little vignettes of lives.  There was a hint of a unifying story arc that never really coalesced for me.   I both loved this story and was intensely disappointed.  I really wanted some awesomely clarifying moment when the author made the whole universe understandable.  Yeah, I know…a bit much to expect, right?  But he had me going there for a while.

Mostly I just didn’t get it.  I know Milo was expected to learn from each of his lives and become awesome but mostly he remained concerned about his own wants and needs.  And I’m not so sure that isn’t the right thing to do.  What is the right thing to do?  Does the universe expect one to self-sacrifice?  And what makes that person better than others?    Maybe it all is a trap…  And who judges? 

Yes, I’m rambling…the whole damn book rambles. Read it.  Think about it.  And if you figure it out – tell someone.  ~~ Catherine Book

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