Publisher: Del Rey
Release: August 22nd 2017
Received: Net Galley
Warnings: Death, Animal Death, Rape
I received a copy of Reincarnation Blues from Net Galley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Reincarnation Blues is an enchanting tale of a soul trying to achieve perfection despite his very human flaws. I found the tone to be reminiscent of Douglas Adams’ work, and thus greatly enjoyed it (there were times where I couldn’t stop thinking of Arajag and his struggles).
Warnings first: It goes without saying really that there’s a lot of death in this book. Sometimes it’s graphic, sometimes not. Animal violence and death also occur, but at lower frequencies. One of the lives portrayed experiences rape, abuse and slavery (which life it is becomes quickly evident, if that helps).
The title is both fairly accurate and descriptive in this case, as Milo struggles to figure out how to be perfect within the maximum number of allotted lives (ten thousand, for anybody that’s curious). One would think that many attempts would be more than enough, and based on the reactions of others around him, Milo has well exceeded the average attempts it takes a soul. I think that’s the very reason Milo is so relatable – he’s so human and has human flaws, including failure (obviously).
Despite the overall upbeat tone of voice for this story, the material covered at times does make it a bit of a heavy read – after all, in order for Milo to live again he must die, and not all of his deaths are easy (to read or experience, I imagine).
When I first realized I would be reading about multiples lives of Milo, I was concerned about two things: would the constant retelling become tedious (not enough variation, covering the same thing again and again) or would they make the character too different each time? I was surprised, but very pleasantly so, by the way Poore handled things. The perspectives for Milo’s multiple lives changes starting points (usually skipping childhood, unless there’s relevant information there), starting right in on where the character’s relevant events occur (basically, showing us the reason Milo chose that life, and what he was attempting to do with it).
I particularly enjoyed Milo’s last two lives – I won’t go into excessive detail about them, as I believe they are better told in the context of the story. With so many attempts already told, Poore had to present us with final attempts that upped the ante while still being entertaining. He did so with great success, wiping away any concerns I had about the conclusion of the novel.
Up until this point I haven’t mentioned one of the important characters of the novel, Suzie (aka Death, but she doesn’t like that name, so I would advise against calling her that). I felt that Suzie was a perfect foil for Milo. The connection the two of them had with each other was both their strength and weakness. A fact that becomes more and more obvious throughout the book. I think it’s the reason I liked the two of them together so much.
I have not read anything else by Michael Poore, but if Reincarnation Blues is an example of what he comes up with in that brain of his I’m very much interested in keeping an eye on his works from now on.