Published: 22 August 2017
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Category: Fantasy/Science Fiction/Humor
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.
Rating: 4 Stars
As Neil Gaiman is an auto-buy author of mine and this book got compared to his type of storytelling, it should be no surprise that I decided to try Michael Poore’s Reincarnation Blues out. In all honesty, even without that comparison, I still would have because the premise sounded intriguing enough that I wanted to find out what sort of person Milo was after 10,000 lifetimes and what happened to him over those lifetimes that led to his trying to reunite with Death and made him into whoever/whatever he was at the end of the book.
This is a story about a wise man named Milo.
It begins on the day he was eaten by a shark.
As an opening, this might not sound like a great beginning for Milo, but to be perfectly frank, it wasn’t what I was expecting and it elicited a chuckled from myself. I thought I, as the reader, was off to a fairly good start.
There are glimpses right away as to what kind of person Milo is now. After thousands upon thousand of lifetimes, he’s gathered a lot of knowledge together and is somewhat sought after for it. He lives a relatively quite life on his fishing boat, taking people out on excursions that, more often than not, turn into quests for information or solutions to their problems rather than a quest for the perfect catch of fish.
This particular life, being the first that we are introduced to as readers, hit me the hardest. While there wasn’t a lot of time to get used to Milo as a character, he was the main person and there was a sense of peace I drew from him, from his insight into himself and others, his dog Burt and his friend Arlene at the hospital he took care of that morning. It, frankly, sucked to let this “him” go.
His last words were “No! Fuck! No!”
I appreciated that this book was brutally honest and still funny. You think your last words, or the words of some guy that’s lived tens of thousands of lives, are going to be poetic? Well, odds are as evidence by those of Milo’s above, they aren’t. Maybe, but there are no guarantees.
After meeting Milo and getting the gist of who he is, we’re flung into the rest of his journey. There is insight into more of his deaths, some far more preferable than others, though are any really preferred? In any case, Reincarnation Blues takes us all over the world, including California, Sudan, China, and Vienna, among others, all looking toward reuniting with Death. It’s a complicated journey and while Milo makes comments on the times he’s known about the end coming, the times he’s been able to prepare such as it were, and the times the end has been a true shock (only once), it made me think about what the readers of this book would think about their own lives.
Aside from the depths of the story itself, the writing style lent itself to this series of lives in a way that going from one to the next never felt rough, never felt like I was missing something. Some of the lives were shorter than others, yes, but they didn’t feel cut off unnecessarily.
Would you want to know the end? Is being able to plan preferable or does it take away from living the life you’ve been given this time? I think a lot of it depends on what your view of the afterlife or afterlives is, but whatever that view might be, I think reading about Milo’s journey offers a lot of emotion that will resonate with people. There’s not just Milo on his journey, but a shark who was once a Strawberry Queen and more. Who might you have once been in this world? Who would you be in Milo’s position? Food for thought, that.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.