I have to give credit to Jim Tierney, who designed the beautiful cover of this book.
As for what’s inside the book, I was a bit disappointed. I discovered this book in my readers’ advisory class as a readalike to Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde (which I highly recommend). It was on my immediate to-read list for when I graduated, which may have been my downfall. I was excited to read this book for an entire year. It might have been difficult for any book to meet those expectations, unless it was the most exciting book to have ever been written and also handed you a cupcake when you finished it.
Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore is a work of fiction that floats between genres, the same way the chapters float through time and space. It follows Milo, who has lived almost 10,000 lives. If Milo doesn’t achieve “perfection” by his 10,000th life, he disappears. But Milo doesn’t want to achieve perfection, because he and Death (aka Suzie) are in love, and if Milo achieves perfection, they’ll never see each other again. Each chapter tells a different life story. It starts off by telling some of Milo’s most interesting lives, and then shifts to his last few lives without letting the reader know right away. The lives are not linear, but Milo’s later lives do tend to be in the future, giving the book a more sci-fi feel.
I love the idea of mixing science fiction and romance, but this wasn’t quite what I had in mind. One of my favorite aspects of a good romance novel is that the reader gets to know the characters intimately. They have complex personalities that are slowly revealed as they interact with the plot. Reincarnation Blues is a bit short on complex characters, even in the case of Milo, but especially when it comes to Suzie. The focus is on the plot, which has so much going on that it should feel fast-paced, but it doesn’t. The micro-plots are moving so fast that, if you skip a page, you’ll be on a different planet with no idea how you got there. But it takes 100 pages for the larger plot to move an inch. It feels like a roller coaster that keeps moving toward the peak but never gets there.
I am not one to power through a book I’m not enjoying. I will 100% put down a bad book. But I wanted to like this so badly. It took me two months to get through it, but I was convinced that the end would make it all worth it. Which leads me to the moment that I put down the book…
SPOILERS AHEAD. CONTENT WARNING: RACISM.
In Milo’s final life, he ends up on Europa living in a primitive civilization that is forced to work for people in spaceships. The air is toxic and everyone is slowly dying of cancer. The people in this civilization are described as being dark-skinned and walking around naked. The people in the spaceships are light-skinned. This metaphor is as heavy-handed as an over-labeled Ben Garrison comic. We get it. But for some reason, the author (and it would seem the editors at a branch of Random House–really?) decided it would really help the reader understand the relationship here if the white people in the spaceships called the people on Europa “moon-n******.” Not once. Not twice. Three times. This book was published in 2017 and takes place in the future, in space. There was no reason to use this term. Nothing would have been lost if the author had changed this to any other insult. I get that the author wanted to inject modern language into every story, regardless of whether it made sense or not, but you can do that without using highly offensive and triggering language.
(Husband’s comment: “Wow. This guy is really poore at metaphors.”)
This book is worth passing, in my opinion. There are some good moments. I occasionally laughed, but the overall experience wasn’t worth it.