What would you do with your lives if you could come back as someone or something new 10,000 times? Milo would spend it trying, and failing, to achieve Perfection while waiting to spend his in-betweens with his one true love: Death herself.
Any book that begins with death-by-shark-bite is a book I am ready to read. The concept of this book is so vast and we truly get to run the entire gamete of life and death with our narrator, Milo. Sometimes he lives as a man, sometimes he lives as a woman, and sometimes he is but a tree or a cricket. Occasionally we jump backwards to medieval times, and others we fly ahead to life on a spaceship, long after the demise of Earth. Poore’s ability to bend time, create new realities, and imagine death with vivid details is incredibly fun, yet somehow only a small part of why this book was such an enjoyable ride.
Reincarnation Blues is also a masterful blend of a huge number of genres. Much of the writing takes on a science fiction tone, introducing us to new civilizations and planets. It’s also darkly and acutely funny, completely romantic, and a bit too contemporary for comfort. What I love most about this book is how much I sat around thinking about it once I closed the book. Of course Poore leads us to think about the inevitability of death, but he also shows us the importance of living, learning, and presenting our most alive selves every day, because life is short. Milo has 10,000 to live, but even he strives to seek Perfection and eternal meaning.
Many of Milo’s lives shed light on humanities pitfalls, both those that exist inherently and those that we’ve created all by ourselves. The lives that stuck with me are those that show us how not to behave and those that sketch out the dark reality we are hurtling towards, thanks to our inability to take care of the Earth.
I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on one of the most intriguing parts of Reincarnation Blues: Death as a person. Usually, I think of death as an idea, a reality, and an event. I have never thought about Death as a person before, and certainly not as a sweet woman named Suzie. Her day job is collecting souls, but on the weekend she wants to open a candle store and spend time with her lover. I loved the humanizing and, even more, the feminizing of Death. As one of my genius book club members pointed out, life comes from the female so it only makes sense that death should be female as well. In this book, death is kind, not without flaws, and simply part of the cycle of all things. It was a really beautiful way of looking at something usually depicted as menacing and evil.
Overall? An impossible book to sum up in a review and absolutely worth the read. Pick this up if you’d like an adventure and some interesting topics to stew on.