Reincarnation Blues

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 23 Oct 2017

Member Reviews

In Reincarnation Blues, Milo is the ultimate slacker. He’s lived thousands of lives, but he still hasn’t reached perfection. Instead, he just wants to spend his time in the afterlife with his girlfriend, Susie, who also happens to be one of the incarnations of death. They’ve been together for more than eight thousand years, give or take, and Milo’s primary goal in the afterlife is avoiding transcending to the oversoul so that he can spend eternity watching TV on a couch with Susie.

Things get complicated, as they often do, when Mama and Nan, the caretakers of the afterlife, explain to him that he is about to run out of lives. Every soul gets no more than ten thousand reincarnations, and he’s down to his last five. If he can’t reach perfection and join the oversoul, Mama and Nan will push him off a floating sidewalk into nothingness and oblivion.

Milo thought that all he needed to do was be a wise man, which is why he’d spent his most recent life dispensing wisdom from fishing boat, but it turns out that perfection isn’t that simple. Part of the problem is that every life he lives feels more like killing time until he dies and gets to go back to Susie. Even still, Mama and Nan’s warning scares him into action, and he decides that he’ll do anything he can to reach perfection and avoid dissolving into nothingness.

The conceit of this book means that we follow Milo over the course of a dozen or so lives, each stranger than the last. It’s a bit like reading a collection of short stories with a through-line and common main character. The tone of the book is drily funny throughout, which is helpful because several of Milo’s lives are bleak or downright horrifying.

I will say that there is a point about halfway through the book where it almost lost me. Milo reincarnates somewhere far in the future as a young man with a promising future, but he is falsely accused of rape and sent to a nightmarish prison where the other prisoners rape and torture him.

If the trope of a false rape accusation wasn’t bad enough, the sheer unpleasantness of Milo’s life in prison started to drag the book down for me. However, I hung in to see how things played out, and I’m glad I did, because the end of the chapter redeemed itself. That said, several of Milo’s lives do happen in dystopias, so don’t go into this book expecting a happy time.

Reincarnation Blues is hilarious, moving, shocking and occasionally disturbing. The result is a wonderful coming-of-age story if those can happen to someone after they’ve lived close to ten thousand lives. Maybe a coming-to-wisdom story? Highly recommended.
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I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One of my New Year's resolutions was to try to be more generous in my book reviews. But then something like Reincarnation Blues comes along and it's just really hard to stick to that promise... I think I'd mind the flaws - the inability to imagine life as anything than what it's like in the author's own North American and VERY male present - less if this were a book that didn't take itself so seriously. What I mean is, this book clearly presents itself as at least semi-serious, like it's got some sort of important message and that it conveys some universal truth about life and what matters etc. Well readers, it turns out that what matters are dumb sexist cliches and modern American stereotypes about how social life works (even if the story is set thousands of years ago in India or wherever). So there you go.
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This book defies genre.  It took me months to read it, but each time I picked it up, it was as if I had never left it at all.  Milo is a man in a dangerous predicament - he keeps being reborn, but he is nearly at the upper limit of chances he has at rebirth before he must achieve Enlightenment, or cease to exist.  Milo - and his crazy entourage (which includes his girlfriend Death) try and figure out the exact right conditions for him to achieve Perfection in each life.  This style of writing on this is very wry, which contributed to its feeling of being extremely readable.  The worlds built and the life scenarios that Milo experiences are diverse and imaginative.  At times, I wasn't a fan of the arbitrariness of juvenile, sexual, or graphic jokes that were thrown in - it took me out of the experience.  Overall, I enjoyed this read and think others would enjoy it as a totally unique experience in itself!
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I had tried multiple times to read this. Unfortunately, it never grabbed my interest. I appreciate the opportunity to have had the chance to read it though.
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Milo is an old soul - he has lived 9995 lives so far and has yet to achieve perfection. In fact he isn't even sure he wants to achieve perfection as he is in love with Death (or rather a Death - Suzie). This has to change when he is informed that every soul has in fact only 10000 lives to get it right or it will be erased.
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A quirky love story that might not be for everyone. I'm not normally into quirky or romance but the characters grabbed me and refused to let go until the book was done. Give this one a shot, it might surprise you.
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Before it came out Reincarnation Blues was one of those book that got so much hype and good press, but those book often aren’t all they are hyped up to be. The general opinion I am observing from other goodreads reviews was that you either really liked or didn’t. I was one of those people that really wanted to like it, but just couldn’t.

Reincarnation Blues is a book about Milo and his seemingly never ending affair with Death (who also goes by Suzie). Milo is in love with death and in order to continue loving her he must continually reincarnate, 9,995 times to be exact, until he reaches perfection. It is also a story about Milo’s own personal journey as he seeks perfection. About how he grows and what he learns. Each chapter is one of Milo’s lives, that the reader is thrust into. We learn and grow as he does as he continues to question what does spiritual perfection look like? Each life is different sometimes appearing as woman, or men, or cyborg and each life is filled with its own unique experiences. 

Maybe its not the story itself I have a problem with but just the strangeness of some of the experiences within his lives. His experiences include everything from being a cyborg in space, to a religious prophet figure, to a little girl.  The long and short of it is, it was just too weird for me. While I find the concepts of the story itself very interesting, as it does legitimately ask the question how do we find spiritual happiness? The author’s writing style was very different and just to strange for me and the way he goes about answering the question, to me, was not particularly well done. Or maybe it’s the fact that I find the concept of reincarnation not very interesting. 
It is definitely a book that is very different, and while I enjoyed picking something up that was not the norm for the types of books I normally read, the author’s dry, to me, writing style, was just not something I particularly enjoyed. Although I liked the basic concept of the story, and  I also like how each chapter was a life, almost like reading several novelias within one, it really lost my interest about half way through. That being said, the character development within the character of Milo was one of the most interesting and successful aspects of the story, how as he continued reincarnating his views about life, and his own spiritual experience, changed and grew. Also Poore’s descriptiveness pros, in how he described some of the worlds was particularly I thought well done. 

If you like books that take you through all corners of time and space, more of a scifi feel than fantasy, and you like weird strange stories than I would definitely recommend this book. Thank you to #netgalley and the publishers for an E-ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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This was a great story but my problem with this book is it seemed to drag. There was just so much of the book that didn't seem needed. I understand the need for background especially on Milo but I think if it had been cut down a little it would have been better. So I had to take one star away for that. I enjoyed the characters and the different story lines especially the end.
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A comic and yet, philosophical take on life and the human condition. The character of Milo through all his incarnations was interesting and likeable to follow, good as there were many lives and spans of time in which we did. I found myself rooting for Milo and Suzie and their story set against the backdrop of the cosmos.
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This might just be one of those books I reread a few years out. I didn't know what to expect and don't know how to adequately describe it, but I recommend it. Geesh, feeling the pressure of not screwing up your next reincarnation. When Poore has another book out, I will be looking it up.
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This book was very confusing to me! I felt like there was too much going on and didn't see much science fiction going on.
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Published by Del Rey on August 22, 2017

Reincarnation Blues begins with the protagonist, Milo, being eaten by a shark. Milo has died almost ten thousand times since 2600 B.C. but still, being eaten by a shark isn’t a pleasant death. His most recent life revolved around fishing and drinking, which didn’t earn him many points on Judgment Day. The fact that he’s having sex with Death (when he's not alive) doesn’t improve his standing with those who give judgment, but falling in love with Death is never a good idea.

Sadly, Milo’s first life was his best, and the rewards bestowed after each subsequent death have dwindled. His hopes of reaching Perfection quickly ended centuries before his current death. But Milo enjoys living imperfect lives; he’s decided that Perfection is overrated, much to the consternation of the spiritual guides who encourage or chastise him after every death. But Milo is running out of lives. He needs to get it right soon to avoid Nothingness.

The novel skips around among Milo’s thousands of lives, not giving much attention to his stint as a catfish (that one was a punishment). Milo’s most interesting lives include the one he was living when most life on Earth ended (not long from now), the one he lived inside a prison made from a hollow asteroid after humanity spread to the stars, and the one in which he discovers that Buddha has Alzheimer’s. But there are many other lives, and they all teach him something, even if the lesson is that it’s not smart to reach for deadly spiders.

As you might expect, a novel about the difficulty of reaching perfection comes with messages. One message is that people can’t be productive if they are angry or afraid. Another is that people are shaped by when and where they are born (Milo appreciated the lives in which he knew Muslims were evil because he was born a Christian, and those in which he knew Christians were evil because he was born a Muslim, since God was making it easy for him to identify evil). Another is that (perhaps because of how we are shaped by the place and time of our birth), overcoming limits and achieving Perfection (or even decency) isn’t easy.

But the real message is that living is itself a form of Perfection. The better your life, measured in terms of how you help others, or at least avoid harming them, the more rewarding your life will be. That’s a good message, and Reincarnation Blues teaches it with a great deal of humor and very little preaching. It’s easy to root for Milo and his girlfriend Death, because they’re just ordinary people (well, except for Death), doing the best they can with the lives they have. Or maybe not the best they can, because Milo has a tendency to veer us away from Perfection, but the story offers hope that living a meaningful life is an attainable goal, and that placing an emphasis on love and compassion and helpfulness is the best route to make a life worthy — even if we might have to do it a few thousand times more before we get it right.

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Del Rey and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Reincarnation Blues.  I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

When you have 10,000 chances to get it right, what happens when you neglect to achieve Perfection?  Milo has tried many times, but the failures are tinged with sweetness.  Meeting with Death - Suzie, as he calls her - before a new life has consequences for them both.  With a handful of tries left, will Milo finally gain what he truly wants?

Reincarnation Blues has a great premise, but suffers from too much detail into Milo's lives.  At first, the details about Milo's resurrections were interesting, but the repetition made the book lag in the middle.  Because readers are introduced to Milo in the context of one person having multiple lives, it seems that his character development is incomplete.  In an attempt to show how Milo navigates his ever changing landscape, the author gave too many inconsequential details.  Reincarnation Blues is definitely different and may appeal to readers because of its take on life after death.
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Wow. What a book.
Milo is a guy who has lived thousands of lives. He’s lived in our far future and our far past. Sometimes he’s human, sometimes he’s some other form of being. He’s just on the wheel, living and dying and not reaching perfection.
Along the way he meets Suzie, an incarnation of Death. Milo and Suzie fall in love, the way that you do. 
This is Milo’s story, and we follow along and see a wide variety of lives, some happy, some sad. Milo is struggling to find completion or perfection.
There is so much heart to this book. Unlike so many fantasies that touch on spirituality, this one is not cynical. It’s funny, yes, but full of love.
This is the rare book that I immediately wanted to give to all my friends.  So go read it.  It’s been a hard year, and a story like this full of hope and compassion is exactly what you need.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy.
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Great story! The characters are fantastic and the countless lives of Milo made for great stories individually.
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A really enjoyable book. Milo is an endearing character, and I really liked the premise of a love story set over multiple reincarnations with more humour than sappiness. A lot of fun,
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It took me a very long time to get into this book, but once I did I was pleasantly surprised! Poore won me over with his writing - it's superbly written and incorporated a great mix of stories and times (sad, pleasant, grotesque and past, present and future). Would recommend to fans of Gaiman or Mitchell.
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This book was incredible! I don't even know where to begin.

To write about the concept of reincarnation and reaching "Perfection" is a grandiose task, but I believe Poore pulled it off flawlessly. Each snippet of life added something important to the story, and the narrative style helped even the darker parts read with humour and dry wit.

It was a long book, but it keeps you on your toes the entire time. There were plenty of twists and turns and the organization of all these twists was perfect. Though highly entertaining, it's more than just that—it's thought provoking. Really, really thought provoking.

The writing was fluid and just the right amount of descriptive, and even though there was lots of internal monologue it was perfectly balanced with the story. Some of the scenes are so vivid that they stick with you long after the book is over. And that ending? Perfection.
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I was really excited about this book, but found I had a hard time connecting with Milo and envisioning his world. It was not really my reading taste, I found it to be more of a "guy" book. I would recommend it to some people, but there was too much focus on how "bangable" each of his lovers were from his previous lives for me personally. I made it almost halfway through before I quit. On a petty note: I feel like Suzie was a terrible name choice. I know the character would have wanted a downplayed name, but she is a demi-god of sorts. I would have gone with a less cutesy name. Thank you for the reading opportunity!
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