Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Review - Reincarnation

by Suzanne Weyn

I've read many non-fiction books on the topic of reincarnation, and some of the stories within them are as strange as (or stranger than) fiction. So maybe it's not any wonder that there are so few fiction books that deal with this topic. I've read a few, ranging from the good (Alison Baird's The Witches of Willowmere) to the absurd (Alyson Noël's Evermore) to the downright awful (Michael Kube-McDowell's Vectors). Suzanne Weyn's Reincarnation falls somewhere in the middle. It wasn't the best reincarnation novel I've ever read, but it certainly wasn't the worst.

From the beginning, before I knew anything about the story, I knew two things: first, that there would be a lot of death; and second, that the two characters would have a satisfactory ending. When you're writing about multiple lives, death is a given. After all, one has to die before they can be reborn. And as for the ending... well, if there's not going to be a satisfactory conclusion, then what's the point of this particular journey? (I guess you can get away with that kind of nonsense in literary fiction, but this is, after all, a young adult romance novel. Do you really expect it to end with, "And they both died and never saw each other again for all eternity"?)

The plot loosely revolves around emeralds. In the beginning, a young Cro-Magnon woman and a young Neanderthal man die while fighting over a chunk of emerald. This event sets the rest of the story in motion. The two reincarnate over and over again, meeting in each life and discovering an inexplicable attraction to one another, while encountering the green jewels that often (but not always) lead to their demise. It's difficult to talk about characters, because they went by different names throughout the book. They were fairly easy to keep track of, though, as the author assigned characteristics to each one early on, and those characteristics kept repeating. The young woman, for instance, injured her foot in ancient Egypt; from then on, when a character showed up who had foot or ankle problems, you knew which reincarnated character it was. (I did find this to be a little over-simplified, but for storytelling purposes, it worked.)

This was a quick read, but at times it felt a little rushed. The last section, especially, seemed a little too short (and convenient). Unfortunately, due to the nature of the story, there was really not enough time for the author to properly develop any of the characters... and so we had to rely on those external characteristics I mentioned earlier (the bum ankle, the headaches, the jaw problems, the redhead who always wears yellow). I wouldn't have minded if the book was a little longer, especially in some sections.

I did like how the author incorporated different cultural beliefs into the story. When a character died, they saw what their culture had conditioned them to see. The prehistoric people saw a great bird carrying the spirits of the dead; the ancient Greeks saw the River Styx and Elysium; those who were raised in Western Christian countries saw the pearly gates and the archangel Michael. It would have been even more interesting had these two characters reincarnated in other places around the world (but they were confined to the Mediterranean region, Europe, and the U.S.A.).

All in all, it was an entertaining and interesting read. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone with an open mind who loves a good story.

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
Originality: 4/5

Overall: 3.4 out of 5


  1. Nice review! I think I'll pass on it though...I think the cover is nice!

  2. Your review is so nicely written :D
    I've been wanting to read this one because I've been sooo curious as to how the author manages to write this type of love story. the cover is really pretty too x)

  3. I just asked a student who was reading this book today what she thought of it! Thanks for the review.

  4. I love this cover -- I think it's captivating. I also want to read this bc I like the premise of it. Good review!

  5. I like the ideas of reincarnation in books. This books sounds like it is a nice love story easily read. I like the thought of having the physical features to recognize the people, sounds as it would make it easy to pick up the characters. Well, they really are destine to be together in all time if they keep finding each other over and over. (I think I would try to remember to stay away from the green stone though.)

    Great review.

  6. Thanks for the review. You might also enjoy "The Dust of 100 Dogs," a good YA story of a female pirate who must reincarnate 100 times as a dog before incarnating as a human again. Sounds odd, but it is actually very well-written by first time author A.S. King.

    My book, "I Found all the Parts: Healing the Soul through Rock 'n' Roll" chronicles my spiritual awakening and possible past lives with a famous rock band (and it's non-fiction!) :)

    The reincarnation theme is slated to be on FOX TV this Spring with a new series called "Past Life" based on MJ'Rose's novel "The Reincarnationist." Don't know if it is still slated to air, but it was as of this summer.

  7. Your review was really interesting. I'm pretty sure I won't be picking this one up though. It just doesn't feel like me. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Excellent review. This is on my bedside as we speak.

  9. Nice review. I read this and I agree. The story is a bit unbalanced at some places: fast paced where it needed to take a bit more time and slow paced when it needed to go a bit faster. But the story was convincing enough and it was a good read.