Reincarnation trope explores sci-fi, fantasy and romance

Michael Poore opens his book, “Reincarnation Blues,” by introducing the main character Milo, who at this point in time is living in the Florida Keys in 2017. From the second sentence — “It begins on the day he was eaten by a shark.” — it is clear this is no ordinary novel. Milo has lived and died nearly 10,000 times.

In truth, Milo has actually lived 9,995 times and he has only five more chances to “achieve wisdom and become One with Everything” — the ultimate goal of a perfect life. But Milo can’t seem to do that because he is in love with Death, or as he calls her, Suzie.

This is more than just a love story. It is a story about the power of spirituality and the obsession of true love told through Milo’s reincarnation journey through historical, sci-fi and fantastic worlds. In fact, it’s hard to classify a genre for this book — fantasy, contemporary fiction, romance, spirituality — it doesn’t quite fit anywhere.

In one chapter Milo is reincarnated as Buddha, in another he’s an insect, and in yet another he’s in a futuristic world where he’s wrongly imprisoned and graphically tortured. It’s a wildly creative and unusual story that’s sure to be enjoyed by Neil Gaiman fans.

Some of Milo’s reincarnations are difficult to read because of the pain and suffering humans inflict on each other; others are so short that the reader is left longing for more. What’s important is that after each death, Milo gets to spend time in the afterlife with Suzie, who wants him achieve perfection. But Milo is torn because he desperately wants to stop the reincarnation cycle and just spend time with Suzie forever.

This book is enjoyable for those who like short stories, as each life detailed by Poore is told in chapters. Milo lives lives that are profound, heartbreaking and absurd, all while making you think about what is important to you, what you would want to remember 10,000 lifetimes later and how you could live a life apart from the person you love.

The power of choice is a prevailing theme. In each life, Milo is confronted with a time where he knows what he needs to do to achieve perfection, yet he continually choses the path of death, which ultimately leads him to Suzie. In some lives, he is selfish and in others he is caring and compassionate. It’s hard to love and hate a main character so much but Poore’s writing and dialogue will make you do just that.

Reading this reminded me of my first experience with Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” — in which wisdom is mixed in with humor and even some political satire. In one afterlife, Suzie jokes with Milo about a life he messed up so bad, that he was sent back as a bug.

Just like in life, there are no easy paths to achieve greatness and perfection, but unlike Milo, we don’t get another chance to make things right.