Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"The Reincarnationist" by M.J. Rose


This book has been all the rage lately on the blogs, and while I had never heard of it before nor read anything by this author, I impulsively ordered it from the library (as well as The Memorist, which I will read next). The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, so what I am about to say may not be popular...
First, a synopsis. After a near-death experience with a terrorist bombing, our protagonist, Josh, has flashback-type experiences indicating he has had at least two former lives. These lives have been filled with treachery and heartbreak, and they haunt him. The first life is one from 386 A.D., where he is a priest and has had an affair with a "Vestal Virgin". Vestal Virgins are like a nun of sorts, who are sacred and have taken an oath of celibacy. If they don't keep their pants on, they are sentenced to death by being buried alive. This particular virgin ends up pregnant, and the gig is up. She is ultimately buried with some precious stones (known as Memory Stones) that are said to have the power to unlock past lives of the owner. The tomb is discovered in the modern day, Josh is drawn to it, the Memory Stones are stolen, and death/kidnapping/mystery/chasing clues ensue. Josh hooks up with the lady archaeologist in charge of the dig to assist in chasing the missing stones. Josh also comes in contact with another lady who they discover to be his sister in his other previous life from the 1800's, and is connected with the Memory Stones as well. Its all a bit complicated!
I must say this story has all the ear-marks of Da Vinci Code - fast-paced cloak and dagger stuff, ancient mysteries, a dynamic male/female duo, etc. It is fairly easy to read, but the prose is pedestrian and character development is fairly non-existant. The subject matter of reincarnation, on the other hand, is very unique. I don't think I have ever read a book that revolved around this topic, and is intriguing to me. To me it was just a shame that with the potential of a topic such as this, that it wasn't executed as well as I would have liked. The ending was quite unsatisfying. Don't get me wrong! I don't need everythng to have a happy ending - my friends find my glee at dark unresolved endings a bit disturbing. But it almost seemed like the author ran out of steam or ideas and just ended it the quickest way possible. Maybe its just me - was I a cranky book critic in a former life?

6 comments:

Book Fiend said...

You may have been a cranky critic in a former life, but that's okay! Thanks for your thoughts on this book; I may think twice about reading it. Mostly because I don't like reading books that aren't well executed. It's just so draining. Are you still going to read the Memorist? I might skip ahead to that book and see how it is.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Yes, I am off to read the Memorist! I'm not sure I would be in a hurry to do so, as it looks to be of the same ilk, but it is from the library and I can only renew for so long! So I will shed my attitude and start anew...

Anonymous said...

I had the opposite reaction to the Reincarnationist. I thought it was great and the end the exact right end to a book about reincarnation but my book club read the book and there were about 2 of out 9 of us didn't like the end either - we talked about it a lot.

As for the second book... I have that in my cart at Amazon but haven't pulled the trigger yet.

- Alice without a google acount

Sandy Nawrot said...

Well, Alice you are definitely in the majority. I usually have my butt firmly planted in majority, but for some reason I just got my hackles raised on this one. I just started the Memorist, and so far, it seems to be an exact extension of the Reincarnationist. I think perhaps I should have given myself an attitude break, but I'm a hundred pages into it now so I have to roll with it. Thanks for stopping by!

C. B. James said...

Just wanted to let you know that I have tagged you.

You can find all about it here.

http://readywhenyouarecb.blogspot.com/2008/12/bookshelf-meme.html

I hope you like tags.

Matt said...

I have read books on reincarnation in the Buddhist context but not a fiction. This seems like a quick read with much thrill!