…The unraveling is the journey.
Four souls, locked in a love-quadrangle fraught with jealousy, dishonesty, and mistrust, live life after life through history, trying to fulfill their true destinies. Fate keeps bringing them together. Circumstance keeps pulling them apart.
I have a confession to make: My review here will be less than reliable. I read the book’s jacket cover description at Reading Rocks, and knew immediately this book had the potential to become my favorite book of all time, ousting AS Byatt’s Possession, which has held the #1 spot for over 7 years. The idea of two souls trapped by fate, living life after life, trying to make things right, is an extremely important one to me, and intensely personal. This is a story I’ve wanted to write for more than a decade now, a story I know I will never be able to write, because I am just too invested to do it justice. I would fail, miserably, and I can’t bear to fail something so beautiful. So, when I read the above review last night, I knew I had to get the book immediately. I prayed it was already released, then that my library system owned it, then that there was a copy at my branch, and lastly that it was not checked out. Relief flowed through me as I searched – all four were true. I went immediately to the library and checked it out, shoving all in-progress books to the side in order to give myself up to this one.
The story’s idea, of course, would get a 5++ in my book. That much is obvious. Because of how important this idea is to me, I was also predisposed to look at the book favorably. At the same time, the slightest problem would cause severe disappointment, creating an easy road toward a 1-Star rating. I’ve settled on 3 Stars. If the idea hadn’t been a 5++ to begin with, I might have given the book 4. But even that, you have to take with a grain of salt.
It’s very hard for me to review this from an unbiased standpoint, so with everything I’ve already said, I’m just going to explain why Reincarnation did NOT become my all-time favorite book. Concisely, it was just too simple. That’s not necessarily bad, but I wanted something far more in depth, far more subtle, with undercurrents and a prism of symbols to dissect, more like there is in Possession (another intensely personal story for me, on a related theme). This is one book that I think I would have preferred to NOT be YA. I wanted more academic writing, a far longer book, a sharper drawing of characters. While it was obvious Weyn did a lot of research for the various historical settings, I wanted more, much more, from this as well. I had trouble connecting with the characters because everything passed so quickly. Each life was so short. I didn’t have time to connect before they began the cycle again. I needed it to slow down, to linger. In short, it…just wasn’t what I was hoping for.
That doesn’t make it a bad book!! Again, if I had not been going into it with certain expectations, I probably would have enjoyed it a lot. It was mostly well written (only problems were some stilted dialog, and a couple places where it felt like the author’s voice instead of the characters’), and by the end, it really touched me. But…but…yeah. It was good, but it was not super-great, and without super-greatness, for me it could only be mediocre. Sorry.
On the other hand, the last time I got my hopes up about a similar idea was when the movie The Fountain came out. In that case, I was not only disappointed, but disgusted to the point of laughing the whole time in the theatre. Sorry to anyone who liked it, but wow, I thought that was a horrible movie, and it was not at all what I expected. On the other hand, Reincarnation was, plot-wise, exactly what I expected, and that’s why it doesn’t get 1 or 2 Stars on the scale. I just wish that it had felt less like the skeleton of a great work and more like a great work already. I’m still looking for the perfect book about reincarnation and soulmates.