Wednesday, April 15, 2009

'The Reincarnationist' by M.J. Rose

Do most people learn from their mistakes and I am one of the few that fall for the “oh, so fantastic” blurbs printed on the covers of books time and again? Or do we all stubbornly buy books just because other writers supply the words of praise? One thing is certain: when I read blurbs such as “M.J. Rose delivers a tale that goes beyond chills and thrills” or “One of the most original and exciting novels I’ve read in a long time, with a premise so delicious I’m sick with envy I didn’t think of it myself”, I question literary skills of authors who wrote them. The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose does go beyond “chills and thrills” straight into boring and disappointing, and its premise might be “delicious” but if it’s one of the most original and exciting novels the author read, then he must reading some really awful books.

The thought behind The Reincarnationist is, admittedly, original. Josh Ryder, who is a photojournalist, falls a victim to a bomb attack while working on an assignment. He barely escapes death but he also starts experiencing déjà vu’s and flashbacks to ancient times where apparently he is a pagan priest in love with a Vestal Virgin. The flashbacks intensify when he visits a newly discovered tomb in Rome. They become really violent and Josh, in his desperation to find answers, turns to a research facility that deals with past-life experiences and reincarnation. So far so good but then it really gets unnecessarily complicated, with many other people starting to experience the same sort of flashbacks and Josh, having apparently not one past-life but two.

I was sorely disappointed by this book. Because the premise appealed to me a lot, I thought I was up for quite a good ride. But it wasn’t meant to be. Up until about 2/3 of the book I kept waiting for the real action to start happening, around midway through I figured out who the mysterious villain was and the ending was completely anti-climactic. Sure, there was a lot of running around, plenty of different characters but they were not exciting at all, actually they fell rather flat. The worst part was the ending. Not only was there no big surprise as to who stood behind the killings and the theft, but also it had the wait-for-the-next-installment, to-be-continued ending. If there is a thing I hate about books, it is this type of ending. If a writer is good, a reader doesn’t need to be tricked into buying another book of theirs. If on the other hand, an author feels insecure about their book to be a stand-alone one or simply knows it needs trickery to encourage further sales then I simply say, “Thank you very much but I think I’ll pass”.