Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

Reincarnation Blues

Michael Poore

As darkly enchanting as the works of Neil Gaiman and as wisely hilarious as Kurt Vonnegut’s, Michael Poore’s Reincarnation Blues is the story of everything that makes life profound, beautiful, absurd, and heartbreaking.

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A wildly imaginative novel about a man who is reincarnated over ten thousand lifetimes to be with his one true love: Death herself.

“Tales of gods and men akin to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman as penned by a kindred spirit of Douglas Adams.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

First we live. Then we die. And then . . . we get another try? 

Ten thousand tries, to be exact. Ten thousand lives to “get it right.” Answer all the Big Questions. Achieve Wisdom. And Become One with Everything.
Milo has had 9,995 chances so far and has just five more lives to earn a place in the cosmic soul. If he doesn’t make the cut, oblivion awaits. But all Milo really wants is to fall forever into the arms of Death. Or Suzie, as he calls her.

More than just Milo’s lover throughout his countless layovers in the Afterlife, Suzie is literally his reason for living—as he dives into one new existence after another, praying for the day he’ll never have to leave her side again.
But Reincarnation Blues is more than a great love story: Every journey from cradle to grave offers Milo more pieces of the great cosmic puzzle—if only he can piece them together in time to finally understand what it means to be part of something bigger than infinity. As darkly enchanting as the works of Neil Gaiman and as wisely hilarious as Kurt Vonnegut’s, Michael Poore’s Reincarnation Blues is the story of everything that makes life profound, beautiful, absurd, and heartbreaking.

Because it’s more than Milo and Suzie’s story. It’s your story, too.

Praise for Reincarnation Blues 

“The most fun you’ll have reading about a man who has been killed by both catapult and car accident.”—NPR
“This book made me laugh out loud. And then a page later, it made me sob. Reminiscent of Tom Robbins and Christopher Moore, Poore finds humor in the dark absurdities of life.”Chicago Review of Books
“Charming . . . surprisingly light and uplifting . . . It reads like a writer having fun.”New York Journal of Books

Advance Galley Reviews

I couldn’t get into this book. I’m sorry; but I was unable to finish.

Didn't get to finish the arc in time but was intrigued and bought the book, great decision because I loved it!

Penguin First to Read ARC. Rating : 4 of 5 stars. Ten thousand lives is how many you have to get it right. Milo tries but he loves Suzie (an aspect of Death) so you don't know if he's really trying to reach Perfection. An enjoyable read, dark but with some fun mixed in.

They say don't judge a book by its cover but I definitely fell in love with the cover and the title at first. I love everything about death and vampires (but no vampires in this book, don't get confused!). It's a love story that stretches for a thousand lives (but not years!)...with a Death herself (I like the idea that Death is a female). What I really liked is that novel consists of many various length segmented chapters. Sometimes they are short, sometimes they are longer. Sometimes story is clear and sweet and sometimes you might not understand what's happening. The main character is constantly rowing through such "dreams" (lives, actually). Well, I think it's a very good depiction what it's like when you have 1000 lives and each one of them is just a little fraction of your eternal time. Some people might be mightily distracted by such structure but for me that was the best thing when I look at literature from a deeper point not just the story itself. And that love story is so touching. When you want to be with someone but you can't so easily. Or do you ever stop and think what if Death doesn't want to be death? This book has a good level of depth but is wrapped in a popular style, so some snobs might miss out on this book.

This started out promising, but the download expired before I could get more than a few chapters in. Curious to know what happened next!

Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore is in turn a bit of science fiction, a bit of dry humor, and a bit of philosophical reflection on life. The individual reincarnations seem like short stories tied together by Milo and Suzie's love story. I like the characters, but the jumping time lines and the disjointed lives make the book a little difficult to settle into. However, the book is a unique play on a love story, and for that reason, will be memorable on my list. Read my complete review at Reviewed for Penguin First to Read program.

The first page of this book had me hooked. I loved every second reading this. Poore did such a great job getting the reader to fall in love with the characters while making them think about life after death. I couldn't put it down, and when I did take a break from it, all I could think about was what was coming next and what I could have been in my own past life. The sarcasm, the serious lessons, the love story. You will not want to put this book down. Well worth the read!

Without a doubt my favorite book of the year. Milo is a very old soul - he's nearing his ten-thousandth life, yet he doesn't have anything figured out yet. Except, well, he's in love with Death, and likes to see her, so he doesn't really mind dying too much anyway. This is one hell of a story, with strong imagery and a casual/sarcastic tone.

Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore was an enjoyable read for me. It had a light tone, even when topics were serious, and a lot of humor, mostly dry, ironic humor. There was a mix of science fiction, history, and philosophical inquiry as we join the main character, Milo, in his past lives through the centuries and worlds. They story takes us from early human history on earth, through humans leaving earth before it is destroyed by an asteroid, and human colonization of the Galaxy, with dystopias and utopias and everything in between. We follow the Milo on his path to perfection and enlightenment in his human lives along with his love affair with Death in the after life. There are long chapters that feature major advances and failures along the way and short chapters filled with snippets of several lives. These short chapters are where a lot of the humor can be found and I really enjoyed them. The writing style was easy to read and flowed smoothly. Some serous topics and issues are discussed but they don't weigh down the narrative because the style stays the same and they are addressed with the same sense of humor as the rest of the novel. Overall, really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to most any reader.

I liked this book a lot. An engrossing read with a great love story. It was a bit hard to get into, but I struggled on and enjoyed it.

I thought this book was going to be more quirky like The Hike but it was not as quirky as that. At some points it felt a little like Cloud Atlas with the different lives in different time periods. I struggled with my attention. Some parts had me hooked while other parts made me want to stop and read another book.

The premise of this book sounded interesting, but I just couldn't get into it. I think it was all a bit too Zen for me and I wasn't vested in any of the characters.

A Penguin First to Read e-book in exchange for an honest review. This books cover and synopsis had me interested but I was still surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Milo is nearing his 10 thousand life and was just given an ultimate, reach perfection or become nothingness. He thought he had unlimited chances to be born and reborn, to enjoy his time with Death, aka as Suzie because "who would like to be called Death." This story was funny, it was heartbreaking and it was definitely worth the read.

This is not my usual genre, but I am glad that I had the opportunity to read this book. I really liked the story. It was imaginative and inventive with a dash of Groundhog Day with a dash of This is your life. Milo was a great character to follow through his many lives. It was beautifully told. I would definitely recommend.

Eh, I must not have been in the right mood while reading this. It sounds like something I would normally love, but I didn't really like this one. From the beginning I wasn't crazy about the characters, and while reincarnation is a fun concept, it's not something I believe in, so it was a bit out there. Despite this, I'm thinking of picking this one back up later, because I was rushed to read it before it expired, and I often enjoy a story more if I can read it at my own pace.

I loved this book! Great concept! It held my interest from beginning to end. I will definitely be recommending it to others.

What an awesome story! This novel had me from the first page with its unique take on reincarnation as well as its storytelling style. The author goes about this telling this tale in two ways: first, there is Milo's story and we get multiple chapters taking us through the adventures of some of his lives; and second, we get Suzie, the incarnation of Death, and her own struggle to create her own fate. This novel made me connect so strongly with the characters. I cried, laughed, and sympathized with Milo and Suzie and the author did a fantastic job in making me invested in the fate of the characters. Simply put, this novel was engrossing and written amazingly well. It almost felt like a short story collection, with each reincarnation being a separate story - except it was better because the author managed to connect it all and create a cohesive plot. I really cannot rave more about this novel, but if you are looking for a very unique storyline, then please give this novel a shot! I guarantee you won't regret it!

Well this was a neat book. I loved the concept a lot and wholeheartedly believe in reincarnation. The many lives of Milo were interesting and pretty cool. Past, present, and future are all melded together to make Milo, at his nine thousand nine hundred ninety-fifth life, who he is. But then he finds out he only gets ten thousand lives before he becomes Nothing. I enjoyed almost everything about this book. What I didn't like was the ending. I liked it buuut it's not what I was expecting. I was expecting something different, not more of the same. But still a good book!

This book keeps things interesting by following two different tracks simultaneously. The reader gets to see Milo's many lives, and these vignettes feel like a collection of short stories. Meanwhile, there's also the over-arching story of Milo and Suzie that propels and keeps the reader connected through each vignette. The writing is charming, and the different ways that Milo attempts to reach perfection are thought-provoking.

Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore is a book with a very interesting concept and, at times, beautiful writing but it unfortunately could not hold my attention. Milo has lived 9,995 lives on Earth. He only has a couple more times before he can "get it right" before he can reach Perfection. If not, he becomes nothing. In the Afterlife, he falls in love with Death, who likes to call herself Suzie. She becomes his reason for trying to achieve Perfection and tries his hardest in his last few lives on Earth to be able to stay in her arms. The story was definitely enjoyable and it had its share of funny, dark and sweet moments, but I just felt like it was just droning on and on. Milo and Suzie were fantastic characters and I was intrigued with all of Milo's past lives and the ones he lives through the story. There was just something missing. I would recommend to lovers of sci-fi/fantasy.

I really enjoyed the beginning of this book. It's a very interesting concept. However, towards the middle it was too out there for me. The Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adam comparisons are definitely true. I found myself feeling the same way about this book as I do about Gaiman's: wanting to enjoy it but the writing was just not my style. I could see many other people enjoying it though!

Milo is in love with Death. Not as strange as it sounds when you consider that death is a beautiful, black-haired woman (and one of many deaths). Also, when you consider that Milo has lived and died thousands of times. Each incarnation of Milo is really kind of a short story, and these are strung like a necklace. The effect is really quite coherent, and Milo is amusing in whatever form. At the risk of sounding a little psycho-babble-ish, Milo's lives made me think about whether my own life is "interesting." His ultimate goal is to achieve "perfection." Not having done anything grand to qualify him for perfection is what is keeping him here, living life after life after life. Where the journey leads, you will have to read the book to find out. This is one of the unique reads of the year.

Funny - reminiscent of Christopher Moore and Tom Robbins

I couldn't read this one due to a download error. I'll have to make sure I grab it when it's out.

I absolutely enjoyed this book, loved the way one story was composed and intertwined with the 10,000 lives Milo has lived. It was amazing how different those lives were, how Milo’s personality changed in every life but his essence always remained the same, and how his love for Suzie made every single life worth dying for. There are over 10,000 lessons one can learn from Milo in this story, but the most important of them all was knowing that though we might only have one life, we’ve got a million opportunities to achieve “Perfection”.

Overall, I thought it was a pretty good book. I really wanted Milo and Suzie to end up together, and I love how Milo learned what worked (and what didn't work) from one life to the next. The stories of each individual life blended beautifully into the overall plot. I did laugh at a few parts, but i didn't think it was as hilarious as the blurb promised. Some parts were way darker than I expected and it really threw me off. I felt like the story dragged in the last third, but it really picked up once I got to the last 75 pages or so. I would give Reincarnation Blues a solid 3.5 out of 5.

What would it be like to live 10,000 different lives to be with the one you love- who in all reality can't really live as she, suzy is better known as Death and risk disappearing into the ether if you don't achieve perfection? Read this book and you will find out. This book fascinated me! I know Michael Poore's book was compared to Neil Gaiman, who I simply adore and have read all his written, even his essays, however I think Michael Poore's book is even better than a lot of Gaiman's stories. This comes from a creative mind filled with of a couple hundred stories of different lives that can be lead. The lives Milo leads are random, unique, ironic, continuous in some places and completely different at many, many times. Poore fleshes out all ages, all scenarios of what a life can be, even through all past histories and futuristic fantasies (those were my favorite.) All the while Poore tells the stories well. Even, chapter 14, "The Hasty Pudding Affair," where I didn't enjoy the prison sex allusions (3 times- no telling, no showing, just alluding) I loved, because of the detail that Poore does in all these lives Milo Lives! The story made me think- what would it be like to go home after accepting and becoming happy in a tough situation at 15 years old? Could you truly ever adjust? The characters are well fleshed out, the writing poetic at times, raw at other times which makes this book even better than I thought it would be. A must read and rated a 5 from me! I'll buy it just to read again, as I feel I might have missed a few great tidbits.

I loved this book. Comparing an author to Douglas Adams & Neil Gain an? Those are tremendous shoes to fill. Poorer did that easily and still set himself apart. When this book began Milo has lived thousands of lives. He enjoys being the wise man, old soul, until he learns it can't continue forever. Milo must achieve perfection before his 10,000th life or "your soul can be cancelled like a dumb TV show". There are so many interesting tales here, if you don't enjoy one, read on, it will change shortly. This book is poignant and witty. I hope I can read something as wonderful as this in all my lives.

This book was an unexpected delight. Michael Poore explores Milo's life through a series of reincarnations, which has the potential to be very challenging. After all, how can you possibly keep all the lives straight?! But somehow, Poore tells Michael's story with deft writing and a charming touch. Poore's vision here is unique and captivating--there aren't many ambitious books like this on shelves right now, and it's nice seeing a publisher take a bit of a "risk" here. (I use the term "risk" loosely, since this book really is beautifully written!)

I really tried to like this book but I couldn't get into it

Milo is the oldest soul. That's because after more than nine thousand reincarnations, he still hasn't managed to achieve Perfection. Throughout the novel, we're treated to several of his lives (and, admittedly, some are more interesting than others). Complicating this journey is the fact that Milo's lover is Death, but please, call her Suzie. How can Milo be expected to move on when after every death, he's reunited with his lover? This novel is part love story, part morality tale, and a whole lot of gorgeous, hypnotic writing.

We all live our lives, moving forward everyday until death, where rebirth awaits. Always learning, growing, and striving for perfection.  Milo understands this, after nearly 10,000 lives he feels like he’s become very wise… but not perfect- never that.  In each life he tries to be a good man, a wise man.  He loves and he lives, and then he comes back to the afterlife and his great love, Suzy.  Then the rules change.  You only get so many lives to reach perfection- and he only has a handful left.  If you reach perfection you become part of everything- the whole.  If you do not…. you become nothing.  Just… gone.  The rub?  Either way, no Suzy.  As we move back and forth between his lives and after lives we learn why reincarnation can really bring the blues. Oh… My… God.  A million thanks to First to Read for allowing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.  What a ride.  Beside Milo I was a caveman, a king, a criminal- an innocent man imprisoned- a milk maid, a wise man and a fool.  I loved the flow of the book, taking us from life to life and beyond.  The premise of the Afterlife struck me as unique as well and one that I adored.  Death was a trip.  I loved Milo and his crew, and found myself rooting for him through it all.  Five stars all the way.   On the Adult Content scale, there’s a bit.  Sexual  content is there, and a bit high in places.  Then there’s foul language and some violence.  I give it a six, but will still be letting my teen niece read it if she wants.

I enjoyed this book. It was different from what I usually read, which is a good thing! I loved the relationship between Milo and Suzie. I enjoyed reading about Milo's journey, how he finally achieved his ultimate goal, and then what happened to Milo and Suzie afterwards. It was also fun to read about some of MIlo's antics throughout his many lives and some of the lessons he learned (or didn't learn, depending on the life). Some of Milo's lives were a little difficult to read because of what happened to him or what he had to go through. One of the things that I loved most about the book is how Milo was able to retain some of his memories from his past lives and use that information in his subsequent lives. I also thought the ending was perfect. :)

Reincarnation Blues was very different from anything else I have read before. But I really enjoyed it. I liked that Milo keeps getting reincarnated to try and reach Perfection. And the love story between him and Suzie was very real and interesting. I also loved that we learn about a lot of Milo's lives and we get everything from ancient times, current times and in the very far future. Very imaginative!

this book was so unique and amazing! i was caught off guard by how much i enjoyed it. it's always wonderful to read a book and know you've never read anything like it - and likely never will. i'll remember this book for a while. it wasn't perfect but it worked for me. i'd give it 4 or 4.5 stars

While Reincarnation Blues is different from what I usually read I found it rather interesting. Story by story - life by life - we are introduced to Milo's reincarnation and follow his way towards perfection. The concept is unique, the writing is beautiful and I found the characters - Suzie in particular - quite lovely. Although a bit dragging at times, this book would give you something to think about.

I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me of a Christopher Moore book with less winking and nudging. Instead, it was like a deep, rich gravy of stories all simmered together. I recently took it on a trip to see my in-laws and enjoyed that I could put it down and pick it up when I had to stop while traveling (even though I didn't want to.) Additionally, the often zen themes kept me in a great mood.

I really enjoyed this book. Reading about Milo’s past lives and all the people he got to be was a unique experience. I loved all of the characters. The relationship between Milo and Suzie (Death) was adorable, as was the character Suzie. Milo’s story winds up being more complicated since his story involves all of his lives, all of his stories. Reincarnation Blues manages to contain and tell all of his stories without it being confusing.There are parts that are difficult to read due to the intensity of the situation however I felt that everything was handled and told very well. Since I don’t believe in and I’m not too familiar with the idea of reincarnation, I cannot say whether this was handled properly. As an outsider, I felt it was.

Though lauded as the next Neil Gaiman, if I had read Reincarnation Blues going in blind, I would have sworn it was written by Terry Pratchett. Like the works of both, however, Michael Poore's novel will appeal to readers across genres -- readers of fantasy and sci-fi, historical fiction, and romance would all enjoy and appreciate this book. Milo's journey for perfection is told through Poore's witty language, sprinkled with wise lessons. I also have a particular soft spot for works that play with time, so Poore's artful exploration of each of Milo's five remaining lives played to that interest.

The idea of living 10,000 lives in an attempt to spend eternity with your soulmate, even when that soulmate is Death, is romantic in it's own bizarre way. Michael Poore takes us through many of Milo's lives, though never in any kind of exact order, because, as the book explains, time isn't really exact. Not in the grander scheme of things. There were lives I wish Poore had shown more of, and lives I wish he'd shown a bit less of, but that's my own personal taste as a reader. Early in the book, there were a few times where I felt it could have been a collection of short stories about different people's lives, where the male lead all had the same name. Overall, he made Milo's struggle to find Perfection clear. I really enjoyed the book. Was not familiar with Poore's other book, but will definitely be on the look out for more from him in the future.

I did not expect to like this book, going into it. It's not the sort of book I would typically pick up, and though the premise seemed interesting, it didn't grab me. But I loved this book. The writing was beautiful and profound, but still very humorous. The concept was wonderfully executed; the plot, though sometimes a bit slow (which I personally felt was very fitting), was fascinating and gripped me from the start. The characters were developed in such a way that was subtle yet powerful, and it made for an extremely strong story. In short, the novel was wonderfully crafted and extremely thought-provoking. It easily could've been a favorite of mine, but, unfortunately, a couple of things really, really bothered me. First, I am a trans person, and there is a scene in this novel that felt very transphobic to me. The sentence "A woman who could have been a man, except that she was naked, so you could tell," as well as the phrase "man-woman" (both found on page 154) particularly bothered me. While it's true that it isn't clear if the person is actually transgender, or just looks like they could be, reducing gender to genitals in such a way is never kind, and "man-woman" is a very offensive phrase. Yes, this is only a scene, but it stuck with me, and made the rest of my reading experience much more difficult to enjoy. Also, the words "bipolar" and "retard" were both tossed around as casual insults (on pages 279 and 293, respectively), which I felt was very ableist. Again, it was only two words, but they made this book to go from being one of my favorites to a book that really annoyed me. Which is particularly upsetting, to me, because most of this book was absolutely stunning.

Thanks to a carefully crafted plot arc and well-defined characters, Michael Poore manages to bring the individually unique tales of 10,000 different lives together in a cohesive story arc. Milo goes through the world as a fantastically rich playboy, a disciple of Buddha, an elite scientist, a slave on one of Jupiter's moons, even a cricket, yet they all shine through as being the same core character, rendering what should be 10,000 jumbled, discordant tales into one bittersweet arc about defining perfection and defying the cold, inflexible laws of the universe. Some of the stories were more intense than others, particularly toward the end as Milo's chances to reach Perfection come close to running out. They speak to justice, love, sacrifice, and finding contentment in all forms - even cricket - while always maintaining a pervasive sense of humor as Milo and his girlfriend, Death, reminisce about his previous lives. I thought having Milo spend time in the world of the afterlife in between each earth life grounded the story nicely. It provided a constant in what is otherwise an eclectic mix of personalities, stories, settings and lives. Reincarnation Blues is a surprisingly touching read about finding your own path, defining perfection means, and defying the universe itself to seek out love.

I really enjoyed this book. While it had some funny and light hearted moments, this book was pretty profound and deep. It was poignant and touching. I definitely took a lot of the books' life lessons with me and it gave me pause to reflect on my own life.

How many lives does it take to achieve perfection? Milo, the oldest human soul, having lived 9,995 lives, is about to find out. He isn't exactly chomping at the bit to reach perfection and instead enjoys his time between lives hanging out with his love, Suzie, also known as Death. Their relationship can be complicated, but they love each other and want to be together. The only problem is that it throws off the universal balance, and Milo finds out that he only has 5 more chances at achieving perfection or he gets thrust into nothingness. How does one achieve perfection and how will it affect his relationship with Suzie? This book was a lot of fun to read. The story was different and funny and enjoyable. The characters are likable, and I found myself rooting for Milo on his quest for perfection and sympathizing with him when he got it wrong. The glimpses into his various lives was entertaining, and I was wishing that some of them continued more thoroughly. The afterlife was amusing and I found the end satisfying. There are even some life lessons to take with you, after all, Milo is the oldest, wisest human soul, and we can all benefit from what he's learned. Reincarnation Blues was a quirky, enjoyable read that held my interest from beginning to end, and I would highly recommend it.

I absolutely loved this book! It is wildly imaginative and I found myself completely absorbed in all the different lives and afterlifes that Milo lives, especially the ones set in the distant future. So it's not just one story but many different stories in different time periods lived by the same character. But in all these lives the constant is Death, or Suzie as she likes to be called. And Milo happens to be in love with her. So he tries to grow and learn from his mistakes with each passing life, since he gets 10,000 attempts to achieve the perfection of his soul. It places some very philosophical questions about life and death, and what is important and what is not. And how in the end love really is the most powerful force.

If you enjoy Neil Gaiman works, you'll probably enjoy Reincarnation Blues. The story is "profound, beautiful, absurd, and heartbreaking" as we follow Milo through his thousands of lives in an attempt to reach Perfection. It was interesting to follow Milo through different time periods and as different beings (a tree, cat, etc.). I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, but it felt a little dragging towards the end. I almost felt myself losing interest. Regardless, it was an interesting and unique read. I recommend if you're a fan of fantasy with a touch of dark morbidity.

Unfortunately this one got away from me before I had a chance to read it. Will have to check it out at a later date.

The information from the book description sums it up perfectly: "Michael Poore’s Reincarnation Blues is the story of everything that makes life profound, beautiful, absurd, and heartbreaking." We follow Milo through his thousands of lives, deaths, and afterlives. True to life, he's not always an adult when he dies. Sometimes it's painful. Sometimes it's heartbreaking. Sometimes it's stupid. Sometimes it's just comical. What's different, though, is his relationship with Suzie, who is actually Death. After every death she meets him on the side of the river between the worlds. Around page 100 I actually began to care about what happened to these two and hoped their story would ultimately end well. What I really enjoyed was that the story was not told in sequential order. We jump forward and backward through Milo's lives to relive his experiences. I also looked that some of Suzie's history was given to us as well. The book ultimately hopped to a satisfying ending. 5 stars.

While there were some moments that I thought the book dragged a bit, I enjoyed reading this. I thought this was beautifully and intelligently written, and haunting at some times. I am actually considering grabbing a physical copy.

It took me some time to get into the book but after a few chapters I became fascinated with all of Milo's lives. I'm happy that Milo lived in different time periods and especially enjoyed reading about his life in the future. I love the concept of the story but I did have trouble connecting with the characters. Overall I would give this book 3.5/5 stars and would recommend to friends. I should add that I went I to this book knowing nothing about it other than the title.

There’s something about the idea of Death as a tangible being that really interests me. It’s odd, because I’m not usually a “dark” person, if you will, nor am I particularly into anything else death or end-of-life related. But despite that, I find personifications and physical incarnations of Death fascinating. Perhaps it’s the imagination it takes to give a personality and other life-like characteristics to such a shadow-y and terrifying concept. Whatever the reason, I love it. So when I saw that this novel about a man living thousands or reincarnations of life while trying to find a way to stay with his true love, Death, I jumped on it. And let me assure you, the imagination here did not disappoint. Milo is a soul. An old soul. A very old soul. He has lived 9,997 lives and sometime during those 8,000 years of reincarnations, he fell in love with Death as she came to, over and over, welcome him to the afterlife. Souls are eventually supposed to achieve Perfection, a joining into the Oversoul of the universe – each of their reincarnations serves to help them learn lessons on how to reach that nirvana. Sometimes they come very close to just miss it by a hair. Sometimes things go pretty poorly and they have to live penance lives (say, as a cricket) afterwards. But each life gets you closer. Except Milo loves Death, also known as Suzie, and she lives in the Afterlife. So he maybe isn’t trying as hard as he should be to reach Perfection, because then he’ll pass beyond where he can be with her. And Suzie has a secret of her own: she’s tired of being Death, she wants to quit. Milo and Suzie just want to be together, even though everyone says its unnatural and impossible, but time may be running out for them. Each soul only gets 10,000 tries to reach Perfection before they become Nothing. And Suzie can’t follow Milo there either… This book ebbed and flowed in a way that is unlike anything I’ve read before. There were short tales of Milo’s previous lives, some short snippets of his experiences and even just some single life descriptions, interspersed with some much longer tales. These are spread all over time and space, though the longer tellings primarily focused on the last few of his 10,000 reincarnations. These are also mixed in with longer and shorter tales of Milo’s time in the Afterlife between reincarnations – how it mirrors regular life but is somehow, sharper – and of course his time with Suzie. Altogether, it created an incredibly intriguing, almost hypnotizing, method of storytelling. The language itself is almost fable-like at times, and utilitarian at others, and that juxtaposition somehow fits the story exactly right. In general, I applaud the writing and style completely. I was thrilled and overwhelmed by how many stories we get throughout this novel. I mean you go in thinking “reincarnations, cool, so we might hear about a few different life stories here,” but the breadth of what was actually covered in beyond what I ever would have expected. There are lives lived in the ancient past and in the unimaginably far future. There are lives as famous people, everyday people, men and women, animals and insects. There are lives where Milo dies young, lives where he does amazing things, lives where he loses himself, lives lived adjacently to people and places we recognize and lives that are incredibly foreign. He has so many experiences and so many deaths. Truly, the representation is impressive and imagination to create them all is expansive. I mostly just loved this novel. The small details, like the many ways Milo’s name is changed but remains his own through his reincarnations and the reappearance of asthma/respiration issues that are consistent across his reincarnations are small but perfectly placed details. There were other perfect details as well, like when Suzie looks back on learning to be Death and talks about how some animals, like tropical birds and wolves, liked to be sung to as they died, while Presbyterians and hamsters liked a quick no nonsense death…sometimes it’s those little items that really bring the reality to a story. The exploration of the idea that life is hard, and that even after almost 10,000 tries and the ability to prepare or have advance knowledge, Perfection is nigh on impossible to achieve, is fully rendered. The recurring theme of the need for balance in the Universe, and the efforts to fight against (it in favor of love) that Milo and Suzie make, is something universal that every reader will be able to identify with in some way. Although Death was not as central as I was expecting, I was definitely not disappointed in the way she was presented – Suzie was not a real soul, but she was something individual all the same. Perhaps a little odd, but charming, Suzie was every bit deserving of a “life,” and an ending. The scenes of her and Milo together, both their love-making and their normal interactions, are described poetically and eccentrically (a very fun combo). I also definitely enjoyed the creativity of the “future” lives that Milo lived – it’s the perfect amount of sci-fi for someone who respects the imagination of it, but doesn’t want a whole book full of it. It’s there, it’s detailed and realized in full, it’s weird and foreign, but it doesn’t take over. And the ending, the way things work out, was right in line with the rest of the story, nothing overly spectacular. It was just one more story told in the way the rest were, but maybe detailed and wrapped up in a marginally more satisfying way. That may not sound like the type of ending you want to read, but when you get there, I challenge you to argue that it wasn’t exactly what was called for. Anything else would have chafed. I salute the author for not taking it too far. This is the epitome of a quirky love story. It’s got a little bit of everything, a healthy dose of meditation, and a whole lot of the otherworldly. It’s deftly written, skillfully paced, and precisely crafted. It’s pulls you along in it’s strange and appealing ebb and flow and when you get to the end, you’ll be both satisfied with and left wanting more of Milo’s 10,000 lives and 9,999 Afterlives with Suzie. It’s the perfect combination of feelings have at the end of a book. This ARC was provided to me courtesy of First to Read and Del Ray Books in exchange for an honest review. Quotes I loved: “Two plus two equals four. So does five minus one.” “In the morning, she wrapped them both in her long hair, which became wings, which became a wind and dry leaves.” “She took his hand and some love traveled up his arm and burst inside him like a galaxy. For a moment, he contained wonders and stars and time, and could speak Spanish, and existed in twenty dimensions. He also began to explode a little.” “…the world of having the Earth itself as a body. Streams and currents were his arms. Storms were his voice. The moon and constellations were his changing moods.” “For eight thousand years, he had awakened by a river, and Suzie had been there, and everything was fine. Now everything was bullshit.” “A primordial morning, full of mists and loomings. A river of mist flowed under the bridge, and a shore of mist came to meet it.” “Outside, the afterlife remained the same as always. Earthlike, and also dreamlike. Days came and went. Streets changed direction. The balance of Heaven and Earth followed its own inscrutable schedule. Clouds flew. Rain fell. The moon changed.” “They were reading newspapers on the couch together, legs intertwined. She gave him a kind of hug with her legs. This, he thought. This is Perfection. Very few people know how to leave a moment like that alone and not fuck it up. Milo didn’t know.” “They were the most beautiful fugitives in all eternity.”

The description of this book sounded like it would be something right up my alley -- a little morbid and dark with some humor thrown in -- but I was actually worried that I was setting myself up with too high expectations, especially since there's a romantic aspect to the story. It was a relief to finish the book and discover that not only did it live up to my expectations but I also enjoyed the romance part. The idea that we get many chances until we get it right is what drew me to this story. Poore took that concept into some unexpected places, making this a fun and thought-provoking read.

“'It’s more about being an artist,' she said. 'I’d make the candles. In different shapes.' 'Are you just saying that off the top of your head or—' 'Nope. I have wanted to make candles since they were invented. I mean, it’s the greatest kind of sculpture. Say you made a candle of Michael Jackson, and it would be all cool and look just like him,and you’d show it to people, and they’d say ‘Oh, that’s the cutest thing I ever saw,’ and then you could light it and watch his head melt. Candles are awesome.'" Reincarnation Blues is the most recent publication of fiction writer, poet, and fellow Hoosier Michael Poore. Milo has been reincarnated almost ten thousand times in pursuit of universal perfection. He is on the track except for one thing, on this journey he has fallen in love, with Death. Now after thousands of lives and almost eight thousand years Milo must make the choice: become Nothing, or spend eternity without the one he loves. Told from the third person Reincarnation Blues spans all history and future: from the Bronze Age to the time of Buddha, all the way up to the distant future where space travel is the norm and people build on the sun. The book approaches the themes of mortality and wisdom with a dark and wry humor, lending a touch of the absurd and obscene. The writing is whimsical and rife with satire, poking fun at all of humanity’s foibles and contradictions. A story line that is imaginative and bizarre, the plot can be compared to an episode of the TV show Lost, unlikely juxtapositions where anything goes. "Flying with Death was like being in a sleeping bag with a sensuous woman and a tarantula." And much like a TV show, rather than one long novel the book is broken up into different lives each with its own characters and story to tell. Some segments are just short paragraphs, others are weighty chapters which adds some variation to the pacing of this fairly decent sized book. I appreciated the zany feel of this novel, but it took me a while to settle into it. Reincarnation Blues is light years from the literature I would normally pick up, and I came to appreciate that aspect the longer I read. Poore pushes the envelope with this book, and hidden under the biting comedy are some pretty profound themes. This quote in regard to growth mindset particularly spoke to me. "It wasn’t easy. That was the first thing about learning anything worthwhile; you had to have patience. You had to know that if you tried to do a thing a thousand times, you could usually succeed in doing it, and if you practiced that thing a million times, you could do it very well. And so on. Mastering a thing was not magic, just hard work. Chop wood, carry water, as the Buddhists said." Reincarnation is an improbable tale, but the ending is incredibly sweet. If you’re looking to gain a new perspective on humanity, or just looking for a tour de force of time and space travel, this book is the place to go. 4/5 stars for a unique adventure.

"It was much harder now, lying in his grave, knowing that he might have lived happily with far less grief than it took to live afraid." I received a copy of this ebook from in exchange for an honest review. This book was sweet and winding and not quite what I expected. It certainly ebbs and flows, but we follow Milo who keeps dying before he achieves perfection and Death, who prefers to be called Suzie. Their courtship is enduring and dangerous. We see the lives Milo lives and the lives Suzie takes as they struggle to understand perfection and what it means. The book jumps around a bit - it took me a while to understand that time does not move one direction and some lives are in the past while others are in the future. I didn't exactly love the end of the story, but I appreciate what it took to get there. This is a rather enchanting read that explores what it means to sacrifice and love.

The idea of repeating life and death until you get it right, learned some kind of lesson, etc is not a new one as we’ve seen it play out frequently in literary and cinema; of course there’s also a major religion which holds this as a central tenet is their belief system. Somehow Poore takes this theme though and turns into a beautiful story about love, hope and finding happiness in who you are and what you have rather than wasting your life chasing down some version that doesn’t exist. We follow Milo on his journeys, and there are MANY of them with reincarnations from people to plants to animals, as he repeatedly tries and fails to discover that one thing that will allow him to have permanent happiness. As frustrating as being born and dying almost 10,000 times must be for him, the viewer of his history is treated to an intriguing perception of how his adventures playout including the ones in between when he hangs out in the ‘afterlife’. Milo is written as someone that can appeal to everyone because the obstacles he faces, sacrifices that must be made, the desires he hold are something everyone has come across during their life so we are allowed to examine ourselves through him to essentially take live and relive our own lives 10,000. We are treated to essentially what is a string of short stories, glimpses into his lives and deaths. Some almost make you feel that his life and/or death were senseless, tragic, a gift, poetic, but all ultimately show that life and death hits us all and is inescapable. There’s almost something reassuring about coming to that understanding so you can stop chasing immortality through cosmetic surgeries, endless meals bookended by ‘vitamins’ and exercising to the point it is no longer healthy. Instead you learn to enjoy life, appreciate the day you have because it could be your last. Even when he lived his life as a tree for hundreds of years he was still able to learn more than human beings I know because he didn’t allow his circumstances to define his thoughts, he allowed his thoughts to paint his circumstances. He could’ve been miserable standing there unable to interact with the world on terms as we know them but instead he used the chance to learn about the world around him. The lessons are imparted with humor, horror, curse words that would make a sailor blush, poetic imagery and everything in between. Despite the potentially dire circumstances he faces if he can’t get things right Milo often doesn’t seem to let that faze him or truly believe he won’t find some way to scrape through so it colors his behavior and thoughts which at times can be maddening. I often felt like I was dealing with one of my children and wanted to scold him repeatedly to stop screwing around. Suzie would seem to balance him out, help him make better choices but she wasn’t given enough air time to make a real impact through most of the book. I could definitely see this working out as a TV show as each episode could focus on one of Milo’s lives with him dying by the end of the episode and the series finale being with him finally learning what he needed to in order to end the cycle.

If Neil Gaiman, Terry Prachett and Douglas Adams had a meeting of the minds and together wrote a fictional work about reincarnation, it would be this book. Often hilarious, sometimes dark and a bit disturbing, but always witty and full of some surprising insights it reflected many aspects of my own personal views on reincarnation and the purpose of a soul's continuing to return. I absolutely loved this book!

What can I say? This is not a usual genre for me to read. However, the synopsis of Milo with his 9.995 lives and his last chances to reach perfection intrigued me. The story is definitely original and Michael Poore writes in an easygoing style. We meet Milo just before he gets eaten by a shark in one of his lifes. He wakes up next to Suzie, or actually: Death herself. In the Afterlife, Suzie and Milo love each other. But Milo is forced to reincarnate and live yet another life time after time, to learn and grow and reach The Perfection. The stories of his life are interesting, sometimes a bit depressing, but very intriguing. But you can't help but hope he will die again, to be with Suzie. But will they be able to be together? Or is the cosmos not granting them their wish to be together? Find out yourself while reading Reincarnation Blues. Three out of five stars from me and a thank you to FirstToRead for providing the arc.

Really enjoyed this one! I'm not sure the comparisons to Gaiman and Vonnegut help, since this book is often darker and more somber than those authors tend to be, but it was still fun to read about the irreverent Milo blundering through his many lives on his quest for "perfection". Poore clearly is taking this opportunity to describe how he thinks humanity as a whole might advance and break the endless cycle of suffering, but it's a theme that feels organic to a story about reincarnation.

I thought this book was brilliant. I loved the way it portrayed reincarnation and the afterlife, and I loved traveling with Milo through several of his lives. I agree that it's not particularly funny, but it is absolutely magical. I fell in love with Milo and Suzie over and over again. 5 stars, I completely recommend it.

It is very rare that I just don't care what happens to the characters. Neither Milo nor Suzie (Death) seemed to have any emotional depth so I was not invested in them. Each new life Milo or Suzie was reincarnated into didn't matter to them and in turn they did not matter to me.

I read whimsical in the description, and thought I am going to love this book... words can deceive you. This book was horrifying in many ways. I think that should be added to the description. Trigger warings would be good as well.

Milo, protagonist of Reincarnation Blues, is on the quest for Perfection and always seems to fall a little short. This novel certainly isn't perfect either, but features a refreshing and inviting world that charms and kindles some creative imaginings. The comparisons to Gaiman and Vonnegut aren't off the mark - author Michael Poore has enviable control of set up and tension (so any reference to Douglas Adams or even Sherman Alexie (title check!) is also apt). In developing the pursuit of Perfection and the planning station of the afterlives, the author has pulled from enough sources and beliefs to create something that seems wholly original. Poore has a pretty good balance of the well-defined, and unsurprisingly arbitrary, rules of reincarnation and also the vague points of the mystical metaphysical. Milo's lives in our Earthly past present some curious retrospections on our species, but Poore seems more at home in Milo's adventures in centuries to come, unbound by some of the more recognizable points in our history. The comprehensive (and bleak) vision of the human future woven by Poore can be unpleasantly excessive, but does have some vivid dreamscapes. The author also plays it safe, at times, with the reincarnations, showing essentially similar Milos in each iteration - mostly decent young men of relative intelligence, privilege, and incredulity. This makes sense for the personality of Milo's common soul searching in each life, but may be a disservice to readers or the immensity of possible humans. The lack of diversity, perhaps, misses some bold opportunities to invite imagined perspectives for comparison. Overall, however, I tore through the book with great interest and felt that the course of Milo's journey was well-plotted and satisfying. I've never met a literary Milo that didn't make a fine stand-in for the reader. In my opinion, the greatest element in play is that Poore has designed a world that has so much potential for reader interpellation - if we have lived thousands of lives, what have we understood or lost? - and for world building. One can imagine the other lives Milo (or Suzie, etc.) have embodied and be left with a delicious awareness of stories untold. Our stories, perhaps. Thanks for the Penguin First to Read opportunity! I would definitely recommend this book for the more imaginative and introspective readers in my life (or lives).

Reincarnation Blues was sold as a light-hearted look at the reincarnation process and one man's struggle to achieve purity and the release from life. There are many small retellings of some of his attempts and some of them were interesting, though I didn't find them humorous. However, those are just decoys because the only lives where Milo comes close to succeeding are lives where he is raped, tortured, exploited, and many of his companions are maimed and killed. Apparently the only way to enlightenment is through suffering and pain. And (semi-spoiler alert) even after he supposedly is done, he continues to recycle through lives. Many of his lives are not as people, which just seems a cheat: Does a slug really have a chance to achieve a higher level of consciousness? I found this to be increasingly depressing as the book went on. Maybe your definition of whimsical is different than mine, but I was disappointed.

Tries too hard to be cool. I can't help but think that the comparisons to Gaiman and Vonnegut came from someone who has never actually read Gaiman or Vonnegut.

Even though I am not a big fan of fantasy books, I started reading this one and kept on going. This book has it all, love, life/lives/, excitement, sadness, and more than one life lesson. There are references to many lives lived but not once was it boring or tedious. This is definitely a "feel good" book and worth the read.

I'm really not big on reading fantasy books, but I have to say, I really enjoyed Reincarnation Blues. I found the story to be unique, whimsical, funny, touching, and sometimes disturbing. This book was absolutely better than what I was expecting. Definitely worth the read! I'm truly looking forward to reading more books by Michael Poore. *I want to thank Penguin's First to Read Program for the ARC of this book.

Loved this one! The progression of a soul from one's first earthly life to joining the Cosmic Universal Soul (or something to that effect) is a quirky, funny, sad, thoughtful, loving, and any other emotion you could possibly think of. It's also a love story. I highly recommend this book to anyone open to the possibility of reincarnation and eternal love. Also to people who enjoy quirky, thought provoking stories. Heck, I'll recommend it to anybody. Thank you Penguin for allowing me the chance to read the advance reader's copy!

I'm normally not into fantasy books, so I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed Reincarnation Blues. Milo has been reincarnated thousands and thousands of times, each time living completely different lives with different spouses, the only "constant" being "death" who he falls in love with. It's a well developed plot with complex characters that keeps you turning pages faster and faster.

This story has a dash of science fiction, a pinch of fantasy, and a whole lot of heart. I loved every word of it. Milo is the ultimate old soul; resurrecting for 8 thousand years gives him the chance to live a lot of lifes and live a wide array of experiences. In between those lifes, he meets one of Death's avatars, Suzie, and a love for the ages is born. Poore creates many different worlds and events for Milo to go thru and he does it with great skill. Readers get to go to the past, the future, and to distant stars. We meet Milo at his best and his lowest. All of this with a lovely story of two souls finding each other as a background. It's definitely a book I'd recommend and one of the rare instances of a book deserving the hype surrounding it.

Douglas Adams has a siccessor. Wonderfully absurd and accessible. The Milo/Suzie love story brings fhis one home and is reminiscent of the timespan of Cloud Atlas. Can't wait to buy a copy!

Let me start with two "cons": 1) Moore dismisses Jesus and elevates the Buddha; 2) he uses the phrase "moon-n*gger" excessively in the latter part of the book (even once would have been excessive). Having said this, Reincarnation Blues may well have been the best novel I've read in the last ten years. Every sentence is perfect (the aforementioned criticisms notwithstanding). The characters are credible (despite being the product of magical realism), the plot lines (the major arc and the many, many minor arcs) are enthralling, and the gist of the story along with the growth of the characters made me want to be a better person. I was sorry when the novel came to its end. It is, in some ways, a perfect novel.

For those who read Handmaid’s Tale when it first came out, it was easy to be skeptical about how fast and the degree to which society devolved. The idea that no one carried cash and all transactions were electronic, which meant that controlling or evil forces could cut your account at any time, seemed farfetched. Why would we allow ourselves to become utterly dependent upon technology to which we could be denied access at any time? Enter the online banking, et al. For some, Handmaid relied on humankind being wildly gullible and too trusting about “progress.” Enter social media, et al. So when reading Reincarnation Blues, it is easy to worry how much is imagination and how much is predictive. Michael Poore’s novel goes much further, and backwards, than Atwoods’ through main character Milo’s time travelling, 9,995- times reincarnated soul as it attempts to reach Perfection. Chapters trade back and forth between Milo’s earthly lives and his timeouts, so to speak, in afterlife. Lives set in the past, future, and present track Milo’s quest for soul perfection. Each life brings lessons about rising above circumstances, recognizing truth, and bringing something better to the world, all worlds. In this sense Reincarnation Blues is more philosophically, culturally, and politically varied than Atwood’s story. There are multi-verses, some dystopian, and heroics which should appeal to sci fi/fantasy and Comic Con fans. There is a major love story that spans thousands of years for romance devotees. The clever references, word games, and figurative language appeal to the literary minded. Physics smashes about and genetics is a playground. Yes, something for readers of all preferences. But the story remains focused upon the idea of love as redeeming and the soul as an active entity. All in all, a pretty good and worthwhile read. The binding plot is Milo’s love affair. His amor is quite literally out of this world with the romance almost entirely taking place in his before/afterlife interludes. He has little control because his soulmate is Death, who meets him in the Other Realm after each failure to reach perfection. They hit it off. Unlike Death in The Book Thief, this Death is openly compassionate when rendering service and sometimes rebellious about the job. And she prefers to be called Suzie. As Death, Suzie’s soul is a universal one, while Milo’s is not. Should he reach Perfection, he can expect to walk into golden waters and become one with the Universe. If he doesn’t achieve perfection, he gets to take a long walk off of a short otherworldly sidewalk. And what about Suzie? As a Universal, she isn’t eligible to work on perfection and cannot meld with earthly souls. Anyway, she has a job to do, like it or not. By completing his reincarnation cycles, Milo will have to part from Suzie, and both are determined to stay together. In fact, Milo has been messing up perfection somewhat in an attempt to perpetually reincarnate and be with Suzie, at least in his afterlives. What he didn’t know is that he is down to his last five chances to reach perfection—10,000 lives is the limit for reincarnation here. He is caught between a cosmic rock and hard place wanting to be with his true love of thousands of years and wanting to avoid the end of the sidewalk. Suzie is not a passive being, Universal or not. And perfection questing aside, Milo still has some growing up to do. The multi-verse reincarnation trope is perfect for allowing the reader to see where Milo, and humankind, keeps going amiss. Because Milo is so genial, mostly well intentioned, and quite sincere about his love, he is likeable even at his worst, and we are willing to travel with him, hoping that he will keep his love and attain perfection. This means that we are wishing for the suspension of karmic law and for impersonal physics to sit up and take an interest. This Pandoric hope keeps the reader turning the pages and wishing for a better world here and now. There are moments when the novel becomes bogged down. The chapters involving futuristic reincarnations are lengthier and nearly overwhelm, but Poore provides relief from dystopia and sturm und drang with some truly fun insights. One of my favorites: “Dogs love hospitals. Think of all the smells you can never get rid of.” In describing Perfection as becoming one with the universe, Poore has written a couple of the best, most relatable analogies I have come across. In one, an earthworm has been subsumed into a human form. The far greater intelligence, span of existence, experiences, skills, and talents previously had been unimaginable to the worm. As the earthworm, would you be upset about having lost your earthwormly form? The narrator explains: You wouldn’t. Actually, here’s the thing: You and your worm girlfriend are actually both in there, smooshed together in your vast new brain. You and a trillion other worms. You do not think about being trillions of separate earthworms. Why would you? You move ahead with being your new, awesome, ancient self. Everything makes sense to you now. Time. Gravity. Which fork to use. Zippers. Infinite dimensions. Tacos. It’s all part of a dream you are having. A billion years pass. Or they would, if time weren’t just part of the dream. So you dream a billion years. What’s the difference? The billion years pass like a great sleeping ocean. Suzie, aka Death, in responding to Milo’s confusion about Perfection and the Universe, tells him, “You only say that because you don’t know Perfection. When you’re perfect, you become part of Everything, like Kool- Aid dissolving in water.” The novel can be ribald, tongue in cheek, and graphically violent. But it is also kind, empathetic, and solacing. Milo embodies common mistakes we make, using our body and brain-knotted logic, to show how we got where we are, and where it might lead. Unlike most novels, which tend to create awareness, Poore’s novel transcends genre by pointing to thinking and behaviors across history and culture that help humankind be better and which could improve our lot now. It matters not whether the reader is Hindu, Judeo-Christian, Muslim, a practitioner of another faith or of none, Milo and his adventures reveal and address our greatest human fears sometimes gently, sometimes roughly, but always with sympathy and wit.

So you’ve died tens of thousands of times, and every time you’ve met the same aspect of death, and somewhere in there you’ve fallen in love with each other. You’ve married thousands of people (maybe more) during life, but Suzie (Death) is your soulmate. That is the existence of Milo, Michael Poore’s main character in “Reincarnation Blues.” Besides waking up at the river in the afterlife with Suzie by his side, Milo is accustomed to being found by a couple of universe fragments, whom he calls Mama and Nan. Mama is a big round earth mother, while Nan is an old, twiggy cat lady. Their jobs are to help Milo reach Perfection in life. Throughout Milo’s lives, he’s accumulated the wisdom of the past and the future (which are illusions according to Mama and Nan), of humans and animals, and of many, many cultures. “Reincarnation Blues” takes the reader through too many of these lives to count. Some are funny, some are heartbreaking, and all are thought-provoking. What does it mean to reach Perfection? What does Milo have to do to get there? What is the life of a catfish? I would highly recommend this book to aspiring authors and anyone with a love for the quirky and the spiritual. I bet there's a lot of goths out there who will adore Suzie after reading this (I can't help thinking of Siouxsie Sioux every time I read her name). If you enjoyed "The Epiphany Machine," this might be a good next step. In reverse, I would also recommend that anyone who loves this book check out the movie “Wristcutters: A Love Story” and the book it’s based on, “Kneller’s Happy Campers” by Etgar Keret. If you want to go darker (and get punk), try out Carlton Mellick III's "Satan Burger." To comment on the craft level for those aspiring authors, Poore’s ability to jump from 3025 AD spaceships to 500 BC villages is astounding. Not only does he accomplish this, but he switches between these worlds of the living and the less illusioned afterlife in which reality is constantly changing in unexpected ways (ex: a train suddenly running on a set of tracks that had been rusty and covered in weeds 30 seconds beforehand). His style is friendly, conversational, and magnetic – his individual words make you want to read more. The imagery takes you places, but the concepts keep you thinking even when you find yourself floating in outer space without a space suit. Despite covering philosophical matters and some conversations that the world could really use, there’s raw emotion in the characters. Can't forget these delicious chapter titles either -- things like "The Unlucky Joy of Being Catapulted into Vienna" and "Your Soul Can Be Cancelled Like a Dumb TV Show." That’s not to say that this is “the perfect” book. The first chapter is a little slow, but I promise it’s worth reading just to get to the second chapter. There’s a couple reality dynamics that are never explained, but I’m not sure they need to be (they're not important to the plot). I also had some trouble making peace with the ending. That might be a personal thing. It also might be a very good thing, because there’s a lot to try to wrap your mind around -- a good reason to reread.

I am afraid that I can't give a proper review of this book. No matter how many times I tried downloading it, the file I received was incomplete. I was disappointed because it sounded quite interesting.

I found this book to be very enjoyable! The characters were entertaining and relatable. I feel like the way this book was written was neat, but could have used a little more warning that you were entering a different time or scene. There was so much jumping around that sometimes i got a little bit lost. I also felt that there were a few too many "lives"... It got to the point that I was ready to move past some of the more useless "lives" that weren't really adding to the character. While many were entertaining, some seemed to just go on and on. I enjoyed the book a lot! It was thought provoking, for sure. Really makes you think about reincarnation and the complexity of time and space. Certainly worth a read. While I received this book free of charge in order to review it, I would not have been disappointed had I purchased it! Definitely worth purchasing!

One of the best books I've read in awhile! How great would it be to live thousands of lives? Well right off the bat we dive in to one of the 10,000 lives Milo gets to live until he reaches Perfection. Full of life lessons, adventure, space travel, and life after death. Can wait until it's published just so I can have a physical copy of this amazing story.

I do not believe in reincarnation, but I don't disbelieve in it. This book has many of the tenets of reincarnation in it. The soul is reborn to attain perfection. If the soul did bad things in one life, it must make restitution in the next one by being a lessor being, an insect or a plant. Milo is a soul. He gets 10,000 tries to reach Perfection and has used 9,995 without getting there. His problem is that he has fallen in love with one of many personifications of Death called Suzie. She loves him, too. If he reaches Perfection, he will be separated from Suzie forever. His guides finally show him that if he doesn't reach Perfection, he will be separated from Suzie forever anyway. That is the problem they must solve and the meat of the book. I had a little trouble getting into the story. While Milo's lives happen one after the other in linear order, the lives themselves do not follow in that linear order. A life spent on a space station is followed by one in which he is a follower of the Buddha. He is constantly reminded of past lives by voices in his head, so he can access those lives by concentrating on the voices. Suzie somehow manages to change her status from a Universality to a soul to join Milo in his last incarnation. He takes her into the Oververse with him when he reaches Perfection. I liked the story, but there were places I was jarred out of it. The ending was not as satisfying as I would have wanted. I started this book on Netgalley, but got a print copy, which made it easier to read.

I really enjoyed this book. I really got into it because of the witty humor that is throughout, It really kept me laughing. I was able to finish the book because it is such an interesting premise. Some of the other reviewers said that it was too sci-fi for them but I actually enjoyed it. I would recommend this book to a friend.

As other readers have said, I couldn't get my copy to download correctly either! After the first 5 or so pages, it just wouldn't continue. Really disappointing. I was looking forward to diving into this book!

I could not get my copy to download properly. It would not open past a couple of pages. I was looking forward to reading this.

Just could not get into this book. Did not like Milo, and the book was not for me.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Penguin First to Read in exchange for a fair and honest review. Milo only has a few more chances to get it right. He should be good at this living thing, since he has had almost 10,000 tries to live a life worthy of not having to come back and try it again. Unfortunately, he seems to mess it up one way or another every single time, leaving him to be reincarnated to try again. The problem is, his advisors in death tell him they won’t know what will happen to his soul if he doesn’t get it right by the 10,000 try – no one has taken this many lives to get to the perfection it takes to cross into the golden light. He learns things in each life he lives, but unfortunately, he has not lived up to the standards required to cross over. So he is born again and again and again. Each time Milo dies, he wakes up in water, and death is there to greet him. Death is not one entity, he or she in Milo’s case – is many deferent beings. Milo’s death person is Suzie, he gave her the name several thousand lives ago since her real name is too hard to pronounce. Therein lies another problem. Milo and Suzie have fallen in love with each other. Maybe a part of Milo doesn’t want to become perfect because how could life – or death as it were – be perfection without the woman he loves? This is the most interesting, quirky, funny book I have read in a long time. The lives of Milo are vastly different and read like short stories in the middle of the story that is part of the whole story. The beauty of it is, Poore’s masterful prose links all of the events so perfectly together, it reads like the novel that it is at the same time and isn’t confusing at all. Milo transcends time and space to live in the future, past and present. Sometimes he is rich, then he will be poor, then he has to be a bug or a slug or a fish if he does something really stupid or bad in a previous life. Each life and death is so entertaining I could not put this book down. Milo is one of the most complex characters I have ever encountered. Because he is many people: old, young, brave, scared, cranky – you name it Milo has done it. One of his lives brought out almost any emotion or reaction a human could have, but all of them were distinctly Milo. His essence was always inside and managed to peek out when I least expected it. He is kind, smart and helpful even if sometimes he resents having to try and live up to the perfection level that seemed so elusive. He is often endearing like the grumpy old man that has a soft heart for the neighbor kids. This is Michael Poore’s second novel. It is the first novel or short story of his that I have read. If you are a Christopher Moore fan, you will love Michael Poore’s writing. I love the wit and wisdom that Poore brings to life through his characters and the complexity of Reincarnation Blues. He packs a lot of punch into this novel, but it is packaged into an easy to read page turner. I loved Poore’s style and have ordered his first book, Up Jumps the Devil and cannot wait for it to arrive. Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

The blurb for Reincarnation Blues name-drops Kurt Vonnegut and Neil Gaiman, and I have to say that if you are intrigued by that, just lower your expectations a notch and you may enjoy this book. However, for my taste, there is just a little too much Paolo Coelho mixed in. If that intrigues you, then just drop what you're doing right now and run to get a copy of Poore's novel. There are times, as other reviewers have noted here, when you can get caught up in the story of one of Milo's lives to the extent that the main point (reuniting with his love and soulmate, Suzie) is almost forgotten. The author builds a future world of oxygen cartels and life on other planets whose background is merely sketched in, but which is still convincing and involving. And, even though the book skips around in time, the vision of the future coheres as one solid timeline the reader can follow almost outside of Milo's own story. That's the science fiction part, and it succeeded for me, a non-lover of science fiction. The afterlife world, that's the part the publisher wants you to think is Neil Gaiman, but I, a lover of Neil Gaiman, found myself rolling my eyes at times. The version of the afterlife presented here is ready for Hollywood (there are token mentions of the main character being reincarnated as black, or as gay, but the main characters in the movie version will definitely be played by white actors; even when he's reborn in a small village in India, his name is Milo). Most of the mass of brown- and black-skinned and Asian people who die on earth seem to end up in some other book. Some of the touches—trailer parks, a place where the sidewalk ends—cross the line into cute. And you have to overlook many logical inconsistencies, as with any book of this type. (He can look through all history, past and future, in any order, to choose a life to inhabit, so wouldn't all of those destinies already have been decided...?) But setting aside those things, which I couldn't entirely do, there is so much to enjoy in this story. And the last chapter, which has the difficult job of tying all of the disparate strands together, delivers on the promise of the love story and the philosophical tale.

This veered once in a lifetime, err, ah, while, too far into Sci-Fi for me, but I hung in there and am glad I did. The times Milo reincarnated into the future are why for me, it is three stars. It has a great message and the dry wit, especially about the problems of meditation, kept me laughing.

What if you had 10,000 lives to reach the ultimate Perfect life? One where you are selfless and heroic or where you meet the Perfect teach that guides you through life? That is how Milo lives every day. He has currently used 9,994 lives and has yet to reach Perfection. Each time he chooses a life he either chooses wisely and picks a life that brings him near perfection but not quite the full deal. Or he chooses a life that gets him in trouble and doesn’t come near Perfection resulting in repercussions in the Afterlife. These repercussions are Mama and Nan. Mama and Nan are parts of The Universe and they are Milo’s guides to reach perfection. They nag him over and over about the choices he makes and urge him to reach perfection. If he does not reach Perfection, he will become part of the Nothingness. What is interesting is that the house that Milo receives in the Afterlife is based on the life he just lived. If he was heroic and brave, he will receive a mansion but if he was a murderer he will receive a run-down trailer. The biggest catch to the whole novel is that Milo is in love with someone he should not be: Death. Every time he dies he meets up with Suzie who prefers not to be called death. They get together and make love then try to figure out how Perfection works and how to be together forever. Will Milo reach Perfection or will he end up in nothingness? Milo loves Suzie; will he have to give her up to reach Perfection? First, I will tell you the positives about the book. The man can tell a story. I am not meaning the book, I am meaning the little stories weaved through the plot of the novel. One story stuck out to me about Milo being sent to prison inside of an asteroid. I wish he would have written an entire novel based on that one story. Gob, Seagram, and Thomas are interesting characters that I would have loved to read more about. I also like the characters and how they played together in many of Milo’s lives. Poore has little nuggets of stories put throughout the book that focus on characters and how they play into The Universe. The negatives are plentiful. I don’t like to write negative reviews but I do want to point out some things that put me off as a reader. At times, he was repetitive and trite. When Milo reflects on his past lives, it is always the same lives that he references. For a man that has lived nearly 10,000 lives, he should have more material than what is repeated nearly every other chapter. He also includes lives that seem unimportant. Every other chapter is a series of paragraphs telling about Milo’s past lives. At first it is interesting but quickly fades to annoyance. My last negative thing is the writing style is more of a middle grade novel but with adult content. Milo is thinking about sex a lot in many of his lives. We get it, everyone gets aroused, just don’t make it a big focus in the chapter. Overall, it was a decent book. Would I read it again? No. It was a quick fun read. If the random lists of past lives were cut out, it would be a better book. I would like to give his other book a chance before writing him off. Join me next time Between The Reads!!

I won't be reviewing this.

The premise here - an old soul down to his last couple lives, in love with Death and being alive (ironic), not entirely sure that he wants to escape the cycle and achieve Perfection - was a treat to read. Fresh, cynical, humorous, dark, and delightfully disjointed and unchronological. And I wasn't expecting the odd but not out-of-place themes of environmental disaster and corporate totalitarianism woven throughout the many vignettes. The biggest issue I found with the book is the ending: like Milo, I don't think Poore can commit to the finality of a conclusion and therefore tries to squeeze two in the space of one.

FLIRTING WITH DEATH The characters alone are worth going out and buying and reading this book! There is Death, who prefers to be called “Suzie”, there are two spirits, one an Earth mother type, the other a realistic but cranky cat-lady aunt type, and the protagonist, Milo, who dies and is reincarnated almost 10,000 times. The problem Milo faces is if he reaches the big 10,000 he will not be reincarnated anymore and must walk the sidewalk to nothingness, oblivion. If he does reach perfection before his 10,000 chances are up he walks off into a golden heaven. The trouble is, he tries and tries, but admits that he doesn't know really what perfection is. So he just dives into the river and tries again, even encountering the Buddha during one lifetime (although how he acted in that instance did NOT earn him any credits!) Along the way, Milo has fallen in love with Suzie and she loves him back, much to the disapproval of the mother/aunt spirits, who believe Death should act her age and behave appropriately. How these two handle their disparate lives, driven by different goals (Milo to avoid oblivion, Suzie to own a candle shop,) while remaining together is the crux of this book. This episodic (every life is a new chapter) story frequently displays a mordant, occasionally hilarious wit, entirely in keeping with its subject matter. The characters, necessarily archetypal, also display very human and relatable desires and actions. This book is a romp to read while it covertly slips in some thoughts on how best to cope (or not) with life. (5 Stars) I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This book follows Milo who has lived 9,995 lives and only has 5 tries left to achieve Perfection. Milo is in love with Death (like the actual god of Death... or *one* of them), or Suzie, as she likes to be called. Poore follows Milo and Suzie as they navigate Milo's last few lives and the time they get to spend together in between each reincarnation. First off, what a concept! Reincarnation Blues is such a cool idea for a novel and I did mostly enjoy it. The novel kept me interested and captivated and I think it will appeal to a lot of different readers across many genres, from fantasy to sci-fi to historical fiction to contemporary. My biggest issue was the flashback chapters. The idea that the timeline of the novel has to go back and forth to encompass as much of Milo's vast experiences as possible make sense. However, since the current plot of the novel seemed so urgent, I found the sections when Milo was lowkey reflecting on his past lives a little distracting. There is a lot going on in this novel. Almost every chapter is almost its own entire life or story. So sometimes an entire recollection chapter that could have been summed up in a much more brief format took away from my enjoyment of the following chapters which focused on the current timeline. Overall, though, this was a fun, enjoyable book. There is a lot to love about it and I'd recommend it to readers looking for a little something different to add to their TBR.

What a wonderful book. I loved the idea and I loved how it was presented. And even the ending didn't let me down. It starts out feeling like a series of short stories, and the further I got into it, the more I saw the links between all the stories, and how, like life everything in our past (or future - depending on how time is running at the moment) adds up to who we are right now, and who we are willing to work to become. Truly a great life lesson for us all, told in a most delightful way.

I started out completely in love with this book. The idea was unique, the writing was interesting and witty, and it grabbed my attention immediately. By the end of the book my love was waning just a bit. I think it felt too long; right around 280 pages I was ready for it to be over. That's not to be entirely critical as I think it was just me losing interest, or maybe I was just excited to see how it ended?? The story itself was such an interesting journey, giving glimpses of so many lives and watching how the tiny thread wound its' way through them. And the non-linear approach to reincarnation - completely original to me and very thought provoking. And the ultimate and beautiful love story just touched me deeply and is one I won't soon forget.

The premise of the book just did not live up to expectation. The main characters annoyed me and i just could not get through it. Not one i will be recommending.

Stepping into Poore's world of past lives in the amazing Reincarnation Blues hasn't been more fun since the mind bending quantum adventure of Blake Crouch's Dark Matter. An incredible must-read.

I was really looking forward to reading this book, however was unable to get past the title page with my reader.

A really fantastic, whimsical and yet strangely complex read, if you can handle A LOT of bouncing around. Milo gets 10,000 chances to get it right at life. To reach a level of perfection that will allow him to become part of the "Over Soul." He's very close to 10,000 when his universals, Mama and Nan, inform him that he's blowing his chance to not be thrown over a literal crumbling sidewalk at the edge of the world and becoming....nothing. Just disappearing. He's also in love with Death (Suzie), one of many Deaths, but this one is his and he loves her. We get to ride along as Milo lives with Buddha, becomes a terror on the side of a country road by shooting at passing vehicles, lives as the greatest and the least of men, sometimes women, sometimes animals. With 10,000 chances, he gets to do a little of everything. I won't give away the ending, I don't think I could as I'm still scratching my head a little over it, but this book was original, fun, entertaining, made me burst out into spontaneous laughter and I'm so glad I got the chance to read it. Thank you First to Read!

I really wanted to like this book. It had a lot of potential, but I just couldn't stand Milo.

Do-overs: what everyone who's ever made a questionable decision in life would like the option of executing. In Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore the do-overs of some of Milo's ten thousand lives are explored as he tries to reach Perfection.  Milo is generally a wise soul, having a multitude of experiences to call upon from his thousands of reincarnated lives. In each life, he works his way closer to achieving Perfection and moving to a different sort of afterlife through attaining immortality and earning the ability to be with his love, who just so happens to be Death (and prefers to be called Suzie). After Suzie makes a life altering decision that takes her out of Milo's immediate reach, Milo endeavors to be his best, most loving, and most selfless self in the few remaining lives before his ten thousandth life and final chance to reach Perfection in order to be with her again. Written with plenty of dark and dry humor, the novel encompasses many different types of lives between the past and the future (both near and far), with the lives portrayed demonstrating both the banal and unique qualities of life that can be easily and universally understood. There were lots of small snippets from previous lives Milo lived to bridge the gap between the longer narratives of his time living on Earth and living in the afterlife, which seemed a bit like filler material, but also provided further context to some of the decisions Milo continually makes in his reincarnated lives. Some of the shorter transition stories were repeated throughout the text with minor details slightly differently presented, which felt like a repetition error but also oddly works to evoke a sense of deja vu, which has been believed by some to be a moment of reliving something from a previous life. Overall, I'd give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

When I seen this was being compared to Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams, I knew I had snag a copy of this. To my delight, this novel did not disappoint. In fact, it far surpassed my expectations. Full of wit, humor, insight, and depth, the protagonist is an engaging and likable character that truly brought this narrative together. This book defies classification, though I would say it's science fiction done at it's best. Part dystopia, part time-travel, part spiritual imaginings, this was an absolute pleasure to read. Every time I had to put it down, I obsessed about when I'd be able to pick it back up and see what happened next. A must-read for many of my friends.

Milo is an old soul moving towards Perfection, as are all of us in our own journeys. Milo has taken the longest of any soul on Earth to attain this state, and as the story opens, we are not sure if he will make it or not. Every soul is allowed 10,000 lives to attain Perfection and Milo has 5 left; no one has ever needed that many. One impediment to Milo's attainment is his 5000 year love affair with Suzie, aka Death. It shouldn't have been possible, but it happened. He doesn't want to leave her, nor she leave him. The status quo has worked well for them but times a wasting. Milo now has no choice and Suzie decides she's done being Death, anyway. That's the overarching framework for the story and Milo's many, many lives are bandied about within the tale as chapters, paragraphs or anecdotes, depending on the author's needs. Sometimes this works to great effect and the results are stellar. Other times the feeling is more like a collection of short stories only loosely connected. The best fantasy/science fiction makes my thoughts sizzle with new connections; this book isn't quite at that level. I do like that souls travel time in any direction; sweet addition to the canon. I received my copy from Penguin's First to Read Program. This book covers everything from fantasy through dystopia, magical realism through historical fiction. It's definitely time well spent.

I really liked this book. It is absolutely unlike anything I've ever read before. I've read one or two other books with a reincarnation element, and I've always enjoyed them. I really love how you get to read so many interconnected stories within one book. All of Milo's lives were fascinating and none left me feeling bored or waiting to move on to the next part of the story. The non-linear take on time was really unique compared to other reincarnation stories I've read, and I actually liked that it jumped from the ancient past to the distant future and anywhere in between. The amount of world-building in this book, with all its different settings and time periods, is really amazing. I also really liked the overarching plot of trying to achieve Perfection and figuring out what Perfection truly means. If the book description intrigues you even just a tiny bit, pick this one up. It's moving, thought-provoking, romantic, at times funny, and it's definitely worth a read.

I really enjoyed this book. The humor intertwined quite nicely with the metaphysical material. The story presented a thought-provoking presentation of the order of the universe, juggling beautifully both the philosophical nature of life with the grittier details. Poore had me laughing, crying, and pondering in equal breaths. My only gripe is that some later parts of the book seemed to drag a bit. Overall, Poore will certainly be an author I reach for in the future.

What a beautiful story! It was an emotional journey. Funny, sad, loving, and thought-provoking. I normally would not have picked this kind of story up to read; but, I'm so glad I did. I couldn't put it down.

This is a beautifully written book. I was reluctant to read it considering most books about life after death tend to be preachy or illogical but I loved the concept in this one. Each little story provided the perfect amount of closure that I need. Would definitely recommend to everyone.

Unlike anything else that I've ever read. Poore presents an intriguing take on reincarnation crossed with a unique romance. I didn't end up loving the story, but there is a lot about it to like. It was hard to get engaged at first due to the non-linear structure that allows for much jumping around in time. I became more engaged during the generous passages devoted to Milo's last lives and his dogged quest for perfection; a couple of these could have spawned their own individual novels. The humor sprinkled throughout doesn't always fit within each time period, but often helped to lighten the mood. I was left with much food for thought upon finishing, and am glad that taking a chance on a book that I normally wouldn't pick up ended up paying off in this instance.

This books is beautifuly written and makes you think a lot about life and how we sometimes waste it. I would 100% recommend this book.

I literally just finished reading Reincarnation Blues and had to log right on to write my rave review. The book starts off as a lighthearted and quirky book about a man and his lives. Though the beginning of the story there is a touch of love story going on in the background as well. Slowly the story becomes about so much more and the love story becomes one of my favorites. One that survives all space, time and lives. I enjoyed all the different short stories scattered through-out the book. Many of them could hold up on their own as full told stories, some of them left me craving more. Not in the way that they weren't complete, but just that I wanted to know more of the time and place the story was told in. Milo is an extremely relatable character, who is really just all of us trying to make out way through life in an honorable way. Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore is the perfect book to read during some downtime, but be careful it may encroach into your life until nothing is finished until you finish the book! I can't wait to add a physical copy of this book to my library.

This story was a paradox in a way. It was a quick and fast light-hearted read that have me giggle outright throughout the novel, but also stop to think about the very nature of my own existence. This is the perfect book to take with you on vacation, or settle into at night. Since so many of the chapters cover different lives, it is almost as though I am reading an anthology of stories rather than one complete novel. Yet, the stories, as unconnected as they seem, never stray far from the story's bigger picture.

I was intrigued initially by the title of this book because it sounded like a short story collection but was surprised by the description summary, which in a way it was. I was strongly reminded of a favorite book, On A Pale Horse by Piers Anthony, as I read through Reincarnation Blues due to the different take and focus on mortality and conceptual higher powers that Mr. Poore described. As the different lives of Milo played out through the book I was caught up in the emotion that each evoked within the depths of darkness and struggle that he endured trying to reach Perfection and reunite with Suzie. While the underlying story threaded through, many chapters could stand alone as short pieces as my first impression led me to believe about the book. Many times throughout this story, I found myself laughing out loud at some witty exchange or one liner that caught me off guard. Overall it was a satisfying, funny, well paced book that I will be recommending to friends. In addition, I enjoyed this book so much that I intend to check out Mr. Poore's other works and purchase a physical copy of Reincarnation Blues upon publication for my personal library and future reading.


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