There are a few things you need to know regarding this book. Reincarnation is real, but there are some unlucky beings in the world who remember their past lives. There is one unlucky being who has fallen in love and lives each life looking for his love and losing her over and over and over. The plot is complicated even more by the fact that the first time he ran into the love of his life, *SPOILER* he actually killed her. So, he begins by seeking redemption for himself and ends up falling for her. The plot is even further complicated by the fact that there is an antagonist who follows them from life to life guided by a mysterious person who also has the memory.
Ok, let’s not discuss reincarnation or anything like that. I make no secret of my faith and I believe when people die they go to one of two places: Heaven or Hell. There isn’t an in between state, and I see no reason to believe in a do-over.
Now, on to the book itself. First of all, don’t read it. Honestly, I read it because I needed something fluffy. I really want to meet my goal of reading 200 books in 2012, and I’m behind. As in, I’m so behind I potentially need to read a book a day. I needed some serious fluff (hah…serious fluff). Also, as December looms closer with the promise of a trip to see Boyfriend, my mind is having a very tough time concentrating. It’s all I can do to keep up my schedule of ten pages a day of John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. So I thought to myself, who better to provide this fluff than Ann Brashares, author of the popular Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series? I couldn’t think of a better candidate either. This book is a little different from the Traveling Pants series in that it’s decidedly darker and there are a lot more of “those scenes” in it. I mean, a LOT! So, yes, if you read it, you can’t blame me.
Now, I admit, the plot is interesting to me. Time travel (let’s call it that since reincarnation just has way too much baggage) kind of interests me. Mainly because I haven’t seen it done plausibly yet. There is so much potential for an interesting tale, but so much potential for failure. In my mind, Brashares did a decent job. She might have nailed it if the book was about two hundred pages shorter. Now, this is partially because she cheated and didn’t really use actual time travel, but still. I think if you can swallow the reincarnation theme, it’s a fairly interesting beginning to a story. Beginning you say? I'll get to that.
What interested me the most was not the romance. (I know, surprise surprise) Rather it was this thought: What if you remembered everything you’ve ever done, not just in this life but in many lives. Now, personally I just need to look back on a few things I’ve done in my one life and experience a crushing amount of guilt. But what if you had to keep living lives until you could right a really big bad wrong you have done? Well, the obvious answer to a believer is that you can’t. You don’t get do-overs and even if you did you would still screw up. Just thinking about this made me very grateful for Jesus Christ who not only died for all the sins I’ve committed, but lived a perfect life for me.
The book did have a lot of interesting side thoughts. The protagonist has been around since the early 500s and has seen certain ideas and technologies and inventions come into vogue and pass out again, supporting the biblical idea that "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9) So, things like that did give me a little thinking to do, and I like books that give me little ideas like that to ponder.
It wasn’t until the very unsatisfactory end that I googled and learned that this was supposed to be the first book in a planned trilogy. Ms. Brashares never started the second and third book because this book just didn’t sell. I can see why. Though there were interesting tidbits to think about the book itself was entirely too long. There were so many parts I would have chosen to cut (particularly the sex…can I say this enough? There are a bunch of readers who DO. NOT. WANT. to read that!) and so much confusion. Also, readers of Ms. Brashares former Traveling Pants series would probably pick this up thinking it was going to be another heartwarming coming of age teen drama and find something entirely darker and heavier. I imagine the reception wasn’t overwhelming. It is a problem when you write for one specific audience and then want to branch out.
So, mainly because of the inappropriate scenes, but also because it’s a part of a trilogy that may never come into being, I don’t think you should read it. But if you are a believer you should thank God for your one life to live and Jesus Christ who has already interceded for the wrongs you’ve committed.