Today my blog is one of the stops on Mother-Talk.com’s Blog Tour for The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose (read Rose's backstory here).
The Reincarnationist; M.J. Rose; ISBN-13: 978-0778324201; Mira Books (September 1, 2007); hardcover; 464 pp.
This is the synopsis on Mother-Talk, which comes from Publishers Weekly:
Rose delves into religious myth and past-life discovery in her well-paced ninth novel. In present-day Rome, a terrorist bomb explosion triggers flashbacks of pre-Christian Italy in photographer Josh Ryder. Josh experiences the memories as Julius, a pagan priest defending the sacrosanct monuments of his gods and the life of his vestal virgin lover against the emperor-mandated onslaught of Christianity in A.D. 391. Six months later, Josh has teamed with the Phoenix Foundation, an institute specializing in past-life memories in children, to explore a newly excavated tomb that may contain pagan memory stones that incite past-life regressions and will, by proving the existence of reincarnation, challenge the church. The stakes rise after it becomes clear that dangerous outside forces also want the stones. In a series of memory lurches, the narratives of Josh and Julius slowly wind together to reveal a Da Vinci Code–esque tale of intrigue that’s more believably plotted and better meets its ambitions than Dan Brown’s ubiquitous book.
As the title of the book suggests, the main theme of this fast-paced thriller is reincarnation, and anyone who is even remotely interested in or curious about this subject (as I am) will enjoy this read. Rose’s exceptional research taught me a lot about the concept and its history, and she kept me guessing on the plot until the final page was turned and even thereafter.
I really can’t ask for more in a book.
I particularly like that early on, Rose lays out the significance of reincarnation research with the words of one of the characters who studies the phenomenon:
Yes, imagine if man believed he alone bore responsibility for his eternal rest, that it is within his own control to get to heaven. No Father, no Son, no Holy Ghost. What would happen to the power the Church holds over our souls? Imagine the worldwide confusion and rebellion and exodus from the Church if reincarnation were ever proved?
With this we know from the start that the stakes are high, and now we're ready for Josh Ryder to begin his quest to solve not only the mystery of his own possible past lives and how they affect his present one but also the larger question of whether reincarnation is real and/or whether it can be definitively, scientifically proven.
For those who enjoy Dan Brown’s twisting and turning tales of religion and esoteric subjects, you’ll also like this one. Much like my opinion on Brown’s work, I can’t say as though it’s a literary masterpiece, but I don’t say that as a criticism.
That’s just not why I pick up a book like this and you probably don't either--I read it for the pure adrenaline rush, for the excitement that keeps me awake to read just one more chapter, for the broadening of my own perspective on interesting subjects, and for the inspiration to do further research and learn more on my own.
And on these goals, Rose absolutely succeeds.
My only real complaints are that some of the details about Italy and Italian life stuck out to me in a bad way (and you never want your reader to have to stop and think about details that have nothing to do with the story).
Examples: An Italian who takes a whole thermos of coffee to work? Unlikely as most do quick shots of espresso at the bar. Another Italian who eats buttered and jammed rolls for breakfast? I suppose it's possible, but it certainly isn't the norm as, again, a pastry at the bar is more likely. The University of Rome "La Sapienz?" Well maybe you *could* say that, but the name is really "La Sapienza" and I can't imagine a good reason to shorten it in a novel where it's only mentioned in passing anyway.
[See comments for author M.J. Rose's response to these concerns.]
There are some others, but I'm just being picky as Rose’s research on reincarnation and the time periods of which she writes, particularly of early Christian Rome, really shines and is expertly woven into the book; I came away knowing a lot more about Rose's main subjects without feeling like I’d just been to a history lecture, which is always a positive thing.
Overall, I give this one 4 espresso cups out of 5 for the author’s impressive ability to keep me turning the pages--yes, all 464 of them in record time. I’d love to read more by Rose.
And now for my 30 Days of Thanks:
The opportunity to have read and continue to read so many wonderful books. From a young age, books have been my one of most reliable friends, and never has our relationship been more important than it is now as I'm an ocean away from family and my closest friends--not only for company in and of themselves, but also to provide me another common thread with those important in my life, yet another thing to talk about on the phone or through email.
It just makes me feel in touch with the rest of the world when I can read what they're reading.
And about books in general? Like many of you I'm sure, I love getting lost in other worlds, and isn't it just the best when you finish a book and then find yourself wondering about the characters a week (or more!) later? Or when you put off reading the last pages of a book because you just don't want it to end? I'm thankful for good authors, then, as well.
You can always see what I'm reading over on my sidebar, and now I'm wondering:
Any book recommendations you'd like to share?