The Reincarnationist Papers is quite the surprising and worthwhile read from Indiana-based author, D. Eric Maikranz. From his bio on goodreads, it seems Maikranz has lived more than a typical lifetime of experiences as well, and that’s probably what contributed to the unique plot of this novel.
This novel is told in the form of three notebooks discovered by an omniscient researcher who has discovered them and occasionally adds his own footnotes to provide historical context. Evan Michaels has known for several years he’s different from anyone else. He remembers lives that aren’t his and can speak and read a language he’s never learned. His lonely and confused existence leads him to a life of risk as a paid arsonist. One night when a job goes awry, Evan finds himself at the door of a church against the barrel of a gun. On the other side of the gun is a woman who will change Evan’s life forever, a woman who knows more about Evan and his kind than he does, because she is one of his kind. She will bring him across the globe to a secret society of people he never knew he needed so that he can truly start his life of immortality.
First of all, this is a very unique premise. I was impressed with both the character development and the writing. The prose is quite enjoyable, effortless and sophisticated without verging into pretentious. There’s a whole host of characters who are of a unique variety rarely put on the page. How does an author craft a character of many faces and names, a person of one body who contains many lifetimes of wisdom and experience? It takes a certain amount of skill to think through all the different variables, the different aspects of each personality that would alter the direction these characters pursue. Some of the people Evan meets take a much more Bacchanalian approach to life. Well, when we die we will come back anyway, so why not have a little fun? Honestly, this is totally accurate. Many people already live their lives this way knowing that nothing comes after this one. They still don’t care. If they knew they’d live forever, look out, because it’d be drunken orgy 24/7. Some characters in the novel still held onto their reverence for the more pensive aspects of life, a philosophical pursuit of some kind of meaning, a desire to simply be left to their own contemplative existence.
From the reviews I perused from other readers, I noticed that many people didn’t appreciate the shift in tone. It is true that the 1st notebook contains a lot more action and adventure and the pacing is much more rapid. In the second notebook, we follow Evan to Zurich where he begins his ascension to joining the ranks of his fellow reincarnationists. There is a lot of talking, a lot of introspection, and plenty of flashbacks to historical moments in the past lives of our various characters. The third notebook throws some exciting developments at us, and we’re thrust back into the world of risk and intrigue. Essentially, the first part could be considered a thriller, the second general/historical fiction, and the third part returns to being a thriller. For the average reader, this can be a bit jarring. For my part, this didn’t bother me. I rather liked the more philosophical overtones. I enjoy all manner of fiction and don’t shy away from more cerebral reads in favor of a little action. Essentially, I would say reader beware of your own expectations before entering into this one, because this book is very fluid in tone and timbre.
As I mentioned before, the characters are well crafted. That doesn’t mean I liked them all. By the end, I despised Poppy, which was disappointing because I started off wanting to like her. All of the characters were extremely layered. In an odd way, I see this book as a coming of age story. In a sense, Evan is still very young for an immortal. He’s reached his adolescent stage in which he’s just now coming to terms with what and who he is. He’s collecting the stories of his elders and translating that all into usable advice. And he’s making a shit ton of mistakes along the way, as all annoying teenagers do. The plot to this is perfect for a series, which is what I hope Maikranz is planning. I would love to see each subsequent life for Evan in its own novel form, as I’d love to see his transcendence from lonely, confused baby immortal to wise elder. And I think Maikranz has the skills to pull this off in a way that does justice to all the players involved. Honestly, the possibilities are endless! Overall, I give this 4 stars. The movie looks dumb, and I’m not even sure I want to watch it. From the trailer alone I can tell it’s not even close to the original plot with the exception of the reincarnation and the secret society tie-in. I hope Maikranz makes something off of it, because it doesn’t look like they used his story at all, and now he probably can’t sell it to someone who will make a movie based on what he actually wrote. BAH!
That being said, Maikranz can thank the movie’s existence on the fact that I even read his book. I chose it from a list of Books Becoming Movies in 2021 because I needed a book becoming a movie for my reading challenge. Oh, and I totally forgot to mention, I read the audio on this and it’s read by the brilliant golden-voiced Bronson Pinchot. You may remember him from his 80’s acting career in the physical buddy comedy, Perfect Strangers. These days you see him less on screen but can hear his voice on over 100 audiobook titles. I highly recommend this one, as he does an incredible job.
Published May 4, 2021 by Blackstone Publishing. ISBN 1094154636. Runtime 13 hrs, 17mins. Read by Bronson Pinchot.
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