The Reincarnationist Papers
“For fans of The Matrix and Memento, a twisty, exciting adventure!”—Diana Gabaldon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Outlander series
The basis for the major motion picture Infinite
Discovered as three notebooks in an antique store in Rome at the turn of the millennium, The Reincarnationist Papers offers a tantalizing glimpse into the Cognomina, a secret society of people who possess total recall of their past lives.
Evan Michaels struggles with being different, with having the complete memories of two other people who lived sequentially before him. He fights loneliness and believes he is unique until he meets Poppy. She recognizes his struggle because she is like him, except that she is much older, remembering seven consecutive lives. But there is something else she must share with Evan—she is a member of the secretive Cognomina. They are, in effect, immortals—compiling experiences and skills over lifetimes into near superhuman abilities that they have used to drive history over centuries.
Poppy invites Evan into the Cognomina, but he must face their tests before entering this mysterious society as their equal.
Maikranz's spellbinding dark fantasy debut offers a fresh take on the concept of reincarnation. Professional arsonist Evan Michaels has vivid, unexplained visions from his two previous lives as WWI soldier Vasili and six-year-old Bobby. When a death-defying arson job in a Los Angeles warehouse leaves Evan incapacitated and very nearly apprehended by the authorities, he is rescued by Poppy, a Reincarnationist from a Switzerland-based secret society called Cognomina, whose members are similarly capable of remembering past lives. Evan longs for the answers that Cognomina can provide, but to join their ranks he'll have to pass a trial called the Ascension. And, once he's in, the lure of wealth and power proves impossible to resist. Presented as a true account of the Cognomina society unearthed from an antique store in Rome, this nail-biting mystery builds slowly, with Evan's search to understand his identity propelling the plot forward before the action kicks into high gear in the final act. The high stakes and clever premise of Maikranz's thrilling debut successfully evoke a sense of wide-eyed awe.
A little disappointing but there’s potential!
In my opinion, in spite of the interesting premise, this book was pretty slow. There were parts that could easily have been cut or condensed early on. Evan was also a difficult character to get invested in due in both to his stiff dialogue (which seemed far too elevated for a 21 year old coming just to terms with his memories), and lack of a personality. I understand that this book is presented as a translation, but it seems like the translator took many liberties with Evan seeing as how it’s told in 1st person most of the time. Actually, the footnotes could have been used to the translator’s benefit more than just to confirm place names or historical events. There was only one that I recall that made note of a difference between Bulgarian and English in written form.
The other characters were interesting, especially when the narrative switched to 3rd person to recount their past lives. I thought those scenes were the most engaging, and wish Evan’s could have been useful in building him as a person. Though some were harrowing like young Bobby’s, Vasili’s were pretty general. I didn’t really feel the weight the past lives held on him other than guilt, and was a little confused by the role Bobby’s mom played in Evan’s dreams.
As for the other characters, it felt like Evan was either in the way of their narratives or just a tool to satisfy their own wants. It’s actually ironic they called themselves a family. I also didn’t really buy Poppy’s cavalier attitude towards drug addiction being that they’re simply “different” from other people. That doesn’t change the fact they’re human with human bodies. Though I thought her bleak take on life was believable, I wish there was a little more diversity in perspective (and speech for that matter) since the other characters seemed to be as apathetic as she was. In the end, this was still an interesting experiment on past lives and I appreciated the author’s inclusion of research for further study. I got the impression based on the large amount of dialogue and attention to character movement that this book may work better as a film, and seeing as how that’s happening, I hope it’s to this book’s benefit!
Captured my attention right away
It is hard for me to get sucked into a story, but this one got me right away. It is an interesting twist and I really look forward to seeing the movie. I do wish I knew what happened to Evan in his next lives.