This book was sent to me by Bloomsbury India in exchange of an honest review
All readers have their own comfort zones and choices of reading material. True bibliophiles will read almost anything when pressed, but given a choice between a prize-winning but not loved genre and an okay book in a beloved one, the reader is always drawn towards the genre that he/she loves best. Science Fiction is not my cup of tea.
That being said, I happened to like this science fiction book and managed to finish it in one sitting.
So, the premise of the book is that at some time in the future scientists have figured out that when an individual dies, his/her soul finds a new body in a radius of a few kilometers and it is possible to identify who received the old soul. And since all souls are registered, it is possible to find out what you were in a previous life. It is also possible to leave money to your future self. One can choose to find out who they were in an earlier life on their 18th birthday. According to Indian mythology a soul must be born 84000 times as various species before attaining the form of a human being. Considering that we have a long history of believing in ‘punar janam‘ or reincarnation, reinforced every few years by a movie or teleserial, it is still a disconcerting idea that a soul has only a few kilometers radius in which it must find a new body in a few minutes of leaving the first one. It is too neat a solution. According to the story the soul is just skipping merrily from one body to another without ever aspiring to anything greater.
Obviously, there are all kinds of studies that have been conducted (in the book) on this newly discovered phenomenon. One states that people who were violent or criminals in one life will automatically turn out to be so in the next one. This one study is the reason that Alina Chase has spent most of her life on an island under constant supervision. In a previous life she was accused of having committed a (not so according to me) heinous crime that has led people to worry that she will surely repeat something similar in this life also if given half a chance.
She wishes nothing more except to be anonymous and escape the secure facility which is really a jail created especially for her. She knows everything about her previous birth even though she is not eighteen and has always tried to be anything but her in this one. When she escapes with the help of some friends, she worries that she may have traded one prison for another. But this also gives her a chance to try and find out the truth about her previous life.
The story is interesting, creepy and extremely fast-paced. Even if one is prone to quibble about the enormous moral and ethical complications of ‘soulprinting’, the author has definitely managed to catch the attention of the reader with her idea. It isn’t overwhelming science fiction, but is more focused on Alina’s incarceration, escape and the bid to try and clear her previous self’s name.
A good, single sitting read.