I try to avoid blanket rejections of entire subgenres, but stories about people finding out they’ve lived multiple lifetimes have never really resonated with me. With that in mind, I wasn’t certain Transcendence was the right book for me, but I figured I’d at least give it a chance. I now have to applaud C. J. Omololu for being the first author to write a book about reincarnation that I actually liked.
What separates Omololu from the pack is that she doesn’t automatically package “reincarnation” with “destiny” and “soul mates.” I have a hard time buying into the concept of two people who are somehow drawn together through space and time, find one another against overwhelming odds and fall head-over-heels in love after simply locking eyes.
Transcendence is a refreshing departure from this trope. There’s definitely an element of romance in the story, but it doesn’t require every couple to be soul mates in the sense that the person you fall in love with in one lifetime remains the person you are in love with for all eternity. It is much more complex than that. In Transcendence, not everyone who dies is born into a new body immediately after their death; it may take years before they come back as someone else. This means that one partner might be born into a new life in a small town in Canada, while the other partner might not return for another 50 years, and then possibly on a different continent or even as a different gender. Meanwhile, the first person may have fallen in love with someone new, married them, and had children with them. The second partner may do the same as well. If the former lovers do have the opportunity to reconnect, the relationship may not work out in this lifetime.
Think about the implications of this for a moment. Imagine falling blissfully, irrevocably in love with someone and knowing that after you die you may never see them again. Imagine knowing that if you do see them, centuries later, they will likely be unavailable. Even if they are available, you will know that each of you have loved someone else, been intimate with someone else, maybe married someone else and loved them deeply. You’ll both have lived entire lifetimes in which the other had no place, created memories that neither of you will possibly be able to share. The idea of this is heartbreaking, and even though this theme of changing relationships is only tangential to Transcendence, not central, it was one of my favorite things about the book. The author deserves a lot of credit for looking beyond the old “our love will be enough for all eternity” cliché.