I thought this would be the perfect title to start a new year, but I have mixed feelings about this book. At times, the characters moved me and pulled me through the story. At other times, I had to force myself to keep reading. In the summary I read on Goodreads, the plot sounded like an appealing mix of dystopian fantasy and historical fiction. I understood it was about reincarnation, but the summary did not lead me to believe it would so heavily involve chakras, souls, religion, etc. I thought the writing itself was inconsistent and the heavy message it tried to impart slowed the action in the story.
What made the reading painfully slow for me was the inclusion of footnotes. I have read plenty of historical fiction where the author has thoroughly researched their topic, and sometimes that information is included in the back of the book. Reading this novel, I consistently came across footnotes — many times for trivial things. For example, if you are quoting from the Bible, I don’t need a link to prove the quote exists. I will assume you had an editor, and someone checked your references; I don’t need to. Aside from this, the authors used internet links for many footnotes (I read this on a kindle copy from NetGalley), and there seemed to be a number of links that had expired. (Because yes, I checked them all, and that is a lot of time away from the actual story. Hopefully this was corrected in the final version.) To me, the inclusion of footnotes in this particular book was like the authors patting themselves on the back saying, “See, we did a lot of research,” and also, “Hey, we didn’t make this stuff up, honest!” Maybe that will appeal to you, but I don’t usually care if the novels I read are based on fact, because, you know, it’s fiction.
This book also reminded me of the book about vampires I read not too long ago, Blood of the Lamb, where all the famous people of the world just happened to be vampires. In One Great Year, there were two “good” characters and two “evil” characters, and yes, they, and some of their friends, comprised most of the good and bad people throughout history. Genghis Khan? Check. Plato? Check. Mother Teresa? You get the picture. I will give the authors credit for weaving so much of history into this story, and admit also that I had never heard of the concept of the “Great Year”, which I found very interesting — probably the reason I finished the book at all.
So did I like this book? I’m not really sure. I had high hopes for it – at it’s best, it was a pale shadow of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. The first description used for this book on Goodreads is “epic”. I would say that is what the authors aspired to, and what I hoped for, but not necessarily what they achieved.