A speculative and introspective debut novel about what past lives can tell people about themselves and their futures.
In 2061, Adam Capello is a normal 15-year-old kid. At this tender age, he’s legally allowed to undergo an Awakening: psychological time travel into the minds of his past lives through the ages. Under the watchful eye of Millie, his attractive guide, Adam explores and records his previous existences, including a life as an African slave in 1811 America and one as a teenage girl in Paris in 2029. Through these episodes, he begins to learn more about himself and his assumptions (he has, for example, a small crisis of sexuality when viewing himself as a “hot” girl named Sophie); he also gains knowledge of new languages and other skills from his past. It turns out that the practice of Awakening has also filled in the gaps in human understanding regarding, for example, the Mayan civilization and ancient Greece. Famous people such as Shakespeare and Henry VIII pop up in the contemporary world, but the book makes clear that although Shakespeare was a genius in his own age, that’s no guarantee of success in any other. Author Taylor has thought carefully about the implications of Awakening; at one point, for example, Adam wonders whether the ability to experience past lives is a blessing or a curse—or both. In the modern world, writes Taylor, “We question everything, thus stripping it of its magic, throwing the bare bones to the dreamers, loons and naïve people who admit to believing…but have we lost touch with the intangible?” Much of the book tells readers what’s at stake in the story, rather than showing them. However, the conceit of quoting from Adam’s journal helps make up for some of the clunky prose.
A well-conceived sci-fi exploration of the human mind and its capacity for empathy.