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The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

September 13, 2010

I will say, first of all, that I have walked past The Eternal Ones in a dozen different bookstores a dozen different times. I don’t know why I picked it up this weekend. Most likely it was the red cover. Red is my favorite color. I am drawn to it much like a bull. Sigh. I wish there was some other animal I could compare myself to.

For some reason, when I went into the bookstore this weekend, it finally clicked that the author of The Eternal Ones also wrote the Kiki Strike books. I haven’t read the Kiki Strike books, but I know a lot of people who loved them. Once I’d read the inside of the dust jacket, it went straight into the growing pile in my arms. I chose this book as my first read because, even though the plot is a common one, I was still compelled to read it. Perhaps the romantic in me will always want to believe in soul mates, especially as they relate to reincarnation and past lives. I like the idea of living life over again, of getting more than one chance to live. I can’t say that I really think it happens—but that’s what fiction is for.

I whizzed through this book. I picked it up on Saturday and finished it by Sunday afternoon. It was a quick read. I liked Haven. I liked her friend Beau. I liked their friendship with each other. I especially liked the story about Beau’s Barbie lunchbox. Also, I thought I could really get behind Iain. After all, what’s not to like about a rich, handsome playboy? Am I right?

Unfortunately, though at no time did I consider not finishing the book, I started seeing problems with the plot pretty early on. For one thing, everyone in the story is far too willing to jump on the “past lives” bandwagon. It was kind of like that tradition with the cups of tea, you know? You refuse twice just for form’s sake but everyone in the room knows that you will take the darn cup the third time you’re asked. Like this:

Haven: “I think these visions I’ve been having are evidence of a past life.”

(1) Beau: “That’s crazy!”

Haven: “No, think about it. I feel faint every time I see Iain Morrow’s face. This proves that his name was Ethan in my past life and that he was my boyfriend.”

(2) Beau: “You’re insane!”

Haven (hurt): “Well, my dad wrote down all the things I said as a child about my previous life as Constance and he believed me.”

(3) Beau: “My god, you’re right! Iain is the reincarnation of your boyfriend from your past life. You know, the one who’s name was Ethan!”

Furthermore, Miller’s conception of past lives has holes you could drive a truck through. For example, one of the characters explains that reincarnation allows the eponymous “Eternal Ones” a chance to overcome their addictions. Uh, what? It’s that easy? Well, then. I’m addicted to books. Does that mean I’m going to get other lives so I can go on discovering new books eternally? I could get on board with that. The other question that is never fully resolved (though hinted at) is how many people in Haven’s life are reincarnations? Her mother? Her grandmother? Who else besides Iain?

Additionally, I was bothered by how often Haven would swing back and forth between trusting Iain and doubting him. One minute they were in bed together and the next she thought he was a murderer. A little bit of this waffling would be natural (I assume, having never been in her position), but since Haven goes back and forth so many times I kind of got fed up with her and started wondering why anyone would want to keep looking for her for two thousand years. No, that’s not entirely true. For the most part I liked Haven. But she does make some stupid choices and pretty much fumbles around in the dark. I figured out who was good and who was bad almost from the beginning and I wanted Haven to realize it too.

Another thing that I had a problem with was that I never really felt like I knew Iain. Ethan. Whatever. He was not a fully realized character. The things that seem to drive him are his love for Haven/Constance and the Ouroboros Society. Oh, the Ouroboros Society is a group of people who have past lives and have gathered together for a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” members-only club. I wanted Iain to have more depth and he didn’t. This is partly because, due to their numerous past lives, Haven and Iain begin their relationship in the middle. They don’t take the time to get to know each other because their past lives together already did all that work for them. The other reason this is the case is that Haven and Iain meet during, to say the least, a bad time. Iain is under suspicion for murder, his father’s just died and he’s got a hidden agenda that somehow relates to the Ouroboros Society.

Having written all this down, it makes it seem like there wasn’t anything good about this novel. That’s not true. I liked Miller’s writing style. I was interested in seeing Haven triumph over her enemies. I eagerly looked forward to the resolution…and was disappointed. It was predictable. It ended exactly as I guessed it would—and hoped it wouldn’t. I really hoped Miller wasn’t gonna go there.

I want to end this review by begging that you don’t let my reservations keep you from reading this book. It’s worth checking it out from the library or picking up when it comes out in paperback. I would definitely read something else by Kirsten Miller.

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