The Reborn is a mesmerizing post-apocalyptic story that captivated me from the start and continues to linger well after I’ve read it. The premise of this story is that through the use of a specific strand of DNA, it has been scientifically proven that reincarnation occurs. Although this seems like it would be a good thing, this causes all hell to break loose. It starts with prisoners being released en masse, society being destroyed, and a person in China who claims to be Genghis Khan reborn who has created an army of followers. Marcus Ryder is the soldier who killed the reborn Khan when the United States went to war with him, the strike that ended the war. He can’t adjust to his new life in an utterly ravaged United States where the entire West Coast has been destroyed by nukes and eventually winds up with an organization called the Shepherds. Now that authorities can identify murderers, rapists, and other criminals before they are born, there job is to eliminate them while they are still in the womb. Except things aren’t all that they seem to be, which leads Marcus into making hard choices.
This is one of the most well-conceived and spellbinding post-apocalyptic tales I have ever read. The concept behind it is really neat. The world building is even better. Talley really thought things through in the way he constructed the story. From a purely mechanical standpoint, I like the way he weaved in the backstory. The writing is superb, but I expect no less from Talley, who has established himself as the best new writer I have read in recent years.
Also enjoyable are the moral dilemmas that Talley presents. Ostensibly, it would make sense that if you knew that somebody would turn out to be a killer that you should eliminate them before they are born. The problem is that when Marcus and his colleagues are going after pregnant women, it just doesn’t feel right. Of course, things aren’t as they appear. Both Marcus and the tone of the story take a major shift. If I had one complaint, and it’s a minor one, is that there were thousands if not millions of followers of Khan in the US, who out of nowhere turned and began killing friend, family, and neighbor. This didn’t ring true to me. I realize there was once a Civil War, but this was divided along territorial lines and was based on generations of ideology that vastly differed from one part of the country to the other. I didn’t buy that ordinary people in this country would decide to kill their neighbors based off the words of a man thousands of miles away.
This was an amazing story, the sort that will make you think long and hard and stay with you well after you read it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and highly recommended it.
Carl Alves - author of Reconquest: Mother Earth