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Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
“The soul has no face, no gender or color, no sexuality, or even a nationality to call its own. Regardless of how many lives it lives, it just simply is.” Bender by Alexander Rigby explores the transcendence of reincarnation, where two people - botanist Riley Dawes and the enigmatic Catherine Wharton - find themselves connected through their past lives. A fascinating machine, Bender, is able to scrutinize the very fabric of a human soul and determine a special marker which would tell if a soul is a repeat. The machine then will reveal a soul’s past identities and find out where it has gone before.
Riley's and Catherine’s past lives’ stories span from 1263 B.C. ancient Egypt, where a princess falls in love with a slave, to the Renaissance era in 1504 A.D. Florence, Italy, where a taboo love blossoms between two men. Then Rigby takes us to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the '80s, where a couple is torn between loyalty and love. As a fan of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, the different subplots, timelines, locations and characters in Bender are sufficient as a vibrant tapestry of humanity. I’m satisfied and entertained with the way the reincarnation theme is constructed to create this story.
Even though laced with tragedies and heartbreaks, these four different stories about two souls have their beautiful moments. Rigby provides a great ending to an intriguing and substantial read that challenges how we fundamentally perceive the beginning and the end of one’s life. I highly recommend Bender to my fellow readers.