Book Review: Incarnate

Title/Author:  Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
(Newsoul #1)

Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy, Science-Fiction

Published:  January 31st, 2012 by Katherine Tegen Books

Hardcover, 374 pages.

How I Got This Book:  As soon as the order went in I put it on hold at my local library.  For some reason, this one took a while to come in though.

Why I Picked It Up?:  A couple of reasons.  1.  The cover is beautiful.  2.  The summary sounds like a different kind of sf/f novel than I am used to and it sounded really interesting!

Book Jacket Blurb:  “New soul.
Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.
No soul .
Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?
Heart .
Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies–human and creature alike–let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.”

My Review of this Work:

If you want to be whisked away into a fantastical world filled with intrigue and scientific elements, then open up this beautiful book and be whisked away!  Jodi Meadows’ debut novel takes readers on a different kind of journey, filled with incarnation, a million souls, and dragons.

Ana’s birth is an anomaly:  she is not a reincarnated soul, but a new soul, one not ever recorded before.  She has no memories of previous lives because she has never been born before.  And because of this, she becomes an outcast to society.  She lives in a remote cabin outside of the city of Heart, where most of the million reincarnating souls live.  Her mother, Li, hates the mere existance of Ana and does nothing but abuse her for 18 years.  Finally, Ana sets off on her own journey to Heart to figure out who she is and where she comes from.  Along the way she is attacked by the vicious and shadowlike creatures called sylph, only to be rescued by Sam, a boy her own age.  Despite that Ana is a “nosoul”, Sam decides to help her get to Heart and find out why she exists.

In my opinion (though I know others disagree because of so many mixed reviews on Goodreads), Jodi does a fantastic job of building this world of souls.  In fact, I warn you that if you are seeking a book with high and constant action then look elsewhere.  Jodi spends a lot of time making sure readers get enough of the history of the souls to really understand the world we are reading about but not making the entire novel a history prequel.  As Ana is searching for answers, she learns more about the history of Heart, and thus so do the readers.  That said, there are still a lot of questions I had at the end of this book in regards to the world and the Temple of Heart, but those are good questions that can be answered in the next book.  You are mostly just left wondering and pondering these unanswered questions rather than left confused or lost.

There are a lot of really interesting characters in this world that we are introduced to (other than Ana and Sam) that I was definitely wanting to know more about.  And hopefully the next books in this series will focus a little more on them.  But this novel was about figuring out who Ana and Sam are as characters and developing their relationship.  I must say, I really liked Ana.  She has a confidence aura about her, even though her entire life she has been told she is nothing.  Her confidence in herself is what drives her to search for knowledge and truths.   And she is a very realistic person in terms of her actions towards others, which I really appreciated.  Because she suffered abuse her entire life, it was nice to see her as a character less willing to trust people and being wary of people’s actions with her.  Ana really is a well-developed heroine that I really enjoyed getting to know through these pages.

And then there is Sam, who has so much of a backstory but we hardly get anything at all.  He remains mostly a mystery to us, other than the fact that he has his music.  And yet Sam is a swoon-worthy guy.  Sure, he acts a little daft sometimes, especially in those sexual-tension filled moments with Ana, but a) he is a male, and  b) he, too, is trying to understand how Ana fits into Heart as well as his life.  It must be a bit weird to meet someone new in a world where you know everyone, over and over.  So some hesitancy on his part was acceptable for me, too.  But above all, he is a character that truly and deeply cares about the people in his life.  You don’t just see this with Ana (which is the obvious person you would see this interaction), but also with his friends, too.  I am really interested in seeing how Jodi develops his character more in the coming books.

My major hump with this novel had to do with the romance between Sam and Ana.  You know from the beginning that this relationship is the dreaded cheesy “instalove.” Sam is immediately smitten with Ana, but because of Ana’s abusive childhood she was slow to trust and open up, but you knew she would eventually.  But the way this instalove romance was written I didn’t mind it at all–it was slow-developed enough that it didn’t feel dreaded at all, but rather sweet.  In fact, one of my favorite scenes in this romance was when they finally kiss for the first time.  It was an absolutely beautiful episode that was entrancing and magical.  And then, right after that elegantly written scene, they go home and the cheesy instalove conversation insues, which completely took away from the  beauty of the moment before.  If it would have just been left the way it was, it would have been beautiful.  Though I understand that talking after a romantic connection is expected, it just didn’t have to be THAT cheesey.  It really took away from the development of their relationship and turned it into instalove.  Bad choice.

But aside from that, this novel is really all sorts of excellent.  If you are a fan of the sci-fi fantasy novel, then this is really a good pick for you.  Incarnate tells a new and different kind of story with such a familiarity that you will feel right at home with this book.  And yet you will be surprised.

You know that old adage “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”?  THROW IT AWAY.  Judge this book by the cover, please!!!  The cover is beautiful on the outside, and the story is beautiful on the inside.  And definitely worth a read.

Memorable Moments:

Finally, we were going to Heart, the great white city I’d heard about since I was a child.  “The idea of learning what I am is”–I rolled my shoulders to keep the backpack straps from digging–“it’s terrifying, because I might not like what I find out.  But it’s exciting.”
“There’s always the option of deciding for yourself who you are and what you’ll become.” –page 69

There was no telling if I’d be reborn when I died, but the waltz began and ended with my four notes.  He’d built the music around things that reminded him of me.  And now this.  My name.  A hundred or a thousand years after I died, someone could play my waltz, even Li, who’d always resented my presence, and they would remember me.
Thanks to Sam, I was immortal.–pages 221-222

My Bookshelf Rating:

A very intriguing and different kind of world.  Jodi Meadows builds her world in a way that just adds uniqueness and beauty to the story.  This part fantasy, part science-fiction debut novel brings a very good start to the New Souls series.  Though the romance part of this novel could have been written better, this series opener definitely leaves you wanting more.  Plus, there are dragons.  =)

Love and butterflies,
Jennifer

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8 thoughts on “Book Review: Incarnate

  1. Laura Ashlee says:

    I've been trying to make up my mind about reading this book since it came out. After reading your review, it sounds like I would enjoy it, but I'm just not ready for it right now. I'm just not up for big world building right now, but I'll definitely put it on my TBR list now.

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