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.
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 suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?
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. ~From GoodReads
Incarnate is the story of Ana, who depending on who you ask, is either a nosoul or a newsoul. In a world filled with souls who have been reincarnating for thousands of years, Ana is an anomaly. Burdened by anger and shame over her daughters soul status, Ana's mother, Li, raises Ana outside the city of Heart, the home of the souls. After enduring the first eighteen years of her life, emotionally and physically abused at the hands of her mother, Ana is ready to flee. To discover how and why she came to be. With the help of her rescuer and friend, Sam, the journey she undertakes will push her beyond greater highs and lows she could have ever imagined.
I want to start by saying I am at a bit of a loss over writing this review. I wanted to love Incarnate, to be swept away and overrun by the emotions in the book. I went into this book with a completely open mind, open to the unique world and fascinating possibilities.
But what happened was...I was a bit confused, and sometimes underwhelmed. I spent the first one hundred pages trying to get my bearings, to know exactly what was going on. I had questions. Where does this take place? Earth, another planet, an alternate dimension? When does it take place? The past, the future, an alternate parallel timeline? And the biggest question of all: Does it even matter (aka, why can't I just shut up and read)? With these questions swirling in my head, I had a hard time focusing on the story at hand.
In addition to the questions I just posed, there were a few more things I had a difficult time wrapping my head around. The Souls have been around for 5,000 years! Let that sink in a minute...I spent a lot of time trying to fathom the amount of identities they possessed. One life you're a man, the next a woman, fat/thin, handsome/ugly...my head hurts. Add in the fact that if you have a "soul mate", in one life they may be born within a few years of you; the next life you may be the same age as their grandparents. Another factor that I didn't understand was the "Years". There were "Years of Song", "Years of Hunger", and several others. I didn't feel those were explained very well, so I wasn't able to follow along when they were discussed. In general, I felt the world-building in Incarnate was less than complete.
The characters and their relationships to one another are what made Incarnate a likable read, for me. Ana was a brave, resilient, and clever girl. She was raised by a deliberately cruel mother who abused her at every turn. Ana was able to eke an existence out of the poor circumstances she held, and I admire her strength. The character I really fell in love with, though, was Sam. Sam saves Ana and instantly becomes her friend and protector with no hesitation or judgment. He is willing to go to the wall, take any chances to protect her. His gentle approach to Ana, who is as skittish as a wild, wounded animal made me fall in love with him. The fragile, slow-building relationship between Ana and Sam is what saved Incarnate for me.
I wouldn't say that I didn't like Incarnate. In fact, there were moments that I downright loved it. But they were not enough to make this a must-read book, in my opinion. I had such high hopes for Incarnate and hope that a lot more about the world will be explained in book two.
" 'So all our time in the cabin was nothing to you?'
I remembered listening to him read aloud, telling him about the roses I brought back to life, and falling asleep leaning against his shoulder. 'It was everything,' I whispered, half hoping he didn't hear."
~pg 112-113 (ARC)
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Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: January 31st 2012 by HarperCollins Children's Books
You can pre-order Incarnate at:
* I received an ARC of Incarnate from Harper Teen, in exchange for an honest review. *