Saturday, April 7, 2012

Book Review: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

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?


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?

Pages: 384
Author: Jodi Meadows
Add It: Goodreads
Series: Newsoul (#1)
Publisher: Katherine Tegen
Rating: 3/5

I am a big fan of the world that Jodi Meadows has crafted in her Newsoul series. With so much dystopia on the shelves I didn't realize how refreshing it would be to read about a utopia.

In a world where people die only to come back in a different body to different parents there is much opportunity for fascinating relationship dynamics. There is also an opportunity for the exploration of what it is like to have lived life in both a woman's body and a man's. The novel also discusses what might happen if two lovers come back as the same gender and that wasn't their physical preference. I thought that raising these sorts of questions made this a very smart book and let it stand out among other YA books on the shelves today.

My complaint is that I think too much time was spent on the romance and not enough time exploring these very interesting ideas. I did enjoy Sam as a character. I think he may be one of my favorite male leads. I just wish the romance had taken a bit more of a backseat. I also thought it was sweet that their relationship grew with music, but beyond that I didn't see much between them that would have built a romance, other than the fact that Sam was her first friend and that she was the only new person in the entire world he hadn't met yet. That made the relationship seem less real to me. In fact, I kind of think it made it sort of unhealthy given Sam's actual age and power over Ana from the start, even if he didn't seem to be trying to use that power.

Ana's personality is very combative and at times irrational. I thought that it was very realistic given the abusive environment she grew up in and I really respect Jodi for not creating another bland and likeable character who is loved by everyone. I know from personal experience that Ana's behavior after leaving her abusive childhood is realistic. Mental abuse (and physical) leaves its mark. It colors the way you perceive the world and other people. It takes years to recover from that type of abuse, and I'm not sure that you ever completely do. I hope that Ana is able to grow throughout the series and learn to trust people. I am excited to go on that journey with her.

Another wonderful thing about this book is the addition of dragons and sylphs. I love fantasy and am immediately drawn in by books that include magical creatures. I thought they added extra enjoyment to the conclusion of the book. I was a little disappointed with the other answers provided at the end so I was happy the dragons and sylphs were present to keep the ending exciting.

I would recommend this series to others while admitting that it is very much a first book and doesn't quite reach the potential of the questions it raises. I do think that given time to grow the series can be very worthwhile and I think it should be given a chance. Jodi has created a very original world and I'm eager to see where she goes with it as she continues to build Heart.


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