By: Jodi Meadows
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Fantasy (utopian/dystopian elements)
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours
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 the 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.
Jodi Meadows has created a fascinating world in Incarnate, one where there are a finite number of souls that are continuously reincarnated. Can you imagine? Knowing that if you die, you’ll just be reborn in a few years with all your memories intact? Never meeting anyone new; spending thousands and thousands of years with the same people; knowing their personalities and habits as well as you know your own. Each person has specific skills and a certain role in society, and this is just the way it’s always been.
But Ana is new. A newsoul (or nosoul, according to some) who has been kept isolated and treated like a nobody for her entire life. And now she has decided to journey into the city of Heart and try to find answers about why she exists and what will happen to her after she dies.
I think this is such a fascinating way to look at reincarnation, and I loved getting to explore the world of Heart through Ana’s eyes. It did feel like a lot less than one million people existed though (where did they all live?). And the way the reincarnation works has the potential for some pretty weird situations – someone who was your mother in a past life could end up being your child in a future life, or even your lover. It’s so unique and creative, but I still have so many questions about how everything works! I’m really looking forward to more world-building in future books.
Ana is a fantastic character, and although initially she has very low self-esteem and is apologetic for her feelings and actions, she also has incredible inner strength and bravery as well as being smart and curious and resourceful. This unlikely combination of qualities makes for a really interesting and enjoyable narrator.
Ana’s growth throughout the novel is also due in part to Sam. Oh, lovely lovely Sam. Sam, who is so wonderfully sweet and caring, and slowly makes Ana believe that she’s worth something after a life of being told she’s nothing. It’s beautiful watching the two of them interact and seeing Ana’s gradual transformation.
The development of their relationship is also incredibly sweet and lovely, and it happens so delightfully slowly. It was natural. I’ve never been a huge fan of the insta-romance that we see so often in YA novels, and Incarnate definitely has the slow burn that I love. Things just continue to build and build between Ana and Sam until you’re dying for them to just kiss already.
The dialogue was a bit choppy at times, and it was often difficult to tell who was saying what, though this could be because I was reading an unfinished advanced copy. I also felt like the ending was a little bit rushed and not intense enough. Which just makes me want the next book to come out even faster, but I think that more could have been done with the ending of this one instead of leaving so many questions unanswered. Regardless, I’m seriously looking forward to the rest of the series and I can’t wait to journey back to Heart and visit Sam and Ana again.
With captivating mythology, a brilliant heroine, and a wonderfully sweet romance, Incarnate is an entrancing novel and definitely not one to miss. I absolutely devoured it; you’re not going to want to put it down!
*Also, how gorgeous is that cover?! LOVE it.