Series: Newsoul #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on January 31st, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
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 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 brings to us, with Incarnate, a vastly creative and original young adult novel. This is one of those times where I’m almost speechless because of the subtle beauty of this story. The most challenging thing of this review is to explain why exactly I did like it very much. Perhaps it’s best explained through actions, not words, with the fact that I read it within a day, which is not very common for me.
Normally, typically, I’m the kind of reader that falls for a big adventure story with equal parts action and suspense. A beautiful romance on the side is a big plus and most times a must. I fall for the strong female characters, absolutely adore them. And this story is not really that (aside from the love story which is to die for).
Incarnate is more light than most novels that I tend to read (aside from contemporary stories then). I guess it helped that I really didn’t know what to expect before I read it. The blurb had long since faded from my memory. In any case, the novel contains its fair share of mystery but is more introspective than other fantasy novels. I think what captured and absorbed me was the premise. Despite being firmly agnostic, reincarnation is a big belief in my family and I simply adored it for asking the questions of how exactly that would work. I think it’s a big thumbs up to Jodi Meadows for being able to write such a story without spoon feeding us religious preachings. I guess that’s what resonated with me: being able to explore the idea of reincarnation without it being attached to religion – with it just being a fact of life that no one can really explain.
Ana cannot be typified as a strong female character, however I did fall for her. I don’t know what it was, but her introspective personality and constant doubtfullness I felt really fit the story. I don’t mind a not-strong character if it’s necessary, and here I felt it was. She definitely also showed her strength at the end – which to me signified a nice character arc during the story. At the beginning, with no one to trust, and constantly questioning her existence, of course she wasn’t the resolute strong character. But the novel captures her journey of self-discovery, and while not all questions are answered by the end, she comes to terms with who she is and finds something to fight for. That, to me, is beautiful – not to mention, realistic.
Speaking of beautiful, I was a total sucker for this love story. I mean, they had a masquerade ball!! Just like Ana was an uncommon female main character for me, in a way, Sam was uncommon as well. It was so refreshing to have a love interest that isn’t dark, moody, and a sometimes-jerkface. Admittedly, Sam was sometimes moody, but those events were timed brilliantly to enhance the mystery of his character. Aside from that, he was sweet and kind and pretty darn drool-worthy. He may be one of my favorite male leads in YA. And there was a nice balance to the love story of wanting to respect each others wishes.
On a personal note, I, as a music-geek, really loved all the music in the novel. The constant references, Sam being Sam, piano music constantly, and theory elements thrown in. I loved reading about Ana learning how to compose. It was so beautiful and really resonated with me.
The negative thing I have to say is about the world building, or lack thereof. It’s not completely missing, but it was unclear. I had a really difficult time picturing the world, especially the city of Heart. And I think that was more unclear because of how, for example, they have lasers and air drones, but walk everywhere because the cars are locked up (for pollution reasons, which I must respect). I guess I just have a difficult time figuring out how advanced and sci-fi-esque the city is, which innovations they have and which they don’t.