Sunday, June 23, 2013

Review: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Review: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Release date: January 31st, 2012
Publisher: Katherine Tegen (HarperCollins)
Rating: This book broke me out of my reading slump! I've got a few world-building quibbles, but the concept is AMAZING, the book moves quickly, and Sam is perfection. This book is full of soul and Heart (I AM SO FUNNY).

Incarnate (Newsoul, #1)

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.

The cover: SO MUCH PRETTY. I think the hand looks a little awkward, but I love the overblown pastel covers and the butterfly and that it has SIGNIFICANCE for the plot. Also I like the swirly thing behind the title.

The story: If you were lazy and didn't read the synopsis above, then you need to know that the basic concept of Range is that people's souls live forever. They just get reincarnated into new bodies (both male and female! Which I love!), and have been doing so for about five thousand years. Except for Ana. She just appeared. She is a Newsoul.

Which is why THIS SONG was stuck in my head THE WHOLE TIME I WAS READING:

Enjoy. It's a good song.

Anyway, the book. I really liked this book. Once I started reading, it kind of kept tugging me along, and I didn't want to put it down. Which was lovely, since I've been having problems with that recently. I just found the whole "reincarnated" thing fascinating. And Meadows does an excellent job of setting that whole system up logically, even if it is mega creepy at times (what if you give birth to your old lover's soul?! Ewww. I'm assuming the Council-y people avoid that. But ew).

Seriously, she makes every little facet of this concept work perfectly, and addresses all the philosophical questions that would arise from this. Range, and the City of Heart, have a very set system. They've been living the same lives for nearly five thousand years. They've seen the same people, they've believed in the same things, and while they've invented new technology, they haven't really changed. Because they're all really freaking old on the inside.


Enter Ana. Ana is shiny and new and full of questions. She hates herself to an almost annoying degree, but she's a really well-developed character with a strong draw towards music. She's also very curious, which I love in a main character, because that means she goes out investigating things the reader wants to know. There is one point I wish she'd pressed harder, because the second it came up I was like "ALL THE ANSWERS MUST BE RIGHT THERE!", but I'm assuming that's all for Book Two. Yes, that's vague, TOO BAD.

I sort of wish Ana had found her self-worth because of herself, rather than because of a guy, but her self-worth was so pathetically low that it was a joy to see it improve (not a surprise, after eighteen years of her HEINOUS "mother" Which... why did Li despise Ana so much? I wish that had been explained. Possibly it'll show up in the sequel.)

This brings us to the most important point of the whole book. Sam.

Now, I already have a thing for fictional boys named Sam, but this Sam is awesome. He is, one hundred percent, a good man. He's smart and sensitive and kind, and he's constantly amazed by Ana's newness. You can tell the guy REALLY needed to meet someone new after five thousand years. Is it slightly creepy that a guy who is physically a teenager but psychologically 5,000 is dating a girl who's only 18? A little. But I love that Ana fully acknowledges that. And it's not like she's got any other options. She's the youngest person in Range by quite a few millennia. And this book is so romantic and swoony. The love story was bar far my favorite part.

On to my quibbles. While I LOVE the reincarnation part of the world-building, the rest left me a little confused. Was it fantasy? Dystopian? Science fiction? I would go with fantasy with science fiction elements myself, but it's a little confusing. So we have advanced technology... but there are dragons? And centaurs? And sylphs? It worked, ultimately, but it felt a little strange.

Janan, their god, is also VERY cool. Apparently he built the city of Heart, which all the souls in their first lifetime stumbled upon fully completed. But he hasn't really made an appearance since then, leaving them to fight off the dragons and such all on their own, so a bunch of people have stopped believing in him. But a bunch also REALLY have not. There's lots of mysterious mythology here that Ana has to get to the bottom of: namely, why does she exist?

I'm really excited to get to the sequel. This book ticked all the boxes for me, and I've got a new book boyfriend to add to the collection. I'm glad, for once, that all the hype wasn't misplaced,  because I'm definitely a fan!


  1. Glad you enjoyed this one! I had the same quibble about pinning down the genre, but in the end, it sort of just went away for me. LOVED Sam. Oh, how I loved him!

    I'm reading Asunder right now...I'm not far enough to really make a call on it yet, but I *think* it's going to avoid the sophomore slump. Woo!

  2. Yay! I have an ARC of Asunder, but haven't gotten around to starting the series. I'm so glad she had progress because that's always important to me and Sam sounds GREAT. And yay for Ems' comment as well because celebratory dance for no sophomore slumps! But really, I'm extremely glad you liked this one so now I know it won't be a waste of my time.

  3. This was a wonderful review! I don't have this one, but it sounds awesome! The world building sounds confusing but like it works and I'm all about world building and awesome characters. Also what a cool concept. I can dig it!

  4. I AM SO HAPPY YOU LIKED THIS. Incarnate was one of my favorite debuts in 2012, because it completely sucked me in and had me fascinated with the world and the story. Also... Sam is mine. Has been since 2012, just saying ;) I take it he's another fictional character we share a mutual love for? Haha.

  5. YAY Gillian! I felt mostly the same way about this one. I am doing an Incarnate/Asunder review soon since I...failed and never reviewed Incarnate, then forgot about it until I read Asunder. I rated the both of them a little lower, but there's no shortage of FEELS in Asunder. LOTS of Sam, and Sam/Ana, and you do learn more, and a lot starts making more sense. And Janan. *stabs*

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  6. I love that song!

    Merp. This is one of those times where we didn't have the same thoughts, which makes me sad, but also happy, since you got to love a thing. I didn't get the dragons and the sylphs. They seemed out of place to me. Le sigh. I would have liked more focus on the reincarnation.


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