Book Review: Incarnate
By: Jodi Meadows
Published By: HarperCollins/Katherine Tegan Books
Publication Date: January 31, 2012
Source: ARC Provided by Publisher
Audience: YA - Utopian*/Fantasy
I have so many thoughts! This is going to be a lengthy review, doves, so grab a latte or your beverage of choice, and possibly a snack, and lets get into it.
Where to start, where to start? Well, first of all, let's go with my classification up there, Utopian. I was over at Goodreads, looking for the cover jpeg (isn't the cover gorgeous??) and summary, and I stumbled upon Lyndsey of Strangemore.com, and her clarification between dystopia and utopia and I thought that was pretty nifty as well as accurate. Isn't the internet a wonderful thing? We can learn so much! And not just on Pinterest....but I digress.
I truly enjoyed this book, and it gave me a paranormal/romance break. The writing voice was unique and fresh, as was the premise of the book - Incarnation. In the world Ana lives in, she is unique and unknown. For 5,000 years, the same million souls have been reincarnated again and again, friends, lovers, foes alike. All remember their previous lives and the skills and life lessons they have learned. Until the Year of Songs that is. This is the year Ana is born, instead of Ciana. In the 18 years since, Ciana has not been reborn. Ana is a newsoul, or as her vicious of a mother calls her, a nosoul. As you can tell by my description, Ana's upbringing has not been kind. Her mother, Li, was abusive and cruel. When she leaves her old life behind and travels to Heart, the city and seat of their society, she runs into Sam. After attacks by burning shadow creatures called slyth, they arrive at the great city. As wary as she is of people in general, Ana is not prepared for treatment she receives. Some are kind and warm, and others suspicious and threatening.
The world the author has created is complex and simple at the same time. I found it to be lush (Heart) and sparse (the Range) and completely captivating. The characters also carry those dual and sometimes opposing qualities - Nothing and no one is as they seem. The author's writing is very well done and exquisitely timed with a subtle musical quality, which compliments the story perfectly.
There are themes of faith, self reliance, and trust interwoven very cleverly. It wasn't in your face, which is perfect for YA in my opinion, because teens don't generally want to hear what we old fogeys have to say anyway. I hope any readers, teens especially, find it as thought provoking as I did. I've said it before but I can't say it enough, I am so heartened and pleased to see this type of well written novels in this genre, and for this generation. With the popularity of The Hunger Games, it seems to be catching the attention of publishers, movie makers and teenagers alike and I couldn't be more hopeful that this will combat the vapidness of some of the current pop culture trends like Jersey Shore.
Which brings me to the characters. Ana is very realistic and I look forward to seeing her grow into her confidence in the next installment. Sam, likewise was very interesting. 5000 years old and currently a teenager (18, the same age as Ana by the way), he struggles with hormones and centuries of knowledge. Their friendship is organic and natural as the story and the characters themselves progress.
As I type this, I'm still waffling between four and five birdies. Incarnate is engaging and well written, and I read the first half in one sitting. I had to put it down at some point (stupid insignificant things like sleeping and feeding those other people, work, etc) but I didn't rush to pick it back up. I think because it was very involved and this happened to be a hard week for me. So I'm going to give it 4.5 birdies. I really encourage everyone to read this one - I enjoyed it that much. As I said before, do not look for this one on Emptying the Nest - I'm keeping this one!
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?