Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, Book #1 in the Newsoul trilogy. Source: Library. Format: Hardcover, 374 pages, Katherine Tegen Books, HarperCollinsPublishers, 2012.
I had mixed feelings about Incarnate. At some points I loved it, at other times I wasn’t sure what to think. Things were a little confusing at times, especially the sylph. There were so many questions I had.
Basically, there have always been one million souls that are reincarnated over and over, so each soul lives countless lives and has countless memories of ages past. Then Ana is born. But she’s new, a soul that’s never been seen before, and the soul that died and was supposed to come back is now gone forever. Obviously, all the other souls are pretty upset and bewildered. They shun Ana as a “nosoul” and she learns to keep to herself and keep a low profile to avoid excessive hostility. She’s shy, she’s insecure, she’s been taught she is worthless. I liked her, for the most part. At times she would wallow in her sorrows a bit too much, but she did grow as the story progressed. She learned to trust, made friends, found love, and gathered her bravery.
A huge reason Ana sets off on her own for the city of Heart is because she wants to uncover the reason she was born and Ciana, the soul who should have been reincarnated, wasn’t. Ana barely does any research, just a few library visits where she looks up the journals of her parents (mom: bitch, dad: took off). Most of the book is her relationship with Sam, the greatest composer of time, which was lovely, but not dramatic or that related to the plot. I liked Sam a lot, he was kind and smart and he and Ana really had chemistry, but I would have liked for more things to happen to get the story moving. The best parts were the dragon attack (yaaas, dragons, I love draaaaagons!), the costume ball (oh, so romantic), and the climax (confusing; it was the biggest thing that’d happened so far but wasn’t easy to understand).
On the subject of reincarnation… I love the idea of it, in this story and in real life. There’s something so spiritual about it. But the way it works in this book is a little creepy: People are reborn and retain all their memories from their previous lives. They can have a grandchild in one life and then be reborn as that grandchild’s grandchild. People can also be male one life, female the next. Some people who are quite literally soul mates find each other in every lifetime, but because of how reincarnation works, they could be a husband and wife one life, and then mother and son the next, or brother and sister the next, etc. There’s a crazy amount of incest going on if you think about it. It’s a little strange, but fascinating.
Also interesting, the theme of a great Creator runs through the book a lot. The creator is Janan, who some believe created all life, and who has a temple dedicated to him in the city of Heart. People say he watches over them and gives them endless lives to have. I honestly wasn’t a huge fan of the Janan plot line. I am not a religious person and while I do respect all sorts of faiths, I don’t have a huge inclination to read about them in novels. So I’m not sure what I feel about Janan and wonder if he’ll play a part in the sequels.
I really enjoyed Incarnate. I’ll be frank and tell you I’ve been wanting to read it 60% because of the cover (and the other 40% for the premise). It has its slow moments (which are a nice breather compared to a lot of other books I read that are constantly fast-paced), its tender moments, its scratch-your-head-in-puzzlement moments, and its roll-your-eyes moments, but I do recommend this unique novel and am definitely going to pick up the sequels. ♦
About Jodi Meadows:
Jodi Meadows lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy and the forthcoming ORPHAN QUEEN Duology (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen). Visit her at www.jodimeadows.com. *A Kippy is a cat.