Series: Newsoul #1
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books on January 31, 2012
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
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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.
Incarnate was really conflicting for me. There are parts I enjoyed, and parts I really didn’t like. I was nervous going into it because I have friends who ABSOLUTELY FREAKING LOVE it, and I have friends who ABSOLUTELY FREAKING DESPISE it. Crazy, huh? I happen to fall somewhere in the middle.
I quickly realized that I did not like Ana as a character. I tried to force myself to remember and understand that she was kind of emotionally abused as a child. Her mother raised her to believe that she was a worthless piece of crap. But even so, it bugged me to see Ana being so self-critical, even when all the evidence was pointing to the contrary. Every single time she opened her mouth, it was to say things like:
“Everybody hates me!”
“I’m a nosoul, I can’t love.”
“People don’t want to greet me, they want to gawk at me.”
“Maybe you’re just my friend because you pity me.”
That’s some major paraphrasing, but you get the point. Even though she obviously wasn’t a nosoul (she had a soul, it was just brand new, so that made her a newsoul), she insisted that she was. Even though she obviously felt love, joy, and even hatred, she insisted that she was incapable of loving (because that’s what her mother said). Even though I knew where this attitude was coming from—and could understand it to a certain degree—I started getting really annoying and frustrated when it continued throughout the ENTIRE book. I just wanted Ana to grow up and quit doubting anyone and everyone around her. I honestly thought she acted more like a hormonal 13/14 year old than an 18 year old.
I’ll talk about one thing I did like: the story. I LOVE the idea of reincarnation. I love the world they live in. I love the dragons. I love the histroy. All of it! I was really interested to learn more about their society and their lives and how it all works. It was pretty fascinating! For me, it was all in the unique fantasy details: the pulsing walls of Heart, the dragons that mysteriously attack the same place, the strange religious undertones.. However, I did start to have some problems with the idea of reincarnation when romance got involved…
When people are reincarnated, sometimes they are male and sometimes they are female. I thought it was really sweet we learned about these two people who were soulmates. Every time they were reincarnated, they found one another and could be together. At first they kept killing each other until they were reincarnated as different genders and the same age, but eventually their love overcame that and they just lived together despite it all. I thought it was really sweet and romantic! But for some reason, I got a little creeped out by Ana and Sam’s situation. A romance develops between Ana and Sam. When Sam brings her to his house for the first time and puts her in a room clearly intended for a girl, she asks why he had that room prepared for a visitor. He replied stating that it’s his bedroom for when he gets reincarnated as a girl. Ana then proceeded to wear his female clothes (but not the underwear, thank goodness). I just couldn’t help but constantly be reminded that sometimes Sam is a girl, and sometimes he’s a guy; his male friend may have been his female lover in another life, or even his parent… it all just got too weird for me.
I was also never sold on Ana and Sam’s relationship in general. I tried to put the whole male/female/etc. thing aside, but even so, I never fell in love with their romance. There was a really obvious point in the story where their romance started..abruptly. Up until that point I only saw friendship, then suddenly the room was loaded with sexual tension. I was just like…where the heck did that come from?? Did I miss something? Overall, I think Sam seemed like a really shallow character. I would read chapters where Ana was totally swooning over him, but I felt absolutely nothing. I also felt like there was no chemistry between Sam and Ana. That’s kind of a big problem for me when looking at the series overall, because I feel like soulmates will play a huge role in future books (it was only introduced in this one). If I’m not really feeling their romance, I feel like I won’t even be able to enjoy that at all. I think it’s also hard for me to appreciate their relationship when I imagine that Sam has probably been with HUNDREDS of women/lovers. Is his relationship with Ana really that much better or more intense than ANY of the previous ones?
There were a few other parts of the story that felt extremely abrupt. Sometimes I literally felt like I was missing big transitioning parts of the story because I just had no idea where they were coming from. For example, at one point there is a dragon attack. Everyone is scrambling around, finding shelter, or attacking the dragons. Ana kind of rescues Sam at one point and he’s like, “I’m sorry! I wanted to be brave for you!” Then suddenly, at least an entire chapter later, he’s majorly depressed. Ana seems to know exactly what the problem is (a little PTSD dragon attack kind of thing) but I felt like I didn’t catch onto it AT ALL. After the attack I thought he seemed fine. But then later he was freaking out so I didn’t even make the connection with the dragons. It’s almost like I just wasn’t following along with the train of thought.
I think the second half of this story is what resulted in me giving Incarnate an extra star. The second half has some really interesting plot developments, so even though I wasn’t a fan of Ana, Sam, or their romance, I was still able to enjoy the story. I will be reading the second book because I happen to have a copy already. Maybe I’ll end up enjoying it a bit more!