Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

IncarnateIncarnate by Jodi Meadows
Series: Newsoul #1
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books on January 31, 2012
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 389
Source: Purchased
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Rating: ★★★

New soul

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.

No soul

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?

Heart

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.

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows - I died to be reborn with you

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!

The Verdict

okay

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8 comments

  1. I liked this one…at first but the same things that bothered you bothered me too. As more time passed it bugged me more and more. Now, I don’t think I’ll continue with the series.
    The reincarnation aspect was awesome as well as where they live with all of the scary creatures. The fact that they reincarnated to males AND females was way too weird for me! WTF?! All I kept thinking was OMG, he’s had a penis AND a vagina. Not at the same time but still, that must be weird. I wanted to really like this one…

    1. LMAO! I know what you mean. It was pretty awkward. It just made me wonder.. is the entire community bisexual? Or what’s the deal? I have nothing against bisexuals but I’m just genuinely curious.. how does it work in this book? And how is it not awkward for Ana, who’s clearly heterosexual?

      I actually did end up reading Asunder because I happened to have an ARC, and I think I liked it a bit more. It wasn’t amazing, but I think I’ve decided on 4 stars for that one instead of 3. There’s less awkward romance in it and more of the cool fantasy stuff!

    1. The thing with this book is that it’s so hard to tell where you’ll fall. I know people who LOVED THE FREAKING PANTS OFF OF IT, and I know people who thought it was the worst book in the world, and I know people who felt the same way I did—somewhere in the middle. It’s hard to know which side you’ll be on!

  2. This is what bothered me.

    There are a million souls. 1,000,000. How then do you know EVERYONE? It’s A MILLION PEOPLE. Heart sounds like a small place, so how is it that at given chance souls can be reincarnated so often? If it’s a million people and you have so many bodies, howda the same peeps keep cropping up?

    Is there like a giant gladiator fight in the souls world and the best soul wins to be pushed out?

    Some souls are reincarnated often. Ok, but if there are a million, I doubt you’ll get to see the same peeps while you’re alive.

    sigh.

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