Incarnate (Newsoul #1)
by Jodi Meadows
Release Date: January 31st, 2012
2012 Katherine Tegen Books
Hardcover Edition; 374 Pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Source: From the Publisher
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
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?
Incarnate is the first novel is the Newsoul series and definitely has an intriguing concept: A new soul is born into a world where humans have been reincarnated for over five thousand years, where people wait for those they have known for millenium to be reborn, keeping their experiences, their thoughts, and their memories. And when a new soul is born amidst all these old souls, the other soul has disappeared forever, causing chaos and shock for the people expecting that old soul to reappear. And while I was fascinated by the concept, my first thought was how a community could thrive on this kind of concept as with no new infusion of blood, so to speak, wouldn't it go dormant and stagnant? And perhaps lead to corruption, especially as people tend to settle into what that with which they are most comfortable?
Overall, I enjoyed the novel, but I did have issues with a couple of things. First of all, I couldn't quite buy into the whole reincarnation thing and be as accepting as the author wanted to present it to the readers. Once I thought through the whole corruption issue, I was faced with another concept that sort of sent my mind reeling, and it was the fact that all of these people had been reincarnated as either sex. It was not the gender thing that bothered me as I was kind of intrigued by this and hoped the author would explore this a bit more, but then I started thinking about parents and siblings and cross-breeding and then I had to stop as it was giving me a headache. If everyone is reincarnated, aren't we getting into some major genetic issues and siblings perhaps marrying siblings issues now? It's now the souls that are just involved here, but the genetic issues too.
I enjoyed meeting the various characters in this novel, but I can certainly say that none of them stood for me as exceptional. While I liked Ana, there were certain aspects to her personality that jarred with me too, something that was...off. For a girl who grew up in the environment that she did, she was certainly too trusting. And I almost felt like the author was trying to play it off by constantly having her talk about her lack of ability to love and have feelings and it bothered me a lot. For a girl who demonstrated a lot of curiosity about what she was learning and wanted to know about who she was, she certainly blew hot and cold with regards to this curiosity. For example, she wanted to know little about the temple that seemed to be at the center of the city and their world whereas I would have wanted to do as much research about something that the dragons seemed to be attacking for over five thousand years to find out why they wanted it so much. I was glad to see some development in her character however, and to see some spark and punch as the novel wore on. Whereas she was quite timid at the beginning, even if she was a little too trusting for someone who was raised as an anomaly, she did grow a few thorns and it was good to see. And Sam. I did like him, but at times I thought he was condescending, and talked like he was lecturing all of the time, kind of like a father to a daughter. Perhaps the romance will even out more in the next novel as Sam comes to see Ana more as who she is rather than as someone who hasn't live for thousands of years.
Incarnate was an interesting utopian novel about the concept of reincarnation and how a nation can stagnate over thousands of years unless new and fresh blood and ideas are brought into it. I did enjoy the novel, but I was not crazy about the ending as I found it rushed and somewhat sloppy in comparison to the rest of the novel, even if it did provide some answers and revelations. I will probably take a look at Asunder, to be released January 29th, 2013, as I am curious as to what will happen to Ana after the denouement of Incarnate and what the repercussions will be.