Monday, January 23, 2012

Review: Incarnate

INCARNATE (New Soul #1)
Jodi Meadows
Young Adult/Dystopian
384 pages
Available January 31st
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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?

Deeply intriguing and beautifully told, Incarnate brings to life a world of fantasy that–for all its differences and its paranormal qualities–manages to highlight an inherent flaw we often don’t like to recognize in ourselves or others when confronted directly with it. Ana, being the only newsoul in a place where the same one million souls have been born again and again for five thousand years, is the epitome of an outcast, and through her eyes we see the disdain, the fear, and the distrust someone who’s different elicits in those who believe they possess the one and only indisputable view of how things should be. Seeing such blatant prejudice portrayed in a way that’s so different from our reality but also so horrifyingly familiar strikes a poignant cord in us as we wish for nothing more than the ability to leap into the pages and assume a supportive position behind, in front of, or beside Ana with the few others who see her as human not anathema.

Ana is a young woman who has our support from page one, her loneliness as visible and as palpable as if she wore it as a cloak about her shoulders and stood in front of us with every vulnerability spelled out on her sleeve, allowing us instant access to the depths of her character with no holds barred. Despite her fear of the unknown, she sets out for Heart with purpose and hope, the horrors of her childhood with an emotionally and physically abusive parent not fully corrupting her faith that not everyone will see her as Li does. At times her suspicions of Sam’s motives and her uncanny ability to read too much into what is said start to irk us, but just as they do we remember that for the past eighteen years her only social contact has been with a woman whose interactions with her have dripped with derision–sharp words wielded as weapons meant to inflict wounds deep enough to scar but shallow enough to ensure she would survive them to endure the torture another day.

Ana’s relationship with Sam is both sorrowful and indescribably wistful at the same time, beginning as a fragile friendship that slowly grows into something greater as trust becomes more than a simple word tossed out to force a tenuous bond, and then quietly transforming into a tangible thing that has been earned with limitless patience and increasing desire. Their actions are never hurried, Ana’s understandable hesitancy to believe the reality of what’s happening between them and Sam’s fear that she’ll continue to misinterpret his feelings for her creating a chasm of space between them emotionally despite there only ever being feet between them physically. Ever-present while reading is an incessant tug in our bellies, a slow twisting that by the end has us thoroughly tangled in knots as tension between the two of them ebbs and flows at the perfect pace to keep us on edge the entire way through.

The only mild complaint is a common one for first books in a series, a great deal of questions and wide open musings plaguing us as we reach the last page, but we are blissfully left without a gut-punching cliffhanger. We definitely want to know more about the few revelations we’re given in the concluding chapters, however, we look forward to the next books with a sense of optimistic curiosity instead of wild desperation, something that will surely make the wait in between books far more bearable.

Rating: 4/5


  1. What a concept! And how lonely it must be for Ana to go through that. It sounds like the author did a really great job portraying loneliness in Ana and the prejudice she faces. I;m looking forward to reading this... but perhaps I'll wait until the sequel is about to come out to avoid the wait in between books.

  2. I'm soooo excited for this book! Glad to hear it's good, thanks for the review. :)

  3. I really enjoyed this one as well. The relationship between Sam and Ana was one of my favorite parts of the book :)

  4. Sounds great. I always like a book where we can identify strongly with the main character. I can usually forgive a first book for open questions, although sometimes it can be too much. Nice not to have a cliff hanger - although I don't mind those as much as most people.

  5. " Seeing such blatant prejudice portrayed in a way that’s so different from our reality but also so horrifyingly familiar strikes a poignant cord in us as we wish for nothing more than the ability to leap into the pages and assume a supportive position behind, in front of, or beside Ana with the few others who see her as human not anathema."

    This is the part of your review that sold it for me. I definitely have seen that prejudice you mention in the real world (though thankfully I have never personally been the subject), and I'm interested in a book that draws this parallel, even if it's not a contemporary book.

    Glad you enjoyed it!

  6. Sometimes I wish I could just copy and paste your reviews, then link back and say, "Jenny says all!!" Your reviews always tell exactly what I'm feeling too in such beautiful writing that they're like mini books on their own! :) <3 I LOVED Incarnate too -- it was such a sweet, original novel with such a cool world! Sylphs and dragons? Definite win! x)

    Amazing review as always, Jenny!! And you're so right about the last part too -- even though it was cliffhanger-free, I'm dying for a chance to read book 2! ;)

  7. Beautiful review! Incarnate sounds like such a great book and I'm so excited to read it! Ana and Sam sounds like amazing characters!!

  8. I'm really glad you liked this one. I wasn't sure if I should add it to my wishlist, but you have me sold. Great review!

  9. I am glad that you loved it. It didn't work for me and as always your reviews are so good.

  10. Aylee - It was a really fascinating concept, especially given the fact the souls can come back as either sex. Made all sorts of interesting questions run through my head!

    Chantaal - I really enjoyed it! I definitely had some questions at the end, but I loved Ana and Sam:)

    Tiffany - Mine too! I adored them together:)

    Alison - I was in love with Ana almost from page one. She had her moments where I wanted to shake her a bit and tell her to trust Sam, but I couldn't blame her in the least for her hesitancy to do so.

    Natalie - Yay! Glad you're going to give it a try. The prejudice was infuriating especially because so few could see the benefits of having a newsoul and a little diversity:(

    Mimi - So glad you loved it too!!! I hope we get more Sylphs and dragons in the next book, I want to know what the deal is with them and the tower:)

    Katie - Thank you! Ana and Sam are wonderful characters, I adored them:)

    Jennifer - WOO HOO! It's a really great read, I found it very easy to relate too despite the world being so different.

    Julie - It definitely won't work for everyone, but thanks for the compliment on the review:)

  11. The fact that it leaves quite a bit open at the end is troubling (I prefer more resolutions, less questions), but otherwise, this sounds great.

    Wonderful review, Jenny! You always write your thoughts in such a lovely, lyrical way.

  12. I must say that the beautiful cover threw me for a loop. I was expecting a fairy or paranormal element to the book but am curiously surprised to find out that it's dystopian. A fresh new angle of dystopian to boot. YAY for a non-cliffhanger ending but enough questions to make us want book 2. I have this one on my Nook waiting to be read. Glad you enjoyed it, Jenny.

  13. The lack of a cliff hanger has me excited, but then when I think about being left with more questions than answers? UGH!!! Although definitely sounds like waiting for the 2nd book will be worth it too!

    This was one that wasn't really on my "TBR" list, I'm not sure why but it just didn't grab me. However, after your review? I think I'll have to reconsider it.

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

  14. I love the premise of this one, and even though I've read a bunch of mixed reviews lately, I'm looking forward to reading it soon! Glad you enjoyed this one, Jenny!

  15. Dystopian for real?? With the whole butterfly eyes I thought it was about, note to self: must read synopsis more often.

    Im going to try this one...someday when the TBR pile whittles down...HAHA...right!

  16. Lea - While there are definitely questions at the end, it doesn't just leave you hanging which is nice. You learn some things and you are just sort of left wanting to know more but not absolutely DYING for that information.

    Rummanah - It definitely looks more like a paranormal or fantasy read, but I'd say it's more dystopian in nature. I found the whole premise really fascinating, and I loved the characters:)

    Jac - Right? You don't get everything tied up in a neat little bow, but you also aren't left staring at the last page screaming NOOOOOOOOO. Hope you give it a try!

    Leanna - I love the books that cause mixed reviews, it's fun to read everyone's differing opinions:) I thought this one was fabulous.

  17. We're review twins today, Jenny! :P

    I'm so glad you enjoyed Incarnate; I loved how creative and beautiful it was! I agree about the unanswered questions bit--it makes waiting for the sequel all the more difficult!

  18. Great review as always :)
    I just love this cover, so colorful, and not very dystopia like, which I like. Though then again many have become colorful these days

  19. The whole concept of this novel just seems to different from any I've read, but then again, there is a familiarity to it as well. I'm not surprised that it's easy to support the odd girl out through her plight. She seems like quite the character, and I usually can't help feeling attached to characters that carry such resolve within them, especially when they are dealing with so much.

    And I love the way you've described the tension that brews between Ana and Sam. Thanks for the lovely review, Jenny. I'm so happy the story matches it's gorgeous cover!

  20. Tina - I can definitely see how you would think faeries! There are fantasy elements to this one (dragons and sylphs) but the world itself felt dystopian to me.

    Lauren - We are! So glad you loved it as much as I did:)

    Linda - I adore the imagery on this cover, so gorgeous! I like the colorful ones:)

    Missie - Exactly. It's familiar and different at the same time which sucked me right into the story. There was no wading my way into this one, I just got yanked right into the deep end:)

  21. I've read some so-so reviews on this one so I haven't decided if I'll read it. I do have to say that your review has me more intrigued now though. I may have to watch for it at the library in the future because it sure sounds like an interesting concept!

  22. I wasn't planning on reading this one since I had read lots of negative reviews on it but it sounds really awesome !! I'm glad you liked it that much and I'm definitely reconsideRing reading Incarnate now !!

    I love Ren too by the way Jenny :) !!! Looking forward to know what you think of Wolfsbane ..

  23. Aww... *tears* I really didn't think this one was for me... But I think this one would be awesome when I need an emotional read!

  24. Awesome review Jenny and so much echoing my own feelings about the novel, slightly more elegantly, but none the less. I was happy for the non cliffhanger ending. I don't feel desperate for the next book though I will surely anticipate it. As always, thanks for the wonderful, insightful, review.


  25. Oh you had me at all that prejudice. I love books that really examine our consciousness and expose those things to us based on someone being different in one way or another... BUT... a cliffie????? NOooooOOOOooo!

  26. This sounds brilliant! I wasn't sure about this one, but your review has completely sold me. Your reviews always do that, Jenny! :)

  27. I'm so glad you liked it. This bodes well for me. This is my next read and I have hopes I'll enjoy it as well. Especially Sam. I'm very excited to meet him and experience their relationship! Yay!

  28. Ngyah, I want to read this book! It's so not fair we have to read all these amazing reviews (and yours is gorgeously written, by the way) and still wait a whole week before we can read Incarnate, too.


  29. Looking forward to delving into this one myself. It is next up in my reading pile. You did a fabulous job describing the relationship. I am happy to hear no dreaded cliffhanger. I can live with a few unresolved questions. Lovely Jenny!

  30. Yay, I'm happy that there's no insta-love situation here and that the relationship progresses slowly because Ana has been abused. Her situation sounds so sad and it seems like the author has done a really good job portraying that. I have this one from NetGalley and wasn't sure whether I wanted to read it, but I'll do my best to get to it now because I really liked the way you described Ana and Sam's relationship. Great review, Jenny :)

  31. Oh I love books that deal with prejudices! I want to see how it all it plays out though I might wait until book 2 is out. I don't deal well with open ended questions---I tend to b*tch about them every chance I get. Ask every one in DFW how many times I have recommended Enclave but then mentioned the door LOL

  32. Jenny, this is one of my favorite books ever. The slow-burn of a relationship between Ana and Sam did tug at my belly and I barely could handle it. And the whole music thing...with Sam. I just...I don't even have the words to describe this story to me. NOT TO MENTION that there is also fantasy involved and this girl loves dragons and swords. It is just an excellent and odd mixture of different genres and technologies and an interesting world...and a city with an actual PULSE?!?!?!

    I am THRILLED that I got to read this one early. I am THRILLED for Jodi Meadows and I am already ridiculously impatient for the rest of the a kid waiting to open birthday presents or something. It's ridiculous. This is a story that I NEED more of and NOW.

    Your thoughts are eloquent and beautiful, as always, Jenny. I love reading them every day!!

  33. I so love your review! You basically said everything I wanted to say as well. Even if it wasn't a cliffhanger, I can't wait for a sequel, when there's definitely a lot of questions still spinning around my head! But oh, I really loved it and the fact that the same souls kept coming back... Yep. It was quite awesome!

  34. Loved the review! I thought it was a great unique story. I'm interested in where she came from.

  35. Another wonderful review, Jenny. You have pretty much expressed my feelings towards this book, too. I'm so happy you enjoyed it! Now the wait for the next book will be an incredibly long and agonizing one. :)

  36. I really, really enjoyed this book as well! I love Sam, he was such a great character. :) So glad to see you enjoyed it as well!

  37. Oh, no! A gut-clenching cliffhanger. Ugh. Not sure if I'm happy about that. lol Can't wait to read it, though! Great review :)