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I Belong


Review: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Title: Incarnate

Author: Jodi Meadows

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Newsoul (Book 1)

Publication Date: January 31, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 384 OPages

ISBN-10: 0062060759 (Harper Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062060754 (Harper Teen)

Reviewed by: Emmy

Synopsis:

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

Quick & Dirty: This debut does a brilliant job of spinning a fantastical world into a strong story about relationships and self-worth.  A page-turner that’s definitely worth picking up!

Opening SentenceWhat is a soul, but a consciousness born and born again?

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

The real star of this book is not Ana or Sam or even the awesome dragons Meadows has populated the world with.  Really, it’s the world itself that took my breath away.  She’s managed to put so many intricate elements into Range, that it’s the easiest thing to read about.  One of the biggest things that stood out to me was the history of the souls and their world.  When Ana first meets Sam he takes her to his house, which is directly next to a cemetery filled with his past bodies.  The image filled me with a feeling of inescapability in Range.  The souls might be reincarnated, but they’re also trapped–though they don’t see it that way.

Then there’s Heart, the city of souls in the range.  One day the souls just found it there, waiting for them to live in.  The walls are made of a stone that pulses with a heartbeat, which sends chills through Ana but no one else finds disturbing.  Most disturbing to her is the temple in the center of the city.  A long tube of white stone to tall it disappears into the sky. When Ciana died, the temple had turned black.  Though the souls in Heart know the temple is hollow, they don’t find that disturbing either.  They know the temple has to do with Janan, their creator. Though he has abandoned the souls for five thousand years, many still believe in him.  In Heart Ana finds both new friends and experiences, but also anger.  After all, she took Ciana’s place in the world.  The other souls are scared that they could be next, and they turn their fear into hate.  The Council might have people who hate her, but there are others who want to give her a chance. So Ana finds herself learning skills, history, and about herself as she tries to discover the meaning of her existence in the library. Quickly, it becomes apparent she’s not the only one who’s researching the nosoul.

Nosoul is a subjective term.  One attributed to Ana for as long as she can remember by her mother Li.  Li was both abusive and neglectful.  She moved Ana to Purple Rose Cottage after she was born, to hide her shame from the people of Heart.  Her husband, Menehem, fled the Range in disgrace.  But Sam prefers Ana be called a newsoul. He doesn’t see her as someone incapable of love, but rather someone who’s inexperienced at life.  After some mutual rescues, Sam takes Ana in and eventually to Heart, encouraging her out of her cocoon of self-hatred.

Sam might have saved her, but it’s going to take more than a few weeks to make Ana trust him.  After all, he’s known these other souls for thousands of years.  His alliance might be with her now, but he has bonds within the community he can’t break, not even for her. But Sam stands up for her with the Council, against other prejudiced souls, and you love him for his patience and kindness towards Ana.  The way their relationship moves from friendship into a romance was perfect.  While it might be one of the most important relationships Ana makes (at least to me!) it’s not the only one.  Other souls take Ana under their wing too.  Ana learns things we take for granted, which was both character building and fun to read.

I love this debut because it has a gorgeous world and a strong, evolving heroine.  Ana doesn’t know if she’ll be reincarnated, so she lives her life as if it’s her only one.  She might be impulsive, but then to me Sam seemed to be too slow.  This book had a complete plot arc, something I always appreciate in the first installment of a new series, but I still can’t wait for the rest of the books! The sylphs and dragons were fantastic, but I’m really excited to see what else Meadows has up her metaphorical sleeve.

Notable Scene:

“Was she terrible?” I asked from where I sat on the chair with the SED.  Now it played a piano song with a strange, bouncy rhythm.

He dropped the bag of supplies on the counter with a clatter of pills and thunk of glass. “She wasn’t there, but the door was unlocked.”

“So you just took things?” That idea made me smile.

“You need them.”  He frowned toward the stove, in spite of our good fortune.  Li wasn’t there.  She wouldn’t come after me.  He should have been relieved, but he just looked pensive. “I wonder where she went.”

“Maybe she went to fight dragons and they ate her.”

The Newsoul Series:

1. Incarnate

FTC Advisory: Harper Teen provided me with a copy of Incarnate.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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