Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (January 31, 2012)
Series: Newsoul #1
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Cover: Harper has been doing an amazing job with covers lately because this cover is gorgeous. This cover begs to be taken off the shelf and devoured. The beautiful colors melting into the butterfly mask that match her soft pink lips demands attention. I'm so in love!
First Sentence: What is a soul, but a consciousness born again and again?
Mini-Review: Incarnate is the perfect start to what promises to be an exciting fantasy series.
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?
Like a butterfly, Incarnate transforms itself into a vibrant and unique fantasy with incredible characters, complex relationships and a plot that keeps churning until the very end. Sparkling descriptions made it easy to step into this animated world and Ana's bold nature and intelligence were a pleasure to read. Though this debut is filled with the image of a butterfly, a butterfly it is not. Because I guarantee that unlike a butterfly's fleeting life, Incarnate will last.
I'm hard on fantasy in the YA genre. I grew up reading fantasies before YA and am very familiar with the genre. So I'm generally very cautious about reading them because I tend to judge them a little more harshly. I didn't know Incarnate was a fantasy when I began reading it but by page 10, I was entranced by Ana's world. The author does an incredible job of setting up different creatures, re-creating fantasy favorites and give us a vibrant descriptions of what Heart looks like. I could picture the bustling market place and the tall, imposing temple and I wanted to be there.
One of my favorite things about this novel was Ana. She's everything I want my heroines to be. Coming from an abusive situation, she is quick to doubt herself and very distrusting but I'm not sure I would have believed anything else. I also feel like her un-trusting nature is one of the things that made her point of view unique and anyone else would have seen the world very differently. Ana was also really intelligent. Not only can she pick up on things quickly but she isn't going and getting herself into silly situations for the plot's sake. I feel like as readers, this is one of our biggest pet peeves, and it was almost as if the author was acknowledging that with a slight nod our way. For instance, Ana says when she is getting followed "Going after someone unknown in the dark and cold and almost-snow--that wasn't brave. That was exceedingly stupid." (Pg. 205) There have been so many times I've yelled at a character not to go after that noise when they know their life is in danger. I'm glad Ana recognizes this. What made Ana so well rounded and really sparkle was her devotion and admiration of music. Her intense love for song and melody and her passion for learning it were some of my favorite passages in the book.
Sam was the perfect counterpart. Where Ana was passionate and impulsive, Sam was patient and cautious. Only someone with as much patience as Sam could endure Ana's many relapses into not trusting anyone and still want to help her. Also, Sam's love of creating music clicked with Ana and I felt that through this, a deeply satisfying connection was formed. I fell in love with this slow burn that is Ana and Sam's relationship. Watching them get to know each other and seeing how after so many lives, Sam is still able to be surprised is really delightful. I really felt like I was watching these two grow to understand each other and build something solid and strong. Like both the characters, there were multiple layers to their relationship that I loved because I saw each one formed.
I did find a little disconnect sometimes with Ana's reaction to what someone did or said. I couldn't always understand why she would get mad or frustrated. I suppose this had to do with her background but I couldn't always see it. It wasn't enough to really bother me but it's worth mentioning. Meadows' writing is flawless. I was particularly impressed with the brilliant descriptions, the creativity in building a new culture and creatures and the passages that describe music. Seriously, I wanted to hold each of those gorgeous music passages near me forever because they were candy for the eyes. I also want to mention that the questions raised in this novel about how one person can make a difference with just one life when the other people have been reincarnated millions of times made for a complex plot and gave the main character a wonderful chance to blossom and grow as a character.
Combining a bright new fantastic world with complex characters, Incarnate makes one stunning debut. The pages fly by as you fall deeper into Ana's quest to matter within the little time she is given. Incarnate is the perfect start to what promises to be an exciting fantasy series.
"You won't have me." I spun and leaped off the cliff. Death would be fast and cold; I wouldn't feel a thing.--Pg, 13 of an ARC of "Incarnate" by Jodi Meadows
Every breath I took should have belonged to someone whom everyone had known for five thousand years. The guilt was crushing.--Pg, 22 of an ARC of "Incarnate" by Jodi Meadows
As the day warmed, snow melted off solemn statue faces like tears.--Pg, 48 of an ARC of "Incarnate" by Jodi Meadows
I closed my eyes during a flute solo, wishing I could wrap the silvery sound around me, like armor.--Pg, 62 of an ARC of "Incarnate" by Jodi Meadows
I felt like a fool for having believed Li's lie about sylph burns never healing. Soon, I'd be well enough to hurl rocks at her if I ever ran into her again.--Pg, 85 of an ARC of "Incarnate" by Jodi Meadows
I'd never heard this music before. There seemed no room to breathe around my swollen heart as the music grew, made me ache inside.--Pg, 102 of an ARC of "Incarnate" by Jodi Meadows
Apparently Sam wasn't happy if he wasn't sneaking up on me. How unfulfilling his hundred previous lives must have been.--Pg, 109 of an ARC of "Incarnate" by Jodi Meadows
"If I only get one life, I don't want to waste it by hesitating."--Pg, 122 of an ARC of "Incarnate" by Jodi Meadows
I wasn't surprised when it worked, only that my hands did it. Stabbed by rose thorns, frozen, burned--and yet they still made music.--Pg, 172 of an ARC of "Incarnate" by Jodi Meadow
"There attached to the dress. It was the only way I could get them to stay./ He squeezed my hand, tone mischievous. "In that case, I'd be especially happy to carry the wings."--Pg, 270 of an ARC of "Incarnate" by Jodi Meadows
Check out INCARNATE's Happily Ever Ending for an ending summary so you are ready for book 2!