Title: Incarnate (Newsoul #1) by Jodi MeadowsOne of the main reasons I decided to pick up Incarnate was because I had heard about its extraordinary world-building. I’ve been immersed plenty of times in fantastical backdrops but Incarnate features by far one of the most imaginative settings I’ve ever come across. Meadows has constructed a captivating realm that not only makes reincarnation feel believable, but one that will make you question everything you know about life, love and even death. In many ways, this book is different than a lot of other Young Adult fiction. Yes, there is a romance, and a great one, but Incarnate is also very much a high-fantasy story. Not only do we have a lush and unique world, but we have dragons, terrifying creatures known as Sylphs, and danger lurking around every corner.
Page count: 374
Published on: January 31st, 2012
Goodreads rating: 3.82
Buy via: Amazon│Barnes & Noble│Book Depository
5/5 Crystal Balls, Highest Priority
Summary: 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? Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life
From the moment I flipped open the book, my heart immediately went out to Ana. She grew up emotionally and physically abused by her Mother Li, was constantly told she was nothing, and that she did not have the capacity to love. While Ana is obviously damaged from this, it’s clear, it didn't break her completely. It’s not only made her stronger, as she is determined to take control of her life, but Ana has retained a sense of innocence that makes her character so very rootable. I truly cared about her from the beginning, as if she was a close friend or family member. From the very start, I yearned to see Ana break free from the notion that she is nothing, a nosoul. From the simple act of experiencing the taste of honey, to being able to relish in the sound of music, to experiencing her first kiss, I smiled every time she was able to be free to enjoy herself, without questioning it. Whether or not she's lived as long as everyone else, she has the right to experience life all the same.
I honestly have never seen a book cover so true to the spirit of the character. Ana, at the beginning of the book, was very much a caterpillar, and as we watch her journey through the book, we watch her blossom into a gorgeous butterfly, and really, experience life for the first time. One of my favorite things about this book is that everyone in a way can relate to Ana. Obviously, none of us have been born into a world with people who have lived for thousands of years, no. Everyone though, in some sense, has struggled on the way to discovering their self-worth as a person, has contemplated on what their place is in the world is, and how they fit in. Many times in our life, we meet people who we feel are prettier, smarter, and just plain better than us. Sometimes, it’s so hard not to feel un-worthy. We think, ‘well, maybe if I could just go and do this over, live my life again, I'll get this right, or I'll make better decisions if I could just have one more chance’. Incarnate shows us this very possibility. If someone were to ask me before I read this book, ‘if you could start your life all over again, knowing what you know now, would you’, I would have said yes without a moment’s hesitation, but now? The surprisingly thing is, I’m not so sure.
Incarnate raises some serious, thoughtful questions. If we could live our lives again and again, with our memories intact with every lifetime, what would that mean? Would the same things matter anymore? Would death hold less power, because you know you’re going to come back, and it doesn’t matter losing one life, when you have an endless supply? Or would it hold more power, because with every life we have, it gets more and more painful to die, knowing we have to endure the same mistakes over and over again, in a never-ending cycle? I think there are no easy answers to these questions, and maybe that’s the point.
Whether you live for 75 years or 5,0000, time is precious, because you never know when and if you’re time is going to run out. You may think you have forever, but what happens if one day, you don’t? This is why you must make the most of the life you have, in this moment, right now.
Incarnate not only gives us high-fantasy fun, but it provides readers with a deep and satisfying romance. When Sam saves Ana's life early in the book, we could have had a case of the dreaded insta-love. However, we get a love story full of emotion and longing as we watch these two characters get to know each other, learn from each other, and mutually support each other. It’s odd to think Sam has lived so many lives, that Ana is literally brand new compared to him, but Meadows depicts their relationship in such a genuine way, it just feels right. The buildup between them throughout the book is thoroughly wonderful and the payoff is even more incredible. Not only is this book filled with sweet and tender moments between Ana and Sam, but they are achingly romantic and passionate in a way that took my breath away.
Ultimately, Meadows has given readers a thoughtful, heart-stirring tale that will not only enrapture you, but challenge your beliefs. I'm so thrilled I gave this one a shot, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. The sequel isn’t due out till early next year, so there is still plenty of time to discover the beauty that is Incarnate!