Review: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Book: Incarnate
Author: Jodi Meadows
Publisher: Katherine Tegen
Release date: January 31, 2012
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Series: Newsoul #1

Summary from Goodreads: NEWSOUL
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 Anaâ??s own mother thinks sheâ??s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether sheâ??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 Anaâ??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 Anaâ??s enemiesâ??human and creature alikeâ??let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone elseâ??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.

First impressions: Without a doubt, the concept of this book had me sold from the beginning. Ana’s status as a newsoul, within this well-visioned fantasy society of recycled souls, was intriguing and captivating. I loved setting out on this journey to discover the secrets of why she is different in a world where everything is the same.

Lasting impressions: Ana and Sam were interesting characters, but the real standout here is the world where their story takes place.

Conflicting impressions: The book didn’t have enough answers for my taste. We spend the majority of the book waiting for Ana to buckle down and search for the reasons for her newsoul-ness, only to have them explained in the blink of an eye amidst too much other action. The last third of the novel threw way too much new information at me during a flurry of major events.

Overall impressions: Vexing. That’s what this novel was to me. The beginning is beautiful, brilliant, exciting, and full of so much promise! I was rooting for this book. So when the ending fell flat for me, I wanted to scream and smash things. Consider me thoroughly vexed.

At first, the mysteries of the book completely captivated me. Ana is the first completely new person, and we as readers are as desperate to find out why as she is. Ana has led a somewhat sheltered life, interacting only with her abusive mother, so when she sets out on her journey there is a lot she doesn’t understand. I loved being a part of her discovery of her world.

Secrets are everywhere, and the tension arising from this fact is delicious. Ana doesn’t know who to trust, and neither do we. Everyone seems to be hiding something, particularly Sam, and part of the fun of the novel is trying to ferret out the truth from the clues given. I felt there were lots of times when I was picking up on things that Ana’s past couldn’t let her see, and it was a really enjoyable reading experience.

That led to an even bigger disappointment, however, when so few of these hints and clues amounted to anything. Ana never calls anyone out on their sketchy behavior. She never notices the small things that seem so obvious to the reader. Worst of all, things that we are led to believe are significant turn out not to be. For instance, Sam in his past lives has constantly been targeted by the dragons that periodically attack town, and he wonders if that’s true or just his imagination or coincidence, but we never find out. The idea is simply dropped. Similarly, Ana has a unique and strange reaction to the pulsing walls that surround the city of Heart and make up the sacred temple, and this is likewise never explored but instead left to dangle like an errant thread.

I kept waiting for that “a-ha!” moment when answers would be revealed and Ana would have some peace, but it never came. I feel cheated out of a whole, complete novel, and wish things would have wrapped up in a way to give us some more answers before plunging on into the next book. It’s a shame that I’m not looking forward to the next installment in this series, because it truly started out in all the right ways.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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