Friday, July 6, 2012

Mixed Incarnation

If your soul came back time and time again, what would you do with each new lifetime? Would you use it to advance your recurring memories and explore new things, or find yourself a comfortable living to just get by? In Jodi Meadows' Incarnate, a new soul is born into a society where everyone has been reincarnated with centuries of memories. If you have ever felt alone, you cannot imagine being the only NewSoul in a world full of very old souls.

When Ana was born, a returning soul was extinguished. Although Ana had nothing to do with that, she has been blamed and ostracized all her life for being a NewSoul. Life with her "mother" is so bad, Ana decides to set off for the city, Heart, in order to find some answers about how she came into existence. She knows the dangers involved in her trek, but life under Li is so intolerable, it is worth the risk. Not far from Li's home, though, she is attacked by Sylph and forced to fall into icy waters to escape. Without the coincidental meeting with a young man named Sam, Ana would be gone.

Sam saves Ana and takes her to Heart himself, but there is more than just charity in the back of his mind. He is intrigued by Ana and wants to know more about her. But once they arrive in Heart, it is very clear that not everyone is intrigued by the NewSoul. Ana is left with Sam as her guardian and forced to educate herself as much as possible about their world. She is eager to learn everything she can, but in her academic travels, Ana finds more and more things that can't be explained. But every question has to have an answer, right?

I am sad to say I struggled with this story a bit. Talk about one heck of a premise, but then you kill it with little world building (despite hints at such a cool world that I craved more detail about it) and a focus on the awkwardness of the two main characters. Here was a world full of reincarnated souls, dragons, Sylph, centaurs, trolls, etc. and I barely saw any of them. Instead the book centered around the strange relationship between Ana and Sam that could have been more effective in a neutral, modern world where I didn't crave setting description and knowledge. If Meadows wanted a romance, she should have just written a romance, not thought up this amazing world only to ignore it for 90% of the story. Although, I was happy to have romance that didn't involve a darned love triangle! But still, it seemed counterproductive to have such a dynamic world that was barely touched upon. I have to say it ruined my perception of the book quite a bit.

I think I will most likely read the second book just to see if things improve in the series, but I am not expecting much based on this book. I hope Meadows does more with the world around Sam and Ana and leaves their awkward glances and misunderstood advances behind. This is appropriate for junior high to high school students, most likely the female demographic because of the heavy focus on romance (unless you have that rare young man who openly admits to liking romance!). I think this story has a lot of potential, and a stellar sequel could fix my perception, but as it stands, I wasn't over the moon for this story. 

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