Release Date: 01/31/2012
(Thanks to ATWT for allowing me to participate in this tour!)
Published by: Katherine Tegen
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 suspicious and 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.
This is the best book written by a debut author that I've read so far for 2012 publication.
1. (+) Ana, the protagonist - Ana could detract some readers, could seem a bit whiny and cliche, but it takes the skill of a writer like Jodi Meadows to overcome both issues. Ana has been abused by her mother Li and this comes out in her voice -- it comes out in the way she is cynical, defensive, and unwilling to trust others easily (though when she does, she trusts them wholeheartedly, given how passionate she is). But it also comes out in her strength. The way she is self-reliant and breaks away from her past. The way she doesn't complain but moves on and forges her own life, separate from her mother, and learns more about herself. The way she stands up to Sam and others. Ana was easy to empathize with, and I rooted for her the whole way through. (Watch out for her in the next YA Sisterhood Winter Strong Heroine contest ;P).
2. (+) The World-building - I loved the fantasy world so, so much. I love how this book stands out with its utopian society and how that actually makes sense for the story. I loved the creepiness and the mystery behind the Temple and the heartbeat of Heart's walls. I loved the role that a superpower plays and the range of opinions people have about their own society--it made it feel real. I loved the history behind Heart and how Ana changes the stakes for everyone... I loved everything and cannot wait to learn more.
3. (+) The Romance - It's not an easy task to make a 5,000 year old teenager seem appealing, but Jodi Meadows succeeds. I think a great deal of the success is because Jodi Meadows has the characters talk about their age difference-- so many authors leave that alone and just assume that such a relationship is normal or that the characters wouldn't feel the gap between them... but Ms. Meadows addresses this head on, and in fact, I think the age difference even adds to the romance. Ana is new, fierce, passionate--in a society where Sam has known everyone for 5,000 years, of course he'd fall for Ana... and of course Ana would fall for Sam-- he takes care of her, listens to her, teaches her (and in a way is her mentor and idol), and accepts her in a society that damns her for what she is. They have fights and there is a lot of tension, but all that adds to the complexity and sweetness when it gets resolved. I loved the romance so much that I couldn't get the masquerade scene out of my head for days.
4. (+) Character & Plot Book - In my other reviews, I've been ranting about how some books have too much inner character conflict while still trying to advance the plot--- and how that often makes both lacking (in my opinion)... but Incarnate is not one of those books. It has the perfect balance. Sam helps Ana accept herself and her place in their society while still investigating what brought her to them. And the book would not be as enjoyable without one or the other.
5. (+) Masquerade Scene - Did I mention how sexy and seductive the masquerade scene is? Yeah? Well, I'm mentioning it again because it is THAT good.
6. (+) Unpredictability - There are obvious villains, and then not so obvious ones.... and boy was I surprised by the explanation of Ana's existence (though note: not disappointed; it was appropriate for the novel). Certain details about the world will come back in unexpected ways. (It's too bad the book hasn't been released yet 'cause then I could say that I'm counting down the days for sequel...)
7. (+/-) The Beginning - Though I really loved this book, I did think it started a tad slow. The synopsis seems to hint that a good deal of the action will occur in Heart, and that is true, but it takes Ana a while to get there. Of course the time spent outside of Heart is essential, but those looking for a quick start to the story should be wary.
8. (+) The Writing - Strong and sensual. In that way, it sort of reminds me of Andrea Cremer's writing--neither are what you'd typically call poetic but they suck you in and leave you reeling for more. I loved all of the descriptions of music and could picture the way Heart looked.
9. (+) Pacing - I think the pacing worked for me because I was so far gone with this book that I didn't really care if I thought something was slow... but I will say, as I somewhat mentioned earlier, that Incarnate is not something you should read quickly; it is meant to be savored. It's not as slow as something like The Scorpio Races but it's not as fast as say, Hex Hall or one of the many paranormal romance books.
10. (+) The Cover - Not only is it beautiful but it also is greatly symbolic of Ana's struggles throughout the book. The image of the butterfly is repeatedly mentioned and it decorates the beginning of each chapter.
Beautiful, beautiful book. This is definitely going on my favorites list for 2012, and you should definitely mark your calendar for the 31st. I wholly recommend Incarnate.