Book Review: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

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?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

My Rating:  2 cupcakes

I put Incarnate on hold months ago so when it finally became available, I couldn’t remember anything about it – aside from the fact that it had a gorgeous cover, of course. So colour me surprise when I finish the book and realize that it actually isn’t about butterfly people; instead, the world of Incarnate involves reincarnation, dragons, and sylphs.

Incarnate is a difficult book to review because it has a utopian setting so there aren’t many bad-but-exciting events. As a result, the majority of the book is spent focusing on the relationship between Ana and Sam, most of which is spent dancing and playing music, instead of searching for clues about her existence as a Newsoul like the synopsis promised. Although it wasn’t a case of instalove, this relationship certainly took over the entire plot and, since I don’t know much about playing an instrument, these scenes were often skimmed over.

Instead of reading about Ana and Sam’s relationship, I would have much rather learned about the world that they were inhabiting. Between the buildings that were already built and waiting for the first people, the fact that their reincarnations aren’t always of the same gender, and the idea of Newsouls in general, there were a lot more questions than there were answers.

Ana, our protagonist, wasn’t the easiest to like. She appeared weak and filled with self-loathing, which makes sense given the abuse she suffered. While I understood where she was coming from, her constant self-doubt and dislike it made her narrations hard to read. Her relationship with Sam (who I was indifferent about) is also very unhealthy – she finds her self-worth because of him, and is incredibly dependent on him for everything.

The saving grace of Incarnate was definitely the writing. Meadows’ writing is melodic and beautiful, and the descriptions are very vivid.

Overall, I wasn’t as impressed with Incarnate as I thought I would be. The idea of reincarnations was promising but poorly executed, mostly due to the prevalence of the romantic plot. I’ll likely read the next book in the series though, if only to have some of my world-building questions answered.

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