Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Jodi Meadows
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
For thousands of years the souls of Range have been reincarnated, keeping all memories and experiences from their past lives. When Ana is born, an old soul inexplicably disappears. Ana is a NewSoul; a completely new person who has never lived before. Rejected by her parents, Ana decides to travel to the city of Heart, the hub of life in Range. But her journey is difficult, and she is rescued from the sylph, strange monsters that burn and destroy, by Sam, a soul that doesn’t treat her with hatred. Sam and Ana become closer as they travel to Heart together. Although the citizens treat her with suspicion, the Council of Heart agrees to let her stay as long as she is watched and educated in their ways. Ana makes new friends and learns the history of Heart, but finds herself fighting against her mother and a corrupt Council member. When everything comes to a head during a dragon attack on Heart, Ana finally meets her father and learns that it was his experiments that caused the phenomenon of her birth. In the middle of the attack he recreates his experiment, and Ana is left to save as many souls from permanent death as she can, including Sam, whom she has grown to love. Many still die, but Ana and Sam are determined to uncover the secrets of her father’s experiments and learn the true purpose of their existence.
Incarnate has a very fresh story: a mysterious world in which the same people are born over and over for thousands of years that is one day changed by the appearance of a new person. Jodi Meadows impresses with her ability to create a completely new world, but not overload the reader with heavy exposition. Instead, you are dropped in the middle of Ana’s story and you learn about this world through her eyes. Overall it’s fairly simple, but the undertones of mystery are present throughout the book. While you never feel overwhelmed with new information, the desire to discover the answers to Ana’s questions and your own is strong. Many answers are not yet given in this book, but will likely be answered in the following two books. Romance is a heavy theme throughout the book as Sam and Ana become closer, and while there are light sexual themes, it never veers into the inappropriate. Incarnate is well-paced and never lingers longer than it should, but keeps the story moving and interesting. It also helps that Meadow’s characters have depth and are more than cardboard cutouts fulfilling a single purpose. Most of the characters have thousands of years of personal history, and you can feel that in their interactions. Incarnate is not high fantasy, the story and writing is simple enough for younger readers, and Meadows doesn’t talk down to her audience. She gives them a magical world to explore and characters to fall in love with. She tells a great story and leaves enough questions unanswered that continuing the series is a must.
*Contains mild sexual themes and mild violence