Incarnate (Newsoul #1)
By Jodi Meadows
Summary: New soul
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.
Source: I purchased a kindle copy.
I’ve had Incarnate on my Kindle for an eternity. I picked it up during one of those 1.99 or 2.99 deals and never looked at it again. I finally thought about it when searching for books to fit the Romance Set in the Future category of the 2016 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. It doesn’t really fit, but I was already reading it, so at least I knocked off a book from my ever growing TBR list, right?
Incarnate was set in a place known as the Range where a finite number of people had always been there. From the beginning of time, when Janna (God) created them, they moved into Heart and settled. Those same souls were reincarnated every time they died and held memories of their previous lives. For 5000 years, these souls existed and came back with each new birth after a death. Until Ana, a Newsoul, who replaced the soul of Ciana after she died, apparently for the final time. Ana was ostracized in her community. Her father left, perhaps out of cowardice, perhaps to do research because that was how he was. Her mother was a warrior and she was awful to Ana, but raised her for 18 years nonetheless. To Li, her mother, Ana was not just a Newsoul but a Nosoul. She shouldn’t love or feel or anything substantial because that is what souls do. Essentially, it seemed like the bodies, appearances, and what not changed with each reincarnation, but their personalities never did. They held onto the traits that drove them and the emotions like love. Therefore, if those things were connected to their soul, Li didn’t believe Ana could feel them.
Ana left her cottage and ventured to the city center, Heart, to visit the library and learn more about who she was. She encountered a monster, what the people called Sylphs, and dove into a freezing lake where she was later saved by Sam. He befriended her and they had a connection.
I was intrigued by the whole premise. It was certainly interesting. It seemed like the society had a ton of modern technology as each generation was able to work on their individual projects and grow them, evolving society. But monsters and dragons existed and plagued Heart often. I really enjoyed the whole idea and I love that the author created such a situation for these people. I wished for more world building other than the beginning sort of explanation, so I felt a little lost trying to picture a modern society that doesn’t actually grow.
I enjoyed Incarnate, but it fell short of my expectations about halfway through as I realized it didn’t live up to its potential. The book had the potential to explore so many themes, the biggest one being the issue of squandering your life because you know you will come back after your death. Ana only had one life and she appeared to be more impulsive. She was proving society wrong by teaching herself things like reading and music without having already known about those things. She had the capacity to learn in a way that the others did not expect with her being so young. It was an issue that could have been explored better. It seemed as if she was onto something with the walls pulsing and the dragons being attracted to the pulses, but the connection was never really made. The fact that Janna, their creator, supposedly existed and abandoned them and the death of a soul being punishment wasn’t even full explored. Ana’s father had a ton of research about souls and expressed his accidental discovery of how to bring a Newsoul into the world, but it was one of those quick things at the end. It didn’t even explore the social aspects of being around the same people over and over and over and over again. It seemed as if people trusted each other, but I don’t know that that’s how it would work. If you always have the same people over and over, I felt like there’d be more distrust and feelings of betrayal. How do you work out relationships when your mom in one life could be your lover in another life? I almost think it would have worked better if the population was simply immortal and Ana was the first newcomer or something. Also, if people have been around for 5000 years, why have they never figured out why dragons were so drawn to Heart and how to prevent/fight back? Why hasn’t anyone explored better options?
Basically, Incarnate was about Sam and Ana and them falling in love while the world broke around them. Ana was a threat to a way of life. For someone as old as he was, Sam seemed to not understand what has happening and the two of them were just incredibly naive. Their love story was just so.. Strange.
I really liked the premise and I even liked the connection between Sam and Ana, but I just feel like the story didn’t head in the directions I wanted it to and didn’t go as deep into such a unique situation as I expected. I liked the book and would still recommend it, but I’d have to caution that it’s more of a YA romance than anything else, despite the cool and original ideas presented. It was a good read, but I’m more frustrated by the direction and lack of exploration of the themes and less interested in what happens next, so I won’t be continuing the series.