Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Review: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Title:  Incarnate
Author:  Jodi Meadows
Genre:  YA Fantasy
Pages:  374

Rating:  C-

Synopsis from  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?

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Incarnate by Jodi Meadows was so disappointing.  I had first noticed it because of the gorgeous cover art, and while the concept didn't seem like something I'd normally like, I decided to give it a chance anyway.

Where to begin?  First, the book description is completely misleading.  From the way it's described, I expected to find something similar to the Salem witch trials.  "Its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?"  I did not see this at all.  Two or three people grumbled about having Ana around, but that was it.  And this dragon/sylph attack doesn't happen until the very end of the book, so it doesn't even play much of a part in the story development at all.

Second, the whole book from beginning to end is mostly about Sam and Ana's relationship.  Ana barely spends any time trying to find out who she is or how she happened.  Mostly she's just trying to spend as much time with Sam as she can, while simultaneously pushing him away to keep from getting hurt.  Make up your mind!  Do you want to be with him or not?  I could say the same thing to Sam as well.  He kept seeming to be torn between wanting her and keeping her at a distance.  By the time I was three-quarters of the way through the book, I was practically screaming "Just kiss already!"  I mean, I don't approve of insta-love, but sometimes the complete opposite can be ridiculous.  And then when they finally do get together, Ana keeps doubting the relationship and herself.  Seriously, apart from the whole keeping-his-distance-while-he-figures-things-out thing, Sam is perfect (a little too perfect, honestly), and he treats her from the very beginning like she's the most amazing thing that ever happened too him.  What more does Ana want?  Does he need to jump in front of a dragon to prove his love is real?

Third (and final) point -  While the book's main focus rarely touched on the religion of Heart, it still had its very anti-religious moments.  Throughout the first half of the book, all mentions of the god of Meadow's world, Janan, are neutral.  Some people believe; others don't.  Typical of all societies.  But then, the further I got in the book, the less neutral things became.  The people who devoutly believe in Janan are seen as crazy fanatics who need to be patronized by those around him.  Those who don't believe are often portrayed as smarter, more level-headed, and normal.  Perhaps Meadows did not mean for her book to seem so anti-religious/God/faith, maybe she wasn't trying to make a statement about God at all, but that's how I interpreted it.  Honestly, it made me a little uncomfortable, just as a somewhat preachy pro-God/religion book would make a non-believer uncomfortable.

Between the lack of action, the ridiculously slow & annoying relationship development, and the possible anti-God sentiments, I really didn't enjoy Incarnate the way I'd wanted to.  And I won't be picking up the sequel any time soon.  C-

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