Incarnate

Title: Incarnate
Author: Jodi Meadows
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: January 31, 2012
Pages: 374
Genre: Fantasy, utopian
Source: Library
Rating: 3/5

In a society where everyone has been reincarnated time and time again, Ana is a rare being. Ana is a newsoul, someone who has never been reincarnated before. But, many, including her own mother, believe she is in fact a nosoul, an unspeakable monster unworthy of emotions or life. On her eighteenth birthday, Ana sets out to the city of Heart to find out where she came from and what purpose her existence is meant to serve.

What a weird book. Not that that’s a bad quality for a book, especially a young adult book, as in general they tend to be fairly predictable, but again I say, what a weird book. There were a lot of things about this book that I liked and appreciated from an artistic standpoint, but it is not what I usually read; I am generally a contemporary fiction reader, but this book sounded so unique I just had to step out of my comfort zone for it.

Anton Chekhov, a great Russian playwright, once said that a person does not put a gun on the mantlepiece unless he intends to use it. This quote, however, was really about writing, and how a writer doesn’t introduce different elements unless he plans on using them later in the story. In today’s young adult literature, I see authors trying to do this, but the elements introduced are always used in very predictable ways. I do not often come across a book whose plot “twists” I can’t guess, so this book was very unusual in that way.

Another thing I liked about the story was its unusual subject matter: reincarnation. I had never read a young adult book covering this topic, and Meadows certainly handled it with grace. Ana’s feelings about being a new/nosoul and her guilt about replacing someone who had lived a thousand times over all seemed very real and believable. I appreciated that Meadows took time to get Ana to trust Sam, since, based on her experiences with Li, having her suddenly fall in love, as some writers do, wouldn’t have been as believable. Meadows’ pacing made the story more meaningful and emotional.

All in all, though it was not my personal taste, I hope that Jodi Meadows’ promising debut is a foreshadow to even better books to come. Kudos, Jodi.

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