Book Review: Incarnate
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. No soul. 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? Heart. 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?
All I can say is – DRIVE ME TO DRINK STRONG BEVERAGE!! This book was sadly a bit of a disappointment. The thing that makes me want to cry is the fact that this book held so much potential. It truly had the makings of a fantastically, epic novel. Unfortunately, Jodi Meadows is a weak writer. You have no clue how much I wish I could break this story down for you bit by bit and elaborate on why it failed on so many levels. But, of course, that would result in me spoiling everything for you. Therefore, let me just say this: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows will leave you confused and with a lot of unanswered questions.
The one thing that tears me up inside the most is the fact that initially I was thoroughly enjoying this book. It was exciting, suspenseful, heart-pounding, and full of action and adventure. At the age of 18, Ana finally decides to seek the answers to the questions she’s held in her heart all her life. Where she came from, why she’s here, and why she replaced Ciana when she died. Tired of living with an unscrupulous mother, Ana leaves behind everything she’s ever known and sets out for the city of Heart. Along the way, Ana gets into some serious trouble but is saved by a mysterious man named Sam. Sam decides to escort Ana to Heart and to help her find the answers she’s looking for.
The concept is fascinating and I imagine Meadows initially builds a lot of excitement in her readers. They want the answers to Ana’s questions just as badly as she does. Unfortunately, when the time comes to deliver, Meadows falls short. I feel as if I’ve been given a decadent piece of cake only to take my first bite and discover it’s contaminated with nuts! I was so looking forward to that cake…and now I have no choice but to go home empty-handed. I truly wish I could give you details as a means of justification for my brutality but the only thing I can say is Meadows’ attempts at explaining why things are the way they are fall flat and don’t make sense. She clearly expects her readers to take things at face value and not question the why’s and how’s. Incarnate is a book that has far too many questions with no answers.
Oh Sam, Sam, Sam, Sam, Sam…You wonderful man you. I’m pretty sure in one of Sam’s former lives his name was Johnny Lingo. Sam is the type of person who would pay eight cows for a woman whom everyone believes is not even worth one. He is one of the sweetest fictional characters I’ve ever come across. He is caring, considerate, loving, and passionate. When everyone around Ana thinks she’s worthless, Sam believes she is worthwhile, entitled, and just as deserving as anyone else. Sam’s goal is to make Ana see that, regardless of what she has been brainwashed to believe, she has the privilege and the potential to become anyone she wants to be. A very worthy lesson we can all take to heart.
It was difficult for me to connect with Ana because, let’s face it; I have a loving family and friends, whereas she does not. For 18 years she has been treated like a bug to be crushed. Many times she has emotional breakdowns and throws a bit of a hissy fit. I tried my best to sympathize and see the world through her eyes so I may understand the reasoning behind her tantrums but in all honestly she just came off as a bit childish to me. But you’ve got to admire her courage, strength, and fortitude to attempt to let go of the past and start building a more promising future for herself.
Once again, a wicked storm cloud of pure confusion has befallen upon my brain. From beginning to end I was fasting and praying for some sort of clarification regarding this world Meadows had created. Am I reading a fantasy novel or a Sci-fi? Am I reading about planet Earth or a different planet entirely? For the love of all that is good and holy what year is it!? The people of Range utilize a lot of gizmos, gadgets, and advanced technology which leads me to assume I’m reading a Sci-fi novel. But then I am led to assume I am reading a fantasy when the setting consists of people living in small cottages and battling dragons, trolls, giants, and sylphs on a daily basis. Good gravy Batman I felt I was reading Tolkien! Oh and don’t forget the modern twist when some of Sam’s and Ana’s belongings consist of flashlights, tents, and sleeping bags.
Okay. Let’s just assume Meadows has created an entirely new world. First, let me just say I commend her for her efforts and for taking risks. However, I must shake my fist at her for hitting the ball out of the park but saying ‘screw it!’ to running around the bases. Allow me to clarify by providing one of MANY examples. Sam just happens to be a very famous musician. In one scene, he is explaining to Ana how he first discovered music. He explained how he learned that if you bend string and rub it together it creates sound. So essentially, Sam is the creator of musical instruments. Sure, I’ll accept that. But here’s the kicker. Why is it, if this is an entirely different world, that all these musical inventions have the exact same names as they do on Earth? A piano is still a piano, a flute still a flute, Violin still a violin etc. Yeah, ya know what? Don’t cheat like that. If you’re going to take the risk of creating your own world you have to go all the way. Don’t insult my intelligence by spitting in my face and telling me it’s raining.
Initially, the pacing was perfect. As previously stated, at the beginning the book was exciting, suspenseful, and adventurous. I started this book Saturday night and I was convinced I was going to be up reading all night. Unfortunately, after its gripping beginning it became so slow it was utterly painful. The only thing that kept me going was the desire to at least have one of several questions answered. To at least be making progress with the storyline. I figured, if I came this far there’s bound to be some solutions soon. But I continued to read and they never came. By the halfway mark I’ll admit I was skimming. Let me be frank with you folks, if anyone has the ability to skim through your book and still understand the main premise of the story, you’ve got some serious trimming of fat to do on your novel. Get rid of all the crap that isn’t absolutely crucial to the plot.
Although the writing was horrific it did have great potential. With a lot of practice, I’m sure Meadows has the capabilities of becoming a wonderful author. She just needs to learn to give her readers some closure and not leave them utterly befuddled and discombobulated!
In the end, I’m truly heartbroken by this book. But I’m still hooked enough that I’ll be looking out for book number 2. I’m not going to tell you to stay clear from this book because you may have more patience with it than I did. Heck, you might even enjoy it. Just be warned that you better diminish any high hopes before diving in. It will soften the blow.
Posted on February 17, 2012, in Book Review, Three & 1/2 Star and tagged 3.5 stars, Book Review, Dragons, Fantasy, Incarnate, Jodi Meadows, New Soul, No Soul, Old Soul, Reincarnation, YA. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.