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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Incarnate" by Jodi Meadows~From an Adult Perspective

Published by:  Katherine Tegen Books/Harper Collins
Pages:  234
Genre:  YA Fiction/Fantasy


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?
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.

The Dame's Take On It :
If you could see me, you'd see a very puzzled look on my face right now.  I wish I could tell you this is a book to rush out and get for a good read, but I can't.  I can't because it's such a spin-up of things.  On the one hand, it's a deeply moving and poignant story of love and redemption.  But, on the other, it's a fantasy tale that has so many loose ends it just doesn't add up!   This is one that you'll just have to be the judge of yourself after reading my thoughts below.

Granted, this is YA fiction, but we've read a good deal of excellent fiction in this category that can stand up to anything in the general fiction genre.  I'm reviewing this book from the perspective of whether an adult would enjoy reading it.

Jodi Meadows has real promise as an author.  There are sparks of brilliance in her writing.  Very magical and emotionally touching segments of this book that are exceptional and alive with feeling and truth.  They are the very best qualities I found in reading "Incarnation," and they are found in the sections having to do with the direct relationship between the two main characters, Ana and Sam.   The way Sam coaxed and loved Ana from an abused and unloved child to a young woman who is guided out of that darkness into being strong enough to find herself and find love, is an amazingly beautiful story.  There is a depth of tenderness written here that matches any I've read.

What didn't work, and what leaves me scratching my head wondering why it was even a part of such a wonderful novel is all the falderall over dragons, sylphs and other fantastic evil creatures (which we didn't even meet!).  I understand this was possibly written as a fantasy novel and there were some lovely Chinese fairytale quality passages to the book, especially early on, but this degenerated quite a bit to a sort of strange side-story that interfered with the better story of Ana and Sam.  The time settings were strange, as well.  I kept wondering if it actually was a fantasy or a dystopian/futuristic society...there were hints of both.  Then, I felt there were hints of Hinduism because of the reincarnation theme, but that didn't mesh with the Christ-like figure of J. who was supposed to have built the City, Heart, and acted as a savior to their world.  Nor did it fit with Ana's scientist, gene-bending father who had a part in creating her as a newsoul.  Confusion reigned in the book.  Just too many unanswered questions and too many non-directions to give the book unity.

I ran through to the end because I wanted to confirm that this was either a strange novel, or that Ms Meadows was going to ultimately enlighten us so that I could report to you my findings.  And, of course, I did want to know what happened between Ana and Sam...sort of.  I won't say this was a waste of my day, altogether.  But, I can't recommend you buy this book right now.  You may want to wait for it to come out in paperback, or to check with your local library.   Sorry, it's not one of the best in YA fiction this year.  Since I'm supposing there may be a sequel, I'll be thinking about the paperback/library copy of that, too, if I have time in my book stacks for the read.

3 1/2  stars because of its brighter love story parts



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