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on August 18, 2012
I have had this book on my radar for a long time. Many people are very excited for the sequel. After reading this book, I have to agree with them.

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows centers on Ana, a NewSoul or NoSoul, depending on who you ask, a girl who is a brand new soul in a population of reincarnated souls... in essence, everyone has lived many, many lives and she has only lived a few years of her one life. She has a mother who hates her, and sets off on her own at age 18 to travel to the city of Heart. Along the way, she meets Sam, and he is the first friendly person she meets. From there, things develop dramatically, and I don't want to give away any of this book's secrets.

I am so torn when reviewing this book. From about 10% to 80% it is really one of the best books I've read in a while. The relationship between Sam and Ana is wonderful and magical. It's been a long time since I've been so moved by a romantic relationship in a YA book. Most of the time I'm convinced I'm too old and jaded to enjoy such things anymore. But Meadows has changed my mind. Sam is the first love interest that I seriously have a crush on myself-- he is gentle, intelligent, modest, and incredibly talented (and mature by about 5000 years). For the first time, we have a love interest that is NOT the bad boy of the novel. To not reveal too much-- any of the scenes centered on music and the masquerade were my favorites, and I literally gasped out loud at several of them (in a good way).

So you ask, why does this book get four stars. The beginning of the book, the first 10%, is almost not compelling enough to stick around. We get introduced to her hateful mother, with no good characteristics that I see, and watch poor Ana stagger around feeling sorry for herself. Don't be fooled. The story quickly becomes amazing as I stated above. The end of the story has a bit of an issue too-- lots of action occurs, but I feel that some of the storylines are abruptly cut short in ways that are less than satisfying.

That said, there is so much to love about this wonderful book, and I feel like Jodi Meadows is only just getting started. I have no doubt that the next installment in this trilogy will only be stronger and better, and I have just become one of the throng waiting eagerly for the next installment.
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on January 24, 2013
My thoughts on Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
So besides being drawn to the cover Incarnate by far was a dream to read, like a butterfly carried me through the entire book so effortlessly. My best description of the book as I started was sympathizing with Ana to start the first of your life with a feeling of no self worth no love would be hard then to set into a world unknown, being the only one (newsoul or nosoul). Ana surprised me in many ways at first I thought her character to be weak and stubborn and yes she was a stubborn character. Weak she was not, her strength grew just as she came into her own. Ana needed to find herself in a sea of people who found themselves 5000 years ago.

I was instantly drawn into the story line, I felt that author Jodi Meadows kept me on my toes for this book was not predictable at all. No insta love the romance was ongoing with just a touch here and there to keep you wanting the other to go after it. Being a Pride and Prejudice fan myself even though this book had nothing to do with Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy I would say Ana and Sam sure reminded me of them as characters. Ana was stubborn and set in her thoughts sometimes thinking maybe just maybe Sam was not what he really was. Sam was drawn toward Ana wanted to share that with her but his pride was in check I mean what would be said, how would people react, would he lose her. The 2 characters were well written, plus I enjoyed the romance in this book.

Dragons and Sylph now I have to look up exactly what a sylph is but I would not want to meet one in this lifetime or any for that matter. The constant attacks on Ana, Sam and the city are so wonderful. I wanted to grab a laser and get in there to help. Author Jodi Meadows has a wonderful imagination. Without including spoilers the dragons don't spit fire but something else! Something to check out yourself and look forward too.

I don't want to include spoilers so I will stay away from all parts of being in the city Heart, which I can't clearly grasp a picture of I know the author explained it but I need more to the city. I can see the way the city is but I wish it was more in my mind. More than just white plain more color more awesome or intrigue to the surroundings in Heart. Hopefully that is too come in the next book.

This book was awesome I am onto Asunder. Jodi Meadows writing is wonderful. I am adding her to my favorite author list!! Seeing how I don't read alot of Dystopia and Fantasy after reading Incarnate I will be reading more! Thanks Jodi for a read that I can share with my entire family.
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on February 1, 2012
In Heart, everyone is an old soul--quite literally. Each of the million souls that have existed since the beginning of memory are continually reincarnated after the death of the physical body--until one year the temple goes dark and a soul is lost forever. Ana is born during that time and the people of Heart believe that she "stole" the place of the old soul. Treated as an outcast, Ana grows up in an unloving home and is cast out into the snow on her eighteenth birthday, where she survives only on the kindness of a stranger...

Ana is a broken character at the beginning of the story. Everything that her mother has taught her in her eighteen years of life has been meant to tear her down and make her feel like a nobody. Despite such awful circumstances, Ana has chosen to propser, teaching herself to read and appreciate music (even though she knows her mother will punish her for those things). When Ana is rescued by Sam, she experiences her frst glimpses of what it might feel like to be accepted by others--to have friends. I loved watching Ana develop and grow. So much of her perspective must change in order for this to happen--she has to experience a true shift in her thinking to appreciate that others might accept her more than her parents did. She's easy to connect and sympathize with from the beginning. Her voice has an authentic quality that makes her likeable from page one.

Sam is an unexpected ray of light and hope in Ana's life. He recues her without realizing who she is but continues to treat her well even after he knows--much to Ana's surprise. Once she stops trying to run away from him, he offers her the friendship that she's always longed for (whether she realized it or not). I liked Sam from the moment that he recued Ana. He is simply fabulous in the way that he doesn't judge her and he forces her to look beyond the things that her mother taught her about herself--strives to convince her that she is not a "nosoul" but a "newsoul."

Ms. Meadows' writing and storytelling simply captivated me. I read this book in the span of one evening--I couldn't put it down. Ana's story really drew me in from page one and I couldn't wait to see where her journey would take her. The story that Incarnate offers readers is beautifully written and refreshingly unique. I loved her take on reincarnation and the implications that it holds for life and love. The story wraps up beautifully without leaving the reader hanging onto a heart-breaking cliffhanger while leaving plenty of room for growth in future installments. I, personally, cannot wait to read more of Ana's story.
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on February 1, 2012
I am extremely disappointed with this book. It held so much promise with the story of souls being reincarnated, dragons, sylphs, and a utopian society! Doesn't that sound awesome? And that cover! It's simply gorgeous! Well, you know that age old rule, "Don't judge a book by its cover?" I should have listened to it. -_-

Ana, our protagonist, lives in a world where once you die you come back reincarnated in another body. Everyone always comes back, except on one night when the Temple flashes black and the soul, Ciana, dies. Five years later a baby girl is born and everyone is expecting it to be Ciana. Instead, Ana is born and is the first Newsoul. Ana's father seemingly abandons his family, while her mother leaves the city, Heart, out of embarrassment. Ana is kept away for eighteen years and mentally and physically abused by her mother, Li. Li blames Ana for replacing Ciana and she along with others call her the Nosoul. So, on Ana's eighteenth birthday she sets out to the city of Heart to find out why she was born.

That all sounds really interesting, right? So, imagine my surprise when the majority of the book Ana isn't researching her past or digging into mysteries of the Temple, but instead playing the piano with the love interest, Sam. Most of the book revolves around their relationship. And while I really liked how it was not an insta-love situation, it completely distracted the book from the actual plot. In fact, you barely even know more about any other characters besides Sam and Ana. This book had a lot of potential and up until about 80% of the book, I was okay with giving this book 3 stars in hopes that the ending would save the rest of the book. It did not.

Let me break this down for you:

The Romance:

The entire book is the romance. Do not let the blurb fool you. Ana is rarely doing anything to find out more about her past. When she first leaves her mother's cottage she gets attacked by a Sylph and nearly drowns. However, Sam, a thousand-year-old soul, just happens to be camping nearby and saves her. From then on out their relationship consist of music lessons, almost kisses, and awkwardness. It was clear that they did like each other, but it is not clear what the romantic conflict was. Was it their age difference? What the people of Heart might think about them? It almost seems as if Meadows purposefully kept them apart just to add romantic tension because most of the time nothing is happening. What really irked me was the choppy dialog between Sam and Ana. Ana is always "almost" catching Sam's facial expression or "too slow" to see his true emotions:
Something flashed in his eyes, but I was too slow to fully see it.

"...as well as a dozen other emotions flickering across his face too quickly to read.

His gaze stayed on mine, like there was something I was supposed to read in his expression...

...and when he glanced at me, some indecipherable expression crossed his face.

He caressed the keys again, some strange expression crossing his face. Or-- It was hard to tell. I still couldn't interpret his expressions well.

His expression was impossible to read in the dark.

He closed his eyes and again, I wasn't fast enough to comprehend his expressions.

He faced me again, but it was too dark to see the subtleties of his expression. "

And on and on it went. Ana didn't know what was going on and neither did I. For most of the book I remained in the dark about why Sam even liked Ana. You like each other, I'm not sure why, but I get it already! They became so annoying that I just wanted to grab their little heads and make them get it over with already.

However, what really got me was how Ana just turned a blind eye to things Sam did. When they first met he told her his birthday was the same day as hers, but later she finds out his birthday was a few weeks before hers:

"I glanced at Sam; he'd said we shared a birthday, hadn't he? Why would Meuric say something different?"

Indeed, Ana. Why would he lie about that? And she never confronts him about that. Then when they get to Heart, Sam becomes Ana's "guardian" and teacher and resides in his house. She notices that he sneaks out every night and never confronts him about it. She often finds him talking about her behind her back and when she does confront him he pretty much says, "I'll tell ya later." Ummm...Whhhaaaattt? But he never actually tells her later. So once again, I'm lost. Not to mention often times I couldn't even tell who was speaking due to choppy dialog.

The World Building or lack thereof:

We are told that there are one million souls that are reincarnated over and over when they die. It is also mentioned that the Council monitors who can have children to not mess with the gene pool. We aren't really told how this works and it bugged me the entire time I was reading. It seems that the souls are asexual beings that can come back as male or female each lifetime. So, I guess you could be Billy's mom in one lifetime and 10 lifetimes down the road Billy might be your mom? Except by then, Billy would be a Susie. And perhaps in the next lifetime she's your lover? Sam has a best friend that is his sometimes lover. Sam owns women's clothes because he has been a woman in other lifetimes and he lends these clothes to Ana to wear. For whatever reason, this seemed awkward to me. There was also the question of where the other people who didn't reside in Heart live? We are led to believe living outside of Heart is very dangerous because of the dragons, sylph, ect. so how are they surviving? Is Janan their god? What's up with the Temple? There just didn't seem to be any rules to this universe. Can we say, "Back to the drawing board?"

The Plot and The Ending:

Where was it exactly? I should not be flipping through the pages wondering when the climax will hit. One minute Sam and Ana are finally proclaiming their feelings and the next minute dragons are attacking the city. So much time is focused on their relationship that I actually forgot her original reason for coming to Heart. Hell, it sure seemed like Ana forgot. And when we finally discover why she was born and Ciana wasn't reincarnated, I'm like, "That's it?! That's your big reveal?!" The ending just seemed like it was thrown together it an attempt to make me worry for the character's lives. And I didn't. *shurgs* They all could have been eaten by dragons for all I cared by the end.

*sigh*

I haven't been this disappointed in a book since Wildefire and the only reason why this book gets two stars instead of one is because it was interesting and the premise kept me turning pages in hopes that it would live up to the blurb. I will read the next book in the series, but for now it resides on my, "you're on probation" shelf.

An ARC was received from the publishers for reviewing purposes. This review expresses my honest opinion of the book.

More reviews and other random things on my blog Cuddlebuggery Book Blog.
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on January 31, 2012
I've always been a skeptic about the conceptions of reincarnation. I have even had moments where I wondered if IT IS true, what would be the possibilities of being reincarnated into a person or an animal? And ironically, how it would also be awesome to remember your past lives and carry it on to the next. It would be a great way to never make the same mistake twice, right!

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows is captivating, delightful, and will become an extension of your arm because you won't be able to put it down! I LOVED IT!!

I was so wrapped up in the story that there was barely any moment where I let it go. The story is very unique and you don't often come across books that have reincarnation as its premise.
The characters were easy to remember because each one played a distinctive role and stood out from each other. Some where very easy to fall in love with and befriend where others you just wanted to strangle or hoped to get chewed up by a dragon. When I say this, I'm hinting on Li whom I'm hating with a passion. =) Which goes to show how well Jodi's written words pulls the reader's emotions right into the story!
The romance between Sam and Ana is a kismet that any girl would die for! I was swept off my feet right from the beginning and swooned over its progression. Hearts were a flutter when I got near the end. I'm still giddy way after I've finished reading it.
The society and story-line are intriguing and I really want to know more, I'm hoping to get MORE! I'm really wishing that there will be a sequel. As for the ending, it made me a bit wary of Sam, but I think I'm just being cynical. hahaha
I DEFINITELY RECOMMEND this beautiful 2012 debut!! YOU MUST READ 'INCARNATE' by Jodi Meadows!!
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on January 31, 2012
***ARC received for review***
Before I get started on the book, I have to take a moment to drool over the cover a little bit more. I mean look at the cover! Isn't it absolutely gorgeous?! The butterfly mask is a beautiful symbol for incarnation. Already pre-ordered my copy because I simply HAVE to have this beautiful book on my bookcase!

Um, ok. Now I can talk about the book. Ana lives in Range, where a million souls are reincarnated over and over. When Ana was born, another soul disappeared and no one knows why Ana is a NewSoul. Feared and disgraced Ana is taken away by her evil mother Li to be raised outside of society. Li tells Ana lies about the outside world and is very cruel to her. On Ana's 18th birthday, she takes off to the city of Heart to find out once and for all why she is new and whether or not she will re-incarnate when she dies. Along the way crosses paths with Sam, a teenage boy who saves her life on more than one occasion. He gives Ana a chance and agrees to take her to Heart and help her find the answers she is looking for.

Sam defends Ana against the counsel and the town people who don't want Ana to live with them. Sam agrees to let Ana live with him and teach her skills necessary to survive in the city. Although at first Ana is distant and defensive against Sam, the more time they spend together she starts to warm up to him and their friendships grows...slowly but surely. But soon, someone is after Ana and she must find out who and why before they kill her, because she might not be able to come back.

Incarnate was beautifully written and Ana was so easy to relate to. Although I was a little weirded out by the concept of Incarnation, especially the fact that sometimes people were re-incarnated as a different gender, the story was very original and fresh and the action was fast paced enough to keep you hooked throughout the whole story. Most of the focus of the story was on the friendship between Ana and Sam. It was nice to read a YA story where the main couple didn't instantly fall for each other.

Incarnate had it all: great story, romance, action, a masquerade ball, and dragons! Can't wait to read what Jodi Meadows has next for us in the Newsoul series!

4.5 out of 5 sparkly stars!
***
My Favorite Incarnate Quotes:
- He hesitated. "So I'm your best friend now?"
My cheeks heated, and I shrugged. "It was between you and Sarit, and you have the piano. She just has honey."
Sam laughed, and his knuckles brushed the back of my mitten, as if he'd been about to take my hand, but changed his mind. "Even though I'm pretty sure you chose the piano,
not me--"

- He nodded, brushed hair off my face, and headed from the kitchen. "I hate being a teenager."
"Why?"
"Hormones." With a sad half smile, he left.

- "Sam." I felt like I was choking. Or drowning. Maybe some of both. He stopped walking, at any rate. "You asked how I'd know who you were."
Silence.
"I'll always know."
- I really was a butterfly.
***
Read more of my reviews at [...]
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on June 20, 2013
After reading the reviews finishing the book, I have to agree with another of the two star reviewers. This was a fantastic concept for a book - almost unique in either adult or tweenage fantasy books. While the concept is phenomenal, I think I've decided not to read the second or third books because the story simply will not develop into....well anything I'd want to read. The problems I had are as follows:

1) The concept of having souls reborn into a world and then introducing a "newsoul" into that world is fantastic. I can't say this enough. However, little if anything was developed on this plot front. Ana claims to be going to Heart to learn about her past, but she does almost nothing of the sort - instead spending her time besotted with the first man she meets. There are two or three times in the entire text that mention her questioning philosophy or the existence of Janan. That is it. The author would have to write at least 10 more novels to satisfactorily develop this concept at the pace she develops here. Arguably, you could claim that the author hinted that this information was being withheld from Ana which is why the reader doesn't know it, but again, there is so little text to support this and so little development on this front. You easily forget to focus on the fact that your female protagonist is SUPPOSED to be on a hero(ine)'s quest. The story begins on an amazing new concept of a female monomyth (awesome!) only to quickly morph into tweeny romance (not awesome!). Which brings me to...
2) This is a romance novel and not a very good one. My first qualm with the story line is that Ana is obviously a survivor of child abuse. To have the first person she meets outside of her abusive mother be her "matched pair," which is clear that's where this is going, seems careless. She befriends almost no one of any depth outside of this character (see gripe #4) and centers her entire life around him, forgetting, as far as plot development goes, why she even came to Heart. This isn't to argue that all fiction should have some sort of moral guideline, but to have little to no interaction outside of this relationship seemed...well, irresponsible. Another reviewer at least gave the author some credit for not making it a "love at first sight" story, but I have to disagree. It was obvious from the get-go that Ana was in love with Sam and vice versa, and when the author introduced the concept of the rededication masquerade I gave up hope of any deeper plot development at that point. This is a story of "true love", not a story about questioning what it means to have a soul, to be reborn, or to face death. You spend most of the novel watching Ana/Sam barely brush elbows and/or stare deeply into the other's eyes. They finally kiss and snuggle in bed at the end, only to be separated by the evil mother (thank you for turning this into a Disney story). Again, I wouldn't be so disappointed in this type of story line if the author hadn't set it up to be a story about so much more - a girl and her journey to question the meaning of identity and who does/does not deserve a chance at life at the cost of other's immortality. It was incredibly disappointing to watch what could be both a new fantasy concept with a strong FEMALE protagonist degrade into trashy romance.
3) If you are going to write a novel about a world which is not our own, you must develop it AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT. Period. Again, you could claim that because the story is from Ana's point of view that this is why the author withholds information. The obvious problem with this is that Ana is clearly not stupid and knows enough about the world to know how to trap sylph and why to avoid dragon spit. So she knows enough to be able to tell the reader more about her environment.
4) On a related issue of development, there is no character development. Li correctly notes that Ana latches on to the first character to show her kindness (Sam) and this is the only character we get any kind of introduction to. The rest of the characters remain peripheral at best and almost like background props in a play, trotted out when needed and put backstage when finished. Her supposed other friends are unmemorable, probably because they play almost no role in Ana's life other than supposedly giving her classes (which you never see her do) and Stef helping her learn to dance. Her "friends" outside of Sam have no substance and no real role in the text.
5) Oh yeah, and the ending. The twist of Ana's father was at least mildly interesting, but then - surprise, surprise - he dies before Ana or the reader can learn anything more. You get a snippet of information that is supposed to satisfy everything that didn't happen in gripe #1 of this review. So you get no plot development and are tossed a crumb of information completely out of context without any sort of logic from the text to support it.

This gets two stars because the concept of the story is original. I was so excited, which may be why my disappointment was so acute. The could have been something game-changing for the genre of fantasy. Instead, it devolved into something based on Twilight-type romance novels without being nearly as interesting as Twilight. I came in expecting tweeny writing with a great story line and only got the former.
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VINE VOICEon January 20, 2015
I liked:
♥ The uniqueness of the story. Prior to Incarnate, I hadn’t read any reincarnation stories.
♥ Ana. I thought her being a newsoul in a world of old souls was a lot like a teenager around adults. Adults have that world weary feeling of having done everything before, but to teens, it’s all new. I really felt for her, living in a world where everyone else had known each other for 5,000 years.
♥ There’s an intriguing mix of fantasy and modern day elements. For example, the people of Heart have cars, but instead of driving there from the mountains, they walk for a week, with a pack pony. There are dragons and laser pistols. I liked the blending of old and new.
♥ I don’t want to let this book go back to the library. I almost never buy hardcovers, because I don’t have the room for them, but I want to so I can have Incarnate on my shelf. I know I’m going to want to reread it when Asunder comes out in January of 2013. Which is too long to wait, by the way.

I didn’t like:
— The romance. It came too soon for me, but Sam is a sweet guy. I can see why Ana fell for him. Hower, the romance wasn’t enough to detract from what I loved about the book.
— The Tower confused me. I didn’t quite understand the scene with Meuric there, but I’m assuming more explanation for that will come in Asunder.

Favorite thing:
Everything about this book is beautiful. It’s a very well designed package, from the story to the writing to the cover to the chapter illustrations. There is a striking butterfly drawing at the start of each chapter. I really like the author’s writing style — the descriptions are lush without being purple prose. If I started quoting favorite lines, I’d have ten pages before I knew it. The writing is my absolute favorite part. I hope I can emulate some of Jodi’s style in my own writing.

Second favorite thing:
Okay, I loved the cover. I’ll admit it. I choose books with my eyes first, zooming in on covers that I really like. It’s so unusual, and even better — it fits the story. I’ve said it over and over, but I could stare at this cover forever.
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on February 16, 2012
I really enjoyed this book, it had a unique premise and didn't have some of the pitfalls I often find in young adult fiction.

The setting is a world where souls are reincarnated into new bodies with their full set of memories intact. The same people have been born over and over into different bodies for over 5000 years. Ana is the exception. She is a newsoul who was born after the soul of Ciana failed to be reborn. Ana is raised by her mother, Li, who holds her in contempt for replacing Ciana.

The story begins with Ana leaving Li's house and meeting Sam, who is one of the few people who does not share Li's view of Ana. At first Ana is very reluctant to trust Sam, but as the story progresses, Ana does begin to trust him and eventually love him. The development of their relationship is not rushed and feels organic and real. The dichotomy of Sam, the 5000 year old teenager, and Ana an actual teenager is compelling and written well.

As Ana learns about the society she was born into and investigates her existence, many mysteries unfold. If Sam and his peers didn't build the city they inhabit, who did? What is the mysterious tower with no doors in the center? Where do the dragons come from? What are sylph? Why did Ana replace Ciana? The introduction of these mysteries kept me turning the pages of this book.
Some of these questions are answered in the book but many are not. I would say that the book satisfied enough of my curiosity that I'm not frustrated and I am anxious to read the next book.

My only real issue with this story is the abrupt end. It really feels more like a chapter in a longer story rather than a complete story on its own. This is a tricky thing to balance in the world of trilogies and few books get it completely right.

Overall, I love the unique world and story presented in Incarnate and am very much looking forward to the next installment.
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on March 19, 2012
I liked this book, but a lot of it confused me. The author jumps right into the story without much explanation, but you learn as you keep reading. Most of my confusion was cleared up, but I still found many aspects of the book very strange. It was almost too fanciful and removed from the world as we know it for me to relate. However, I thought the plot was interesting and I loved the characters.

Ana is a very relate-able character. Even though her perception of herself and the world was completely skewed (thanks to her atrocious "mother" Li), I could completely understand her perspective. Also, I loved Sam. Sam and Ana's romance was completely enthralling. The author did a very good job of telling their story.

Overall, while I think some parts of this book were quite odd, I really liked the story. I would recommend this book to anyone with a vivid imagination that doesn't mind when rules are broken and reality is skewed.
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