Review: Incarnate, by Jodi Meadows

I picked this book because the premise intrigued me. A world where everyone is reincarnated perpetually, and suddenly a new soul, Ana, is born, replacing an old one, and Ana sets out to find out why. I thought it was a neat idea and wanted to know how the author was going to play with it.

I have to say I was a bit disappointed with it. The writing itself was decent, and there was nothing really wrong with the story for what it is, but I went into the book wanting to know the explanation for why everyone is reincarnated – expecting the story to be about that, only to find that it was about eighty percent romance, and the premise that drew me into the story was reserved mostly for worldbuilding and the climax.

The worldbuilding was cool, I only wish there was more of it. I liked how there was some of the traditional fantasy props, like the dragons and centaurs and sylph, alongside a technologically advanced civilization. It made sense that they would be technologically advanced, since they do get reincarnated indefinitely, and have all the time in the world to pursue a project. The culture and practices of the people definitely reflected the fact that the people have infinite time to accomplish things, but also were very much set in their ways, without being a culture full of elf-like imperious wisdom where everyone is as rational as a vulcan. Longevity in this world doesn’t preclude mischievousness or passion.

On the other hand, while being a believable cast, they are, by and large, black and white. You can tell the black hats from the white hats from the first time you see them, and no one surprised me later. But not only that, it also seemed like most of the characters were run through the filter of whether or not Ana thinks they’re a threat to her relationship with Sam, and I felt through the whole thing that there was more importance put on that than on whether or not they were going to stop her from trying to find out the truth about her origins. Which, of course, was what was most important to me.

The romance itself – I’m no connoisseur of romance, but I thought it was ok for what it was. It’s a guy-rescues-helpless-girl romance, and that’s a hard sell for me, but I understand it appeals to others more, so I’m quite possibly just not the target audience for this book.

I was also a little frustrated by the lack of progress in the main premise – the search for Ana’s origins. There was some, but I had expected far more by the end of the book. We don’t get to understand what happened any more than at the beginning, only learn who was behind it.

And then there’s Soul Night. It was mentioned several times, characters wondering aloud what would happen on Soul night, but when Ana asks what it is, she’s brushed off, and it was terribly obvious that the author has something regarding Soul Night planned for the next book and was slipping in a hook. If Ana knew what it was, and just didn’t bother explaining in the narrative, that would be fine, I could accept that it was being saved for later book when it became relevant, but in dialogue, the brush off seemed so artificial.

But the book is really not as bad as I’m making it sound – I think young women who love a good romance would definitely enjoy the book, and it’s a good debut novel, overall.

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