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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.
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
What I Generally Thought:
I had heard of Jodi Meadows and her Incarnate series earlier 2013 through EpicReads (of course-the YA news source *wink*).
When I had my book ordering splurge that included Veronica Rossi’s Under the Never Sky series, Incarnate was included in that book splurge. The beautifully designed cover of Ana with her gorgeously crafted butterfly wings for a mask, embody the cover of this book. I was very intrigued about the concept of a NewSoul. Imagine everyone in the world has been reincarnated these last 5,000 years–keeping their memories as they pass through different lives–and suddenly, being the only one who has never been reincarnated before, a New Soul.
During my sick week (Reading Weekend! Sick Day Blues) when I finally pulled myself out of my reading slump (Winter Break Reading Slump) and delve back into the magical world of books, the second book on that list was Incarnate. I had just devoured Under the Never Sky in two days–honestly, I could have in one day probably, but I was deathly ill, so my brain wasn’t processing well–and not having Book two–Through the Ever Night–in my hands, I needed something that would help my through my Perry blues. I reached over & thought,
“Alright, Incarnate, let’s meet Sam and Ana.”
I devoured this book in almost one day (again, the sick thing). I loved Sam and Ana. Immediately, I wanted to get better and go out hunting Asunder (Book two), hug it, squeeze it and call it my “Squishy”.
I found the concept very interesting–this eighteen year old girl who had been sheltered away from the world all her life. Sheltered, but not for endearing protection, but due to her parents shame of her. Her first words were when she was five years old. No one ever spoke to her, so she never said a word.
Li took me home,and the next day I collected all the words I knew and made a sentence. Everyone else remembered a hundred lifetimes before this one. I had to know why I couldn’t.
“Who am I?” My first spoken words.
“No one,” she said. “Nosoul.”
Ana taught herself to read, to live. Hidden away all those years in Purple Rose Cottage, away from the nearest town called Heart, Ana never interacted, never felt affection or compassion from any other human being. We experience how different she is from those with the wisdom of ten, twenty lifetimes when she meets Sam.
This world of Incarnate, I found to be a different take to what I usually know about Fantasy books. Here, we have a world of Reincarnated people who live seemingly regular lives. Few technological advancements compared to our world today and then she threw in dragons, sylphs, centaurs, trolls, etc. What made it all so interesting for me was reading the story and feeling as though Ana could have been me. Her struggles and awkward moments felt relatable. It wasn’t like being in the midst of “Game of Thrones” medieval times-like eras with dragons and centaurs (though I love those stories too). It was just refreshing to read a different take on Fantasy. (then again, I haven’t read much Fantasy yet so I am most definitely not an expert here)
Book one had left us off revealing so much about Ana, and her past. A tragedy occurred shaking the entire town of Heart, and the aftermath is where we leave off in Book one. Ana, is coming to a realization. She’s growing up and stronger than she or anyone else who doubted her, thought she could be. She wasn’t just a butterfly.
This concludes the Spoiler-free book talk. Next, Memorable Moments Tabs!
I loved this story. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to a friend.
Tab #1 – (pg. 19) Ana wakes up from almost drowning to find a young man sleeping beside her
Enter SAM! 🙂
Here is Ana, just turned eighteen and her mother sends her off along with a broken compass. Ana gets attacked by burning sylph. Cornered, Ana jumps off a cliff into a risky river. It’s winter. She’s frozen, drowning, dying when suddenly, someones arms wrap around her waist and pull her up.
She wakes up dry, wrapped up in warm blankets.
Something solid pressed against my back. A body breathed in time with me, steady in and out, until I broke the unity by thinking about it. An arm was slung over my ribs, and a palm rested on my heart as if to make sure it continued beating, or to ensure that it didn’t fall out. Breath warmed the back of my neck, rustling hairs across my skin.
Just as I began to drowse further into my dream, a deep voice behind me said, “Hi.”
This was a great way to start things off. My attention was glued from here on. I believe I didn’t end up going to sleep till very late in the middle of the night.
Tab #2 – (pg. 65-66) Sam’s surprised gesture…Honey.
Oh my heart. Poor Ana, she was brought up terribly, and constantly was scolded for the most minuscule things like finding the honey and eating some. When Ana shared this with Sam, instantly her mind went towards wounded animal behavior, making sure to mention immediately to Sam that she was younger then, she would never take anything without permission. Inside she winced wanting to say, “Please don’t send me away”. They had been in his cabin together for two weeks due to her injuries from saving him from another sylph attack. Learning that she liked sweet things, Sam set out to the Purple Rose Cottage for more medicine and supplies. When he returned, he surprised Ana and brought her honey.
She was stunned. He drew out of the bag, “a glass jar filled with golden-amber liquid.” She did something that shocked even her. She wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tight.
I shook with nerves–with touching someone voluntarily, and allowing him to trap me in his embrace–and I shook with warring confusion and gratitude.
Why would he do something so nice?
I didn’t understand. If he’d been Li, he would have used my desires against me somehow, but every time I told him something about myself, he gave me something in return. Music. Honey.
Tab #3 – (pg. 123-126) Achingly cute…the almost kiss
Slightly awkward morning. Ana’s reeling from multiple little things. Last night, Sam almost seemed to have been reaching down to kiss her forehead goodnight, but he hesitated. This morning, she made coffee. They exchanged a little snark. He sits down and she expects a reaction from him after she says something she believes was stupid. Nothing. She definitely had a girl moment here. She admits to being annoyed that he doesn’t react. He doesn’t care, he’s too calm, even when he should be mad or happy.
Sam lifted an eyebrow. “Too calm?”
“Yes!” I stalked around the kitchen, looking everywhere but at him…
…”So you don’t think you’re just impulsive?”
I halted, glared. “Impulsive?”
“You know the word, don’t you” (whoa, Sam, no you didn’t. That’s like telling a woman during a rant “Calm down.”)
“Yes.” He really thought I was stupid, didn’t he?
“It’s just,” he went on as if I hadn’t spoken, “you’re so young and sometimes I forget what you do and don’t know.”
My chest hurt…I spun and marched toward the back door. Sam lurched to his feet and caught my wrist, my waist, and even though his grip was gentle, I didn’t have the energy to wrestle away.
“See? Impulsive.” He smiled and didn’t loosen his hold.
Then they have this conversation, exposing Sam emotionally a bit. They stood so close and in silence, Ana wanted him to kiss her, desperately. She focused on it, hoping, willing him to know what she wanted. But Sam makes a decision. She sees it in his eyes and he leans away.
“Sam?” I turned away as my vision blurred. “You think too much.”
Tab #4 – (pg. 213-221) Ana Incarnate.
The dragon attack shook all of Heart but especially Sam. There was something specific from his past that traumatized him. Sam had been in bed for days, not really seeing people or doing anything. Music was the only time he seemed normal. This morning, he didn’t come down. She played hoping that would lift his spirits–nothing. Next idea, she began playing something new. Something she could hear in her head. Nothing.
She went to his room and found him sitting on the floor, staring blankly at the wall, not moving, hardly breathing.
He came to, finally and held her tight. She sat across his lap, sideways, leaning against his chest. Sam shares his greatest fears with Ana here about how he always seems to die.
Eventually, he suggests to go attend to their music lessons. He wants to hear what she was playing–first time her attempting something of her own–then as they leave the room, he reclaims her hand, spins her around in a dancing stance and says he just thought of a name for her waltz.
My heart felt too big for my ribs to cage.
For all the unfair head kissing, the way we hadn’t kissed in the kitchen, and his grudging agreement to dance with me every morning–it suddenly seemed he knew me better than anyone in the world. Better than anyone ever would.
Tab #5 – (pg. 260-266) MASQUERADE! *feels*
Omylanta, this entire chapter! I was SO excited because I knew the cover concept was inspired due to this Masquerade. The concept of Ana not wanting to be a butterfly, beautifully made and revealed but gone by morning. She didn’t want to be a Nosoul–no purpose, no point in living or considered at all, if only to be gone and not reincarnated for the next life–she wanted to be more than that, worth more than that. Ironically enough, she created a butterfly for her costume for this event. Her mask was beautifully crafted into butterfly wings. The point of the event was to celebrate two souls who have always been in love, connected and have found each other time and time again, throughout each life.
Later in the night, a group of people (reminder: Many people in Heart do NOT like Ana existing–her existence means an old soul didn’t get reincarnated and never will again) surround her and start grabbing her and tossing her roughly around to different people. Right before someone else took possession of her, a new dancer stepped in and came in between her and the group.
The entire night, no one is suppose to know who anyone is. The masks need to purposely conceal identities as a representation that two souls who are meant to be together will always find each other, even if they can’t see them. Sam and Ana haven’t found each other all night. She’s caught multiple masks eyeing her throughout the night.
Omyword, this dance between them was so sensual and beautiful.
Before she could get a good look at his mask, he spun her around and pressed her back against his chest. His arm wrapped around her waist, his embrace gentle.
At this point I’m freaking out wondering, “Is it Sam? It has to be Sam! Is it Sam!?!”
His fingers brushed my cheek, down my neck. The entire masquerade stretched out before me, but my focus tunneled to the man behind me. Hands eased around my hips and held tight as we spun; my feet lifted off the ground, but even when I thought the wings might carry me into the breeze, he held me tight.
When I tilted my head back against his shoulder, warmth billowed against my throat where he kissed.
and then…FINALLY…The first kiss.
I kissed him
Three long seconds and he only gasped and tightened his hands on my back. Then…he opened his mouth and kissed me. It wasn’t an easy, sweet kiss like I’d imagined my first would be, but frustrated and hungry.
He was in shock when she pulled his mask off. She knew it was Sam. He was surprised she knew it was him. She feared he might have not known it was her and wanted it to be someone else but he confirmed, “of course” he knew it was her.
Can I just say, I love Jodi Meadows. So many quirks she gave Ana that are just brilliant and awesome. Exhibit A, while he was talking to Ana, she’s there thinking…
And I wanted him to kiss me again. Less talking. More kissing.
Tab #6 – (pg. 280-290) “Maybe three a day…maybe ten.” The almost more than a kiss
After the masquerade, Ana and Sam were in a beautifully stupendous place. She confronted him about his on and off again actions and conflicting emotions. Either they were kissing or not kissing. She needed clarity. He seemed to give it to her. Then…they got attacked by two people they couldn’t make out.
Back in the house, nursing their injuries, Ana pretty much has a meltdown. She says there’s a thunderstorm swirling inside her. They’re sitting on the bed talking, asking questions. Finally, Ana with some boldness says,
“Sam?” I twisted around, freeing myself from his arms.
He tilted his head. “Hmm?”
“You think too much.” I took fistfuls of his shirt and kissed him, somewhat more confident now that we had a little practice, still nervous…
Here, while they kissed, Sam explores her face, and arms, with his fingertips.
A part of you wants to scream, “Sam, stop being an old man, hesitating and over thinking EVERYTHING!”
Then I started thinking and couldn’t blame Sam. Here’s a young man, who has lived five thousand years. He has all his memories and experiences. He is experienced in some other matters *clears throat* if you know what I mean. I at one point just realized…
“Oh my goodness. Ana doesn’t know what sex is? How could she. Li never even let her speak or touch anything half the time. There was no one to explain to her any aspect of intimacy like that”
Her body responds and wants Sam but technically, she doesn’t know how or what it is her body is wanting. They break for a moment and she admits that she is nervous. She doesn’t know what happens next.
Then they have this cute back and forth about him after she asks, showing her a thousand things, whenever she is ready. First, it’s one a day. Ana doesn’t want to wait a thousand days to learn it all, so why not two, or three a day. In the end, after some flirtatious back and forth, she whispers, “Maybe ten.”
So though I was feeling Ana’s frustration, I understood Sam’s hesitation to be very careful with her. He didn’t want to take advantage. This intimate act that seemed so normal, common for him, was completely foreign to Ana.
I loved how Jodi carefully approached realistically, all the things Ana would be naive about but without making Ana weak, or ignorant either. Ana is still strong and wise beyond her years.
Tab #7 – (pg. 351) Enter Papa Menehem! Whoa.
This entire time, all we know really is that Ana’s father left Ana and Li when she was a baby. She knew nothing about him. We get hints here and there that he was off somewhere doing studies and experiments and the people of Heart did not have a good view of him–especially the people of the Council. The little Ana found–diaries, research–from her father in his lab location far off, was stolen the night of Tab #6. Here, we are at the end of the book. Ana ran to Purple Rose Cottage as Heart was being attacked by both dragons and sylph. Would Li be there? She finds her, confronts her and then, Li dies.
Ana freaks wondering if it was her, by her hand, with the laser. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t a dragon, it wasn’t a sylph…then a man steps out, over Li’s body. His features. She knew them well, even though she’s never met him before because they were hers.
“I’m Menehem,” he said. “We should talk.”
end of chapter.
Whoa, what? Papa Menehem, where the heck did you come from and where the heck have you been?
All that comes a little into the light as the book closes. Then we’re left to pick up in Book two, ASUNDER.
And that concludes my Book Talk on Incarnate by Jodi Meadows. I loved this book. I loved Sam and Ana. I am eager and excited for the conclusion of this series which comes out in nine days! Infinite!
Stay tuned for my Book Talk on book two, Asunder!