Sometimes when I’m reading books to review, my expectations remain low. Mostly because I’m making myself read it out of duty, not because I got an urge to read that story. To be honest, that’s how I began with Incarnate. I didn’t think I’d like the whole reincarnation story as much. But also when reading books, I love to admit when I’m wrong. Incarnate was great! Young adult literature is full of supernatural, fantasy stories these days, and when something from that genre, like Incarnate, manages to create its own unique and original world, it makes it pretty special.
One of the things that Incarnate gets right is creating a new, complex world. I loved that while it was complex, it was explained rather simply. Occasionally, it takes me awhile to figure out exactly what’s going on. With this story, I understood practically everything, despite some of its complexity. We are introduced to a world where for thousands of years, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over. These people keep coming back to a new lifetime, and they get to keep all their memories and experiences from their previous lifetimes.
The main character is Ana, a new soul. Something went wrong when Ana was born, the reincarnated spirit of Ciana was supposed to be born. However, Ana had seemed to replace Ciana. Ana’s “new soul” status also can’t predict whether she’ll be reincarnated or not. Hence, society shunned her and considered her a “nosoul,” saying she isn’t capable of love or any human emotions. Her mother reinforced these principles in her, and Ana grew up miserable. Once she turns 18, she decides to set out for the city of Heart, where the majority of their society lives and the answers as to why she exists may be. On the way, she meets Sam, an oldsoul currently in the body of a young man, who may help Ana see how important she really is.
As with any first novel in a series, much time is spent with setting up the world. And since it was such a unique world, it was enjoyable to read. Despite my initial hesitation with the “reincarnation” storyline, it worked surprisingly well. It brought in some deeper meanings and questions. It wasn’t just a fun, fantasy read, but it had me thinking about reincarnation, God, what happens when you try to play God and is it even possible to do that? Also, the inclusion of dragons and sylphs made it pretty awesome and added some cool action scenes to the story. There’s a slow-burn romance that builds between Ana and Sam. It’s very much part of the story, but it doesn’t distract of the other elements.
Incarnate is a great start to a new series. I loved that it didn’t end in one of those terrible cliffhangers. It ended at the right time, when many of my initial questions had been answered or solved. Yet, it created some more interesting questions, which I look forward to finding the answers to in the subsequent sequels.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Publisher: HarperCollins (January 31, 2012)
Length: 384 pages, Hardcover
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Completed: January 2012