This book is so beautiful. It’s the kind of book I would have loved when I was a tween (is that the term now? I’m so old, lol)—it’s got an intensity a...moreThis book is so beautiful. It’s the kind of book I would have loved when I was a tween (is that the term now? I’m so old, lol)—it’s got an intensity and seriousness to it, but it’s still so accessible. I’ve never read a novel in verse before and wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it. I wondered if it would slow down my reading. Instead though, I think it made it swifter, while at the same time, some of the line breaks would add punch to thoughts, descriptions, or emotions.
This story is intense, un-put-down-able. This book enters loneliness and darkness and hope in ways that are just almost heart-stopping. Though set in the past, it’s one of those books that feel universal, that grabs you with its raw language, stark images, and--even though it’s set in the middle of nowhere--it still has incredible momentum and tension.
I first heard of Incarnate almost a year ago, and have been dying to read it ever since. I wait for book release days like most people do for summer b...moreI first heard of Incarnate almost a year ago, and have been dying to read it ever since. I wait for book release days like most people do for summer blockbusters. Like with movies, I read the synopsis over and over. I read interviews with the author, sample chapters, repeatedly watch the book trailer if they have one. And then I wait. And wait. And wait for the day I can get the book in my hot little hand. If there’s anyway I can beg or borrow or enter a contest to win an ARC, I try to find it (and usually fail, lol!)
Incarnate finally came out this week, and I wasn’t going to let a little thing like being too sick to get out of bed stop me from finally reading it as soon as it came out! So like any good reader with zero patience and a Kindle on hand, I bought it at midnight the moment it released, and read into the middle of the night until I’d finished it.
And oh. My. Gosh. You know how some books suffer the sad fate of the over-hype and the over-anticipation, where you’ve waited so long to read a book it can never live up to the monument you’ve created for it in your head? Yeah, Incarnate lived up. And more.
Oh how to name all the things I loved about this book!
-The setting. It has kind of a fantasy world feel to it, but they have gadgets too. And dragons! It was unusual and really freaking cool.
- Ana, the heroine. Her mother tells her that because she’s been born new (and not a reincarnation of someone else, like everybody else in their world), she’s a nosoul. Barely even a person, really. Watching Ana struggle with this conception of herself and slowly grow into the conviction that she is a full person with as much right to live and love as anyone else was really satisfying to read, and handled so well at every moment along the journey by the author.
- The reincarnation idea. It was really f’ing fascinating to think about a world where a soul can live for thousands of years, casting off old bodies and being born anew, but retaining their memories of everything that came before. You really get a feel for how insane this would be through Ana’s friendship with Sam. Ana’s seventeen, and Sam’s thousands of years old, currently in a seventeen-year-old body. Many of the residents of Heart consider Ana to be childlike, because she doesn’t have the skills or knowledge everyone else has been able to gather over the millennia. But being that old also means people are set in their ways. Many are unwilling to accept the newness and challenge that Ana’s very existence brings. Others ignore her, because like a butterfly, her life will be so brief that she’s not even worth reckoning with. I guess I found this point especially fascinating, because it gets into questions of what a single life is worth, however short it may be, and how it would affect the way you live if you believed that your existence was un-ending, that even if you died tomorrow, you’d come back and back and back. People tell Ana that she is passionate, and it made me think about the ways that passion is so often tied to do with discovering new things, discovering things you want to fight for, and having something to lose. It’s easy to lose your passion as you get older.
- The mysteries. There are some great mysteries throughout, starting with the question of why Ana is the first newsoul ever to be born, questions about the dragon attacks and the mysterious temple with no door, mysteries about factions that are secretly working against Ana, questions about Sam’s past, and more. And my favorite part of the book was the epic ending, where we get some really satisfying answers to some of these questions, there’s some amazing heartbeat-raising action, and basically all around, big sh*t goes down! There’s nothing I love better than a satisfying ending. Some mysteries are left to be resolved throughout the series, and with the characters that I completely loved by the end of the book, I finished at 4 in the morning and about died realizing I’ll have to wait a whole nother year to find out what happens next!!!! But like with book 1, I expect it will be worth the wait.(less)
This book is EXCELLENT! It reminded me of the tv show Supernatural, both with the demon fighting and the hilarious camaraderie between the characters....moreThis book is EXCELLENT! It reminded me of the tv show Supernatural, both with the demon fighting and the hilarious camaraderie between the characters. Bridget Liu might be doing some serious work vanquishing demons, but she’s always doing it with a witty quip on her tongue! Possess just hit the perfect note between dark and light tones, characterization, and some absolutely kick-ass storytelling. Love, love, love!!!(less)
This book was awesome. Like contemporary teen girl dramas, there’s a queen bee (quite literally in this case), a swirling flock of friends and frenemi...moreThis book was awesome. Like contemporary teen girl dramas, there’s a queen bee (quite literally in this case), a swirling flock of friends and frenemies, plenty of raging hormones, and secrets and lies at every turn. Except that in contemporary teen stories, much of this can be left behind as merely a scarring memory of high school. But in the world of Tudor drama, it can mean life or death.
I didn’t know much about the history of Catherine Howard, but I knew that being the wife of King Henry VIII was a tricky business. This novel, told from the point of view of Catherine’s best friend, Kitty Tylney, draws you in with the crazy drama and intimacies of girlhood friends and takes you to the court of the king himself. Kitty felt so real at every turn, her relationship with Catherine was so well defined, and the drama unfolded a perfect pace. I’m not one who reads much historical fiction, but this was a novel I couldn’t put down.(less)
This book was so much fun. I wasn’t sure at first if I’d connect with it because I’m not very much into football, but this book is all about the chara...moreThis book was so much fun. I wasn’t sure at first if I’d connect with it because I’m not very much into football, but this book is all about the characters, and I was hooked from page one. My favorite thing was how real all the characters felt. When Jordan is laughing and joking with her guy teammates, it feels so natural, like you’re getting an insider look of guys hanging out, being a mixture of raunchy and rude, funny and sweet. In some YA contemporary novels from a girl’s perspective, it’s like the guys in the novel are from another planet. So it was refreshing to watch Jordan be so at home with the guys and then super awkward with other girls her age.
So many other things I liked about this book: Jordan’s a girl player in a very guy-centered game, and the book manages to be subtly girl-power! without ever getting over-the-top about it. Jordan’s character growth is natural and engaging. And then there are some seriously swoon-worthy boys!
This book was just so real. Dramatic things happened without the writing getting all drama-y about it. Places where other authors would have been tempted to get preachy, Kenneally always keeps it real. This was an excellent, super satisfying read. (less)