This is one of my favorite shoujo mangas ever. I love how it challenges gender expectations and the romance is comp...moreStill loved it the second go round!
This is one of my favorite shoujo mangas ever. I love how it challenges gender expectations and the romance is completely adorable. If you’ve never read manga before, the strange, exaggerated mannerisms of the characters may throw you off, but trust me when I say nothing throws your feels around in a glitter machine on acid like a shoujo manga romance. The series does have a huge gap that might get you a little frustrated (side story lines and frustration at the main character), but the ending brought on the water works.
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One of the best manga series I've read. I'm not going to individually add all of the books (there are 23), but I've read them all and LOVED them. I plan to re-read these again. (less)
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...more 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 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 like so,
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.
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.