Arlene's Reviews > Incarnate

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
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Jul 18, 2011

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bookshelves: arc, read-2011, young-adult
Recommended to Arlene by: Street Corner Booker - ARC Tour Lyndsey
Read from August 14 to 18, 2011

Overall, I have mixed feelings about Incarnate by Jodi Meadows. There were definitely aspects of the story I found creative and the narrative flowed quite well, but I think Meadows’s take on reincarnation was difficult for me to embrace. Putting it frankly, it goes against my belief system and at times I did feel Meadows was pushing some sort of agenda that I wasn’t quite willing to accept.

Now, I don’t know if I would classify this story as YA Utopian . To me, there were elements of the story that made it feel like YA Fantasy, where the people are perpetually incarnated into a world where dragons, centaurs, griffins, and sylph fire are trying to kill them. Once those creatures are introduced, it feels like Fantasy to me. But, then you have the whole concept of reincarnation and a society of souls that have been recycled hundreds of times over, which in the end just left me a bit baffled. So, it’s a hybrid in my mind and I’m not tying it to any particular genre for now.

Now, about the story. In this book, we meet Ana who is a new-soul, or as her mother would describe her, a no-soul. Prior to her birth, there were a million souls that have been reincarnated, but in the year of the Song, the temple goes dark, a soul is lost and Ana is born with a new-soul. Ana is cast out at the age of eighteen and meets Sam, who is willing to accept her for what she is. However, Ana’s journey to discover why she is not a reincarnate is not without its trials as the people of Heart can’t seem to let go of the fact that Ana might just be the first of a new generation of new-souls and they are seeing the end of their perpetual existence..

So here’s what I had a difficult time grasping. First, if humans, as intelligent life forms that have reincarnated for the past millennium, are able to fall back on their knowledge of their previous lives, why have they not been able to dominate over the creatures that are trying to destroy them. For example, there is the case of Sam who has seen his demise at the dragon’s hand thirty times over. I didn’t quite understand how the people of Heart have not been able to somehow defend themselves against these creatures and protect their domain.

Then there was the concept of how the people of Heart reincarnate. Again, let’s take Sam for example. In one life he can come into existence as a male, but maybe for the next three or four lives, he will reincarnate as a female. So I had to wonder, what his is dominant gender? If he loves Ana in this lifetime and reincarnate as a woman in the next, how will that love translate? To me it made the relationship between Ana and Sam confusing and awkward, especially since Ana was grappling with this confusion as well and I don’t feel it was ever really properly addressed.

What bothered me the most though was the relationship been Ana and Li.. Now, I’ve read enough fiction to have come across some pretty shitty parents, but it never gets easier for me. In this book though, I couldn’t fathom how a mother would treat her daughter so poorly because she was not a reincarnate of her previous friend. There was no motherly instinct what-so-ever and frankly it bothered me that Li along with several other reincarnates exhibited this entitlement to another life, thus making me feel they didn’t fully appreciate the here and now because heck they’ll get a re-do card, so what’s the point? Overall, I felt no connection or compassion for any of the characters in this book, including Ana to some degree for other reasons I won't go into.

Lastly, I felt the ending was a bit rushed and not much was offered to hook me into the series. But in the end, I’ll give it three stars for an ambitious attempt that did have me slightly entertained and constantly grappling with the concepts that were introduced.

Thank you so much Lyndsey for touring this book! It’s off to the next Booker. :)
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Reading Progress

08/16 page 70
18.0% "Now this is a Sam I can like. :)" 6 comments
01/25 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-27 of 27) (27 new)

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Alexa OMG I had a dream last night that you hated you! You didn't even want to finish it & you gave it 1 star. x.x;;;

So...I really hope you enjoy it! lol

Arlene LMAO Alexa!! Well, I'm on page 32 and so far not h8ing it at all. You should know by now we have pretty similar tastes. I hope I get most of it done by tonight, but either way, I'll have to put it aside for Jellicoe. You rec'ed that book to me over a year ago and there's no way I'm missing our book date. :P

I'm using your postcard as a bookmark for Incarnate BTW. :D

Alexa Can't wait to know what you think of this book! :D
Did I mention I'm really happy that you're finally going to read JR? XD hehe (I'm also nervous, but trying not think about it! lol)

Hope you liked the postcard! :) I wanted to send it separately, but I was worried it wouldn't make it because the card didn't feel sturdy. o.o;

Arlene Now I want to just go home and read. Don't do this to me!! :P

I'm pretty excited about JR too. Sorry it's taken me so long, but I feel a little better knowing I preordered Froi and we only have to wait until October, so it's not like it'll be too long before I have another Marchetta book to look forward to. You have no need to worry, I've loved all of MM books. :)

I didn't notice there was a postcard in the book until I was ready to read it and I took the bubble wrap off. I love finding surprises like that. Thanks so much!

Okay, so I'll read more of Incarnate today and start JR with you tomorrow. :D

message 5: by ~Tina~ (new)

~Tina~ JR?

You guys are making me curious.

Stop that!

lol :p

Arlene LOL Tina! Jellicoe Road. You should know that! :)

message 7: by ~Tina~ (new)

~Tina~ Ohhhhhhhhhh JR.


Arlene LOL Tina! :)

message 9: by Amber (new) - added it

Amber Great honest review! It sounds...odd. Hmmm.

Arlene Thank you Amber... Yes it's... unique. :)

message 11: by Lora (new)

Lora I don't believe in reincarnation, so the subject is touchy for me. I don't mind reading about it, but it almost never works for me in books. I'll probably skip this.

Great review, Arlene:)

Lyndsey Arlene, I had questions about the world-building also but the imagery is what really grabbed me about the story. I still can't stop thinking about Heart and the temple.

The way that I explained Li's craziness to myself is similar to how the Fae in the Fever series go insane from living for so long and having so many memories. But yeah, it is a little baffling how she could be SO awful.

message 13: by ~Tina~ (last edited Aug 19, 2011 10:47AM) (new)

~Tina~ Hmm, I'm not sure about this one now. Do you think I'd like this Arlene? We usually have the same taste in books. Great thought out review btw:) Loved it!

message 14: by Vi (new) - added it

Vi Vi Good review. the book sounds a little fuddled in terms of the worldbuilding. I'd like to read it for myself to see just what's going on though. I mean is this a straight up fantasy world or is Heart supposed to be some fictional American city?

Also: "Again, let’s take Sam for example. In one life he can come into existence as a male, but maybe for the next three or four lives, he will reincarnate as a female. So I had to wonder, what his is dominant gender? If he loves Ana in this lifetime and reincarnate as a woman in the next, how will that love translate? "

...He'd be a lesbian?......why is that confusing?

message 15: by Arlene (last edited Aug 19, 2011 02:02PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Arlene @ Lora. I don't want to offend anyone's beliefs, but I don't believe in reincarnation either. I find it funny that I can embrace a 200 year old vamp!re, but something that can quite possibly exist in some form or fashion, I'm like.. nope, can do it.

@ Lyndsey. No doubt the world buidling was pretty solid and the imagery can have you go on a fun mental adventure. I like how you explianed Li's craziness. I just don't like wicked mothers and in many cases for the other characters it didn't feel like a parental bonding was possible because everyone was "friends". I think Meadows should be applauded for her attempt. She didn't take the cookie-cutter route of love triangles, paranorm creatures. If anything she attempted a risky tale. So hats off to her for that.

@ Tina. I don't know. I really don't. You have to remember that I just came off the high of On the Jellicoe Road, so I'm wondering if that played a factor into my liking this book. It does have that fantastical element that I beleive you enjoy. There could be so many reasons why it wasn't a complete hit for me. Also, keep in mind Alexa gave it 4.5 stars, so it could be my crappy week, emotional hang over Jellicoe... I'm rambling.. sorry. :( I just don't want you to discount something you might possibly love.

Arlene Vi wrote: "...He'd be a lesbian?......why is that confusing? "

That's not the confusing part. I just don't know where that leaves Ana. She falls in love with Sam, so where does that leave her? That's the part that became confusing/awkward for me because the book was told in Ana's perspective and she was struggling with that, so I didn't know how to feel for her. I'm sorry if I didn't explain myself clearly.

Arlene Vi wrote: "I mean is this a straight up fantasy world or is Heart supposed to be some fictional American city?"

Definitely not an American city, so I would assume some fantasty place and time.

message 18: by ~Tina~ (new)

~Tina~ Thanks Arlene, I'm last on tour so I'll keep my eye out on the other Bookers reviews. The story sounds intriguing, but I'm a little undecided.

Arlene Sounds good. I'm sure you'll get a better feel if it's for you when the other Bookers post their reviews. The main reason I'm hesitant to say yes or no is because of Lyndsey and Alexa's rating.

message 20: by Nic (new) - added it

Nic Great review Arlene! This sounds very unique and I love unique. So despite your mixed review I am still excited to read this :)

Arlene Thank you Nic! I hope you enjoy it! And yes, unique is the right word to describe this book. :)

Alexa This is a really great review, Arlene. I completely get where you're coming from. I couldn't wrap my head around the reincarnation at first. Then I realized that sometimes...I can't even wrap my head around my own beliefs either. It's mind-boggling at times. I guess thinking of it that way helped me to accept & just go with how reincarnation worked in Incarnate. There's definitely seems to be more to it, and with what we got in the book, I thought it was pretty interesting. Very original and unique story. That's one of the reason why I liked it. Plus, I really liked Ana and Sam! XD Li...not so much. 100% agree with you about Li! I wanted to smack her...him. haha :P Anyway, I'm sorry it didn't work for you, but I'm glad you at least finished it...unlike what you did in my dream! LOL :D

Btw, I think you're right about JR! ;)

message 23: by Crystal (new) - added it

Crystal Awesome review! Hmm I am not sure about this one now...

Arlene Thank you Alexa. Yes, this book is definitely orginal and unique, which is why I feel the author deserve applause for that. I like Sam and Ana at first and then little things started to get to me. Like Sam keeping secrets from Ana and Ana being so defensive all the time. Grant it, there were reasons for the way they acted, but I was still slightly irked. LOL about Li. I did NOT like him/her at all! It was easy enough to finish because I think the writing is good. LOL about your dream. So sorry I didn't like it as much as you did, but I definitely did not h8 it like I did in your dream. :P JR is my brand of book. XD

Thanks Crystal! You might want to wait to see what the other Bookers think. I could just be me. :/

message 25: by Mary (new)

Mary Yeah it's a diff. belief system for me too but I can't tell you how disappointed i was. the book had so much promise. i read it at the library.

Arlene Sorry you didn't care for it either Mary. Maybe the next book will be better for you. :)

message 27: by Mary (new)

Mary Sure hope so:) And to you as well:) GREAT review by the way:)

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