Michelle's Reviews > Incarnate

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
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May 16, 12

Read from May 10 to 16, 2012

I hesitate to call this a book that falls under the Pretty Cover Trap because I do think it's a book that other people will love even though I didn't, and to be fair, who am I to tell other people whether they will or will not like a book? Still, I was disappointed by Incarnate, and I don't think I'll be eager to see where the story heads next in the sequel, which is a pity because that cover really is pretty darn lovely.

My major problem with the book was the structure of it. From the premise, I'd assumed it'd be like most YA books in this genre. Someone different from the norm in this futuristic society has to find out who they are and what their purpose is, with the added bonus of a suddenly lovey-dovey relationship with an attractive boy and random bad things that have just started to happen now in the society. I sort of got that out of the story, but not really. The beginning of the story just dumps us right into this world of reincarnation and a seemingly utopian society with barely any explanation at all other than Ana exists because one soul was not reincarnated, and as a result, she's an outcast who is physically and emotionally abused by her caretaker/mother, Li. And by a few pages in, Ana is leaving the only home she's ever known to go to the main city of Heart, in hopes of discovering why she replaced someone else's soul. But then, Ana meets Sam and instead of following through with the plot of focusing on why Ana exists and whether or not she'll be reincarnated and blah-blah-blah, we get a good two-hundred pages of relationship development between Ana and Sam, with a few hints toward that initial plot. In a genre where insta-love reigns supreme, I was more than happy to see a gradual relationship develop between Ana and Sam (as well as a focus on the fact that he's technically thousands of years older than her even though they are both teenagers at the present, and both are concerned of how that will look to the society and if they can overcome that boundary between them). But the problem is, that relationship build-up became the focus of the entire book. By the time we got back to dragons and slyph attacking the city and some answers as to what happened when Ciana died and Ana was born in her place, there were only about 50 pages left in the book. And by that point, I didn't really care why Ana was born. I didn't care if Ana and Sam ended up together. I just wanted the book to be done so I could move on to reading something else because my attention just wasn't captivated anymore.

That's not to say Meadows is a bad writer because she's not. I liked Ana as a character (and Sam, too), and as I said, I liked that we saw their relationship develop gradually and realistically. For a while, I did care about these characters and what happened to them, and I appreciated that a majority of the book focused on the idea of accepting who you are, even if you can't change it. But a love story isn't what I expected to be the focus of the book, and this is coming from someone who usually loves to read books about falling in love. I feel like the relationship between Ana and Sam was meant to be a sub-plot but somewhere in there it turned into the main plot and Ana's determination to discover who she is became the sub-plot instead (almost like how Ana took another soul's place in the society, right!).

Another thing that bugged me is the lack of development of this whole world in general. It was pretty much an anything goes kind of deal. Like, you can be reborn as a woman or a man, so I guess the entire population is just bisexual by default? Especially since there are re-dedications for two people who love each other so much that they pledge themselves to each other in each of their lifetimes. But that didn't really make sense to me because, I dunno, I just can't imagine a world where everyone is okay with being bisexual? Or was it just, you know, since you're a girl in this lifetime, okay, you dig boys now. But you're still you as a soul, so why would your sexuality change just because your body did? So, that kinda threw me a bit. And you know, someone who was your lover in one lifetime may be your mom or dad in the next (can we say, awkward?), and that just seems creepy to me that people are cool with that. And don't even get me started on their "god" Janan who may or may not be real (and may or may not be a douchebag if he is because he supposedly tells Ana she's a mistake and come on, that's just rude), and this crazy heartbeat/breathing Temple thing that is apparently Janan, like I guess we're supposed to believe he IS the Temple since apparently the Temple is what causes the reincarnation. It was just all very mind-blowing and confusing and not-not explained but just not explained well. For example, the dragons and slyph. We get no explanation about how they are there. They just are, and we have to accept that. Just like we have to accept that these people stumbled upon Heart and the Temple one day and it was all there ready for them, so they just moved right in and we're like, "Hey, look, guys! We're being reincarnated, hooray!" But we don't know where they came from originally or anything really about Heart's or anyone else's history (apart from Sam's and Menehem's to a point), despite the fact that these people have been alive for thousands of years.

And then, after this slow slow slow relationship development, we finally get slammed in the face with the main plot again with just about 50-70 pages to go in the story and suddenly Ana's in the Temple and Janan is talking to her but then someone "poisons" him while dragons and slyph are all attacking the city and anyone who dies that night is never coming back and that's what happened when Ana was born and oh, we still don't know if she'll be reincarnated. And everything's just happening at whirlwind speed now, so you better keep up. And I think the only reason why these dragons are attacking is because it's convenient since Sam is super afraid of dragons and that's supposed to make it more dramatic since they apparently have it out for him or something (another plot point that isn't explained at all and I'm not sure if that's because in a second book will find out that someone intentionally controls the dragons and makes them hone in on killing Sam repeatedly or what), though we don't even get to see him confront one of the dragons, we just see Ana find him all concussed and beat-up and then they all get better and I'm still left with lots of question marks, but Ana gets to rewrite her piano composition with Sam, so I guess all's well that ends well, right?

Overall, I dunno, I was just disappointed by this book. If you want to read about a relationship building up in a random society that just happens to have reincarnation, go for it. But if you're hoping for more of an engaging plot than that, I'd stay away because it won't be satisfying or make much sense, in my opinion.
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Reading Progress

11/22/2011 page 30
8.0%
12/12/2011 page 66
17.0% "I feel like nothing is happening in this book."
05/10/2012 page 118
32.0% 7 comments
05/15/2012 page 194
52.0% "Seriously though, for as much as I like this gradual relationship development over insta-love, can I have some plot, please? Like, I dunno, wasn't Ana determined to find out how she exists and all we've done for half a book is just mention that in passing a few times?" 2 comments
05/15/2012 page 304
81.0% "Oh shit, is this a plot I spy?" 4 comments

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Lexie Sigh. I'm reading this one after I finish Vampire Academy. I hope I like it more than you do, but I suspect my feelings will echo yours. A developed romance is lovely and all, but not when it completely overshadows the plot.


Michelle Lexie wrote: "Sigh. I'm reading this one after I finish Vampire Academy. I hope I like it more than you do, but I suspect my feelings will echo yours. A developed romance is lovely and all, but not when it co..."

I hope you like it! My copy WAS just an ARC copy, so maybe the finished copy is better, but I dunno.


Lexie Michelle wrote: "Lexie wrote: "Sigh. I'm reading this one after I finish Vampire Academy. I hope I like it more than you do, but I suspect my feelings will echo yours. A developed romance is lovely and all, but ..."

Maybe! But ARCs rarely differ THAT much from the final copy. Ah, well. We shall see.


Michelle Okay so this is the summary for book two: "In this second book in the Incarnate trilogy, Ana discovers the truth about reincarnation and will have to find a way to embrace love and make her young life meaningful."

LIKE, WAS THAT NOT SUPPOSED TO BE THE POINT OF THIS BOOK? I sense a repeat performance coming on. :/


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