Lyndsey's Reviews > Incarnate

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Rate this book
Clear rating

A gorgeous YA utopian tale! Nope, not dystopian. Do you know the difference?

This book blew me away with... a Masquerade Ball, reincarnation, slyph, dragons, music, souls, butterfly, slow burn romance, tension, laser pistols, massive library, war stories, dragon battles. Need I go on? I mean - Wow.

I read this in a flurry of addiction. I just couldn't get enough of the world and it's goings-ons. Completely entrancing.

The Rundown

Ana was born into a society of a million souls. A million souls who have known each other in various forms for thousands of years. They reincarnate into a new body every time they die. Except for when Ana was born. When Ana was born, they were expecting one of their own, someone named Ciana, who was now lost forever. Ana's mother hates her for taking the place of Ciana and is ashamed, so she moves her new baby outside the city and locks her away from all the others. Now, Ana is eighteen and on a quest to the city of Heart to find out about her birth and Ciana's disappearance. Will she find the answers she seeks?

The Writing

The author's prose has a very subtle lyricism, and the underlying message of this book seemed to be one of peace and hope for the future, which is a happy change from bleak and desolate outcomes of some recent dystopian fiction.

The main character, Ana, gets things done. The questions Ana posed to herself in her head were realistic and it was refreshing to have a character who asks questions and goes against the grain instead of settling for everyone-else-knows-best. The love interest, Sam, was complex, intriguing and a hottie!

The romance developed at a (GASP!) realistic pace, more so than most paranormal YA. It wasn't all "You looked at me like you LIKE me, so LETSBETOGETHERFOREVER!" I was afraid that it would feel cardboard or manufactured like some recent YA romances have. But it didn't. It felt natural and ended up being higher tension and surprisingly steamier than I had imagined for such a PG book.

Although few and far between, there were some unobtrusive religious, or possibly even anti-religious, undertones. The thing was that I couldn't tell. I couldn't see an agenda hidden behind the words and I appreciate that. These undertones were woven in delicately and did not overwhelm the world or the characters. It seemed to be more about raising the questions, instead of forcing an answer on you.

Should you believe in something you can't see? That's one of the questions it raises. Novels should be able to raise questions without imposing the author's answers onto on unsuspecting readers. Books should make you think and learn and discover the answers for yourselves. I felt this one did that pitch perfectly.

One complaint I do have, however, is the lack of dialog tags; oftentimes, it was necessary to reread passages over and over to figure out who was saying what. But that might just be my ADD talking. *sings* It's the FINAL COUNTDOWN. Doodoodoo. Wait, what was I saying...

The World-Building

A fresh and unique twist on the mythology of reincarnation. Finally! It is handled beautifully and seems intensely creative. But I want more! I'm so excited to learn more from the next books in the series.

In actuality, there are SO many interesting things you could do with this society. What if the same couple had been together for ten lifetimes but in the next, one just isn't attracted at ALL to the other. Oh, the scandal!

Even though I love the reincarnation concept used by Jodi Meadows, it still weirds me out a bit. Statistically someone who had been your lover in a past life could end up being your parent in the next....or vice versa. *shudder*

In general, I still have so many questions about the world-building. It was exciting and unique, but I wanted more details. More answers.

But I guess we don't know everything about even our favorite mythologies. Like what the hell are midichlorians (besides "bacteria") and how do they work? And WHY can't Darth Vader teleport? I mean, if the Weasley Twins can do it, why can't the original Dark Lord do it?

Regardless, I LOVED Incarnate. I inhaled it. This is definitely more of a 4.5, but it could have been a 5 if the ending had been more dynamic.

I was expecting something more emotionally heart-wrenching. Break my heart into pieces and then put them back together just in time for the last sentence. Give us a huge reveal, more answers, something epic, something shocking, something weep-worthy! However, it just didn't quite do that for me, but I'm hoping that the next books in the series will.

Keep in mind that this is a series. The story comes off at times as a mish mash of genres and ideas. So if you are for streamlined world-building and definitive answers, you might wait on this one. I'm hoping all is explained in the upcoming books but even I still have MANY questions.

I CANNOT WAIT to read the sequels.

Just look at this word cloud. How can a book with this word cloud NOT be awesome?

There's only one thing it needs: NINJAS! Because if I had lived for over 5000 years already, I would definitely have learned to be a ninja by now.

This review is also posted on my blog: Strangemore.
163 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Incarnate.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-50 of 51) (51 new)

message 1: by Nic (new) - added it

Nic Awesome review! I am really looking forward to reading this now :)

Aleeeeeza HOW DID YOU GET YOUR HANDS ON THIS ONE SO SOON? *dies from jealousy*

Aleeeeeza okay, yeah, that was a little overdramatic...but ahhh great review lindsey!

message 4: by Catie (new)

Catie Great review, Lyndsey! This whole premise sounds really intriguing.

Here's my uber nerdy contribution to your comments thread: I've always assumed that midichlorians are GL's little nod to mitochondria/chloroplasts.

message 5: by Jo (new)

Jo Love this review, Lyndsey! This book looks fantastic, don't think I've ever read anything like this before.
And.... what? No instalove?! Is that possible?!

Also, I adore the cover. covetcovetcovet.

I wish society would be more open to accept people who want to wear butterfly masks on the streets.

One day...

Steph Sinclair Great review!

Alexa "You looked at me like you LIKE me, so LETSBETOGETHERFOREVER!"

Very awesome review, Lyndsey! Sounds good; can't wait to get started. :)

Lyndsey Catie wrote: "Great review, Lyndsey! This whole premise sounds really intriguing.

Here's my uber nerdy contribution to your comments thread: I've always assumed that midichlorians are GL's little nod to mitoch..."

I like the way you think, Catie. I always thought from the name "midichlorians", that maybe it had something to do with chlorophyll and photosynthesis, like somehow they get their power from the sun. Then use it to emit strangely artificial sounding electronica music. (view spoiler)

Arlene Awesome review Lyndsey!! Can't wait to read this. Your post on utopia versus dystopia was really interesting too. I wasn't sure what to categorize Burn Bright, but i see your point. :)

message 10: by Catie (new)

Catie LOL

I guess I am not the only one who thinks that midichlorians/mitochondria have a connection. Check out this scholarly article.

Lyndsey Omg, Catie. Nerdgasm! It makes me so happy to read that.

Lyndsey And thanks, Arlene! I've been thinking about the dystopia/utopia thing for a while, because with more and more books coming onto the scene, it is getting even more difficult to distinguish the two. There is definitely a lot of crossover between these two specific sub genres, more so than any others, I think.

Flannery (this space would be filled with a back and forth of the completion of The Final Countdown) I'm glad you still have that stuck in your head.

This is definitely an intriguing review. I can't wait to get my hands on it. (view spoiler)

PS--did you see SYTYCD last night?

Lyndsey Yep. All I have to say is... It was about time. Oh and also, what are they thinking? (view spoiler)

Flannery Well I know you don't mean the beginning dance, because that was pretty cool. I also know you don't mind that (view spoiler) is gone. Perhaps you wanted (view spoiler) to go home.

But it might be a rare instance where I am off the mark because I fast-forwarded through most of it. (I always do with the results show) I really wanted Gaga to sing Judas or Born This Way instead of Edge of Glory--that one is so boring.

Lyndsey Yep. You got it exactly right. (view spoiler)

I know! And why didn't she bring Mark? EVERY time I've seen her lately, she has been dancing with him and now she comes to HIS show and doesn't even bring him. (view spoiler)

Flannery He was there! What were you smoking?

Lyndsey What? I didn't see him!! *runs to Tivo*

message 19: by Chichipio (new)

Chichipio Flannery wrote: "He was there! What were you smoking?"


Lyndsey wrote: "What? I didn't see him!! *runs to Tivo*"

I noticed that you conveniently avoided answering the question. Hmm…

And I'm sorry, even after this great review, I still must hate this book on principle. This author is brainwashing members of my species to do her bidding and I can't condone that. Check her profile:

About this author

Jodi thinks books are awesome, but sometimes lead to talking about oneself in third person.

I command a ferret army.

Lyndsey Chichipio wrote: "Flannery wrote: "He was there! What were you smoking?"


Lyndsey wrote: "What? I didn't see him!! *runs to Tivo*"

I noticed that you conveniently avoided answering the question. Hmm…

And I'..."

Who said she uses brainwashing? Maybe she is the pied piper of ferrets and all she needs is a pipe. We all know how much you love a good pipe, Chich.

(view spoiler)

message 21: by Chichipio (new)

Chichipio This is my new mental image of you:

(view spoiler)

Lyndsey !!!! I have that EXACT outfit, except I wear my nerd tie instead of the peace medallion. And my belt buckle has a Rebel Alliance symbol on it.

message 23: by Chichipio (new)

Chichipio Done. I adjusted it in no time. Oh, I also changed the peace sign for the Vulcan salute.

message 24: by Milly (new) - added it

Milly Love the word cloud! This sounds like a really interesting and entertaining read! Great review Lyn!!!

Lyndsey Thanks, Milly. I can't wait to see what all the Bookers think, too. Yays!

message 26: by ~Tina~ (new)

~Tina~ Dang! I need to read this!

Ezmirelda Great review! I really can't wait to read this. :)

Kat Kennedy That was a great review. However, point of contention: I would actually class this book as Dystopian.

I feel like the big government and evil figurehead are all covered here. I also felt that there was a sense of dissatisfaction in the way the society ran in the book.

And with the ending that it had, I have the feeling there's going to be increasing conflict and persecution in the books to come.

message 29: by Lyndsey (last edited Dec 12, 2011 02:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lyndsey Thanks! But I don't know, Kat. Dystopian fiction generally takes place in a heavily militarized culture. Military does not play into this book nearly enough for that. Also, Incarnate's society ran mostly on council with no real key tyrannical figure like Big Brother or President Snow.

Utopian books usually do have that sense of dissatisfaction as well because, let's be honest, with human beings there is no perfect society. The thing about utopian fiction is that from the outside looking in, or "in theory", there shouldn't be a dissatisfaction. The characters in Incarnate are essentially immortal, always have the opportunity to experience new lives, or live what they love over and over. It sounds like a perfect world. Even if it isn't, there is at least some guise of freedom.

That's a big difference from the dystopian worlds in 1984 or The Hunger Games. There is NO illusion of freedom in either of these worlds. They are cesspits and hellish places, where people are forced into submission with their actions and often even with their thoughts.

I think of this society as similar to one in The Giver. Take away all the pain in the world and people should be more satisfied with life, right? But still, someone discovered dissatisfaction even in that world.

Also, utopian fiction is often paired with fantasy, which both Incarnate and The Giver would be a good example of, because of fantasy's tendancies toward "council" like societies. Whereas dystopian is usually paired with science fiction, because it's heavy military and technology concentrated concepts work well with highly oppressive government story lines.

message 30: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Already one of my top few to-reads for 2012, but after reading your review I can't flipping wait!

Nancy Loved your review. Do you mind terribly that I am a new stalker? For a self proclaimed ADD, you were not nearly as random as I salad.

Me? A little.

Lyndsey Nancy wrote: "Loved your review. Do you mind terribly that I am a new stalker? For a self proclaimed ADD, you were not nearly as random as I salad.

Me? A little."

Hahaha! Not many people know this, but "I salad"s are the most random of ALL salads.

And you can stalk me anytime. We might even get some mutual stalking going on here. ;-)

message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

Wonderful review :D. This is one I'm very eager to discuss. I just don't even know where to start :/.

(view spoiler)

message 34: by Lyndsey (last edited Jan 11, 2012 11:56PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lyndsey Hey Ace - I definitely know what you mean. This book is cray-cray.

(view spoiler)

message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

(view spoiler)

Lyndsey (view spoiler)

message 37: by [deleted user] (new)

(view spoiler)

Lyndsey (view spoiler)

message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

(view spoiler)

Lyndsey (view spoiler)

message 41: by Rhiannon (new)

Rhiannon Concerning Message 29 and 30 by Kat and Lyndsey:

Hi! I'm going to butt in here, because I have already left a comment about this at the Strangemore blog about this...but I think that there are some confusing ideas of what is "Utopian" and "Dystopian" in that post that is linked to above.

And while I have not read this book yet (I always learn about great new YA from your reviews first, Lyndsey...) and I can't say whether it is dys/utopian, the guidelines you're using to determine whether it is are not precise enough. I don't want to be a pretentious jerkface - but, I had to learn all about this in school.

For instance, The Giver by Lois Lowry is most definitely a dystopian work of fiction.

message 42: by Rhiannon (last edited Jan 12, 2012 08:02AM) (new)

Rhiannon Utopian fiction: wholly, un-ironically imagines an idealized society. the author defends the society and believes in it.

Dystopian fiction: heavily criticizes an idealized society, or at least one aspect of it.

message 43: by Rhiannon (new)

Rhiannon Message 30: "Utopian books usually do have that sense of dissatisfaction as well because, let's be honest, with human beings there is no perfect society."

"There is no perfect society..." True - "Utopia" translated means "no place." But, real "utopian" works should not ever have a "sense of dissatisfaction." If there is one, question it.

message 44: by Rhiannon (new)

Rhiannon You are using a good example of a dystopia with the heavily militarized police-state government of Brave New World. But, oppressive government and military are not criteria for dystopia, and are used by Orwell to embody one kind of a dystopia.

In Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (one of the first dystopic works of fiction) it is not government or military that does the "oppressing" but mass-consumerism, technology, drug/pharmaceutical use. People view themselves as being "free!" but they are actually trapped into a highly-unsatisfying lifestyle. This is not an ideal.

In both instances, an "idealized state" is purported, (for Orwell, totalitarian socialism; for Huxley unimpeded liberaterianism), but ultimately both are criticized by the authors, who see them as "anti-Utopian" or "dystopian" states.

I'll shut up now. :-)

Lyndsey There are definitely other ways that a dystopian society can be employed besides using a militarized government, but my intention was not to provide a comprehensive list of all types of dystopian societies. A large majority of them do employ the use of military, but there can certainly be other types like you mentioned in Brave New World (which I have yet to read).

As for the utopian/dystopian argument, there may not be a perfect way to define the differences between books like 1984 and something like Incarnate or The Giver. However, I feel because of the drastic contrast in the method of storytelling, there should be a separation between the two types of stories. The post above is really just to illustrate that separation.

message 46: by Rhiannon (new)

Rhiannon Hey Lyndsey, you're totally right - I don't think it should be necessary to give an endless list of "criteria" for dystopian books. I think the only criteria is that they are critical of the "utopic" world the author writes about.

So, for you - dystopian literature has essentially a "nightmarish" vision, like Brave New World or Hunger Games, and a more subtle version, like The Giver, where everyone appears to be "happy." That makes sense to me!

But, none of those authors (by means of tone/content) advocates the visions they created. The reader "sees through them," they're dangerous - which makes them critical of the "utopia" presented, therefore they are "anti-Utopia."

Since I have not read any straight-Utopian novels, when I think of Utopia - I think of something like The United Federation Of Planets from Star Trek. (Sorry, so nerdy!) The creators of Star Trek obviously see The Federation as an "ideal" - no money, no poverty, most disease is eradicated, everyone has equal access to blah, blah, blah. And those within the Federation are "enlightened," which the viewer also agrees with (for the most part, although some fans would argue with me here!).

Like, throughout TNG, they use the character of "Q" to constantly reinforce that what The Federation has going on is pretty much the "ideal" for the human(oid) race. You know? Utopia.

Lyndsey I definitely see a clear line between the two different types. You're right that they all criticize some aspect of the "utopia." But there is definitely a lot more to criticize in some. I wonder if the society in 1984 has any redeeming qualities. At least in books like The Giver, the society seems to have been founded on a true hope for a better life, and not out of a desperation for control and manipulation.

You never have to apologize for nerdiness around me. :-) And if any utopia ever existed, it would HAVE to be Star Trek, right? I would most definitely rather live in the world of The Federation than in Thomas More's idea of a utopia. That's for sure.

Oh and every time I see the actor who played Q (I recently saw him on a commercial or preview), I yell out, "It's Q!" It's a compulsion. People probably think I'm crazy.

message 48: by Rhiannon (new)

Rhiannon But there is definitely a lot more to criticize in some...

Definitely! There's nothing good about the 1984 times... I think the idea was originally the people (before the book begins) had a revolution - yay socialism! "the greater good" - then it went horribly, horribly wrong because the State ran everything, which is what the people originally thought they wanted.

And - yes! I would much rather live under The United Federation Of Planets than anywhere else. I mean, as long as I got to be on a Starship. OMG - I just saw Q, too, on TV recently and I forget where! I did the same thing, "Q!"

message 49: by Azra (new) - rated it 5 stars

Azra ninjas? that's ridicul- wait. you are totally right. I agree, but I suppose the whole dragon thing will satisfy me for now.

Livia I read this book last year and really like it. I just started reading Asunder and needed a refresher on what went down in Incarnate. Thanks for your review and the interesting follow up discussion on dystopian vs. utopian and seeing Q in commercials. :)

« previous 1
back to top