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What In Carnation?

Forever Young Adult Presents: A review of Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

What In Carnation?

BOOK REPORT for Incarnate (Newsoul Book 1) by Jodi Meadows

Cover Story: Body Bag It, STAT!
BFF Charm: Maybe Later
Swoonworthy Scale: 8
Talky Talk: Easy Peasy
Bonus Factors: Reincarnation, Music, Evil Lisa Frank
Relationship Status: Surprise First Date

Cover Story: Body Bag It, STAT!

Dear lord, this COVER. There is NO WAY I'd be caught anywhere reading this book. The look on the model's face is about as vapid as it gets, like she's saying, "Wow, a butterfly just landed on my face? Like, oooooohhhh," and that doesn't fit the character at all. But my son loves the butterfly, and every time I picked the book up, he'd pull it out of my hands and ooh over it. So there you go -- an endorsement from an almost-2-year-old who's scared of Elmo.

The Deal:

On the night Ciana was born, the Temple went dark, and Ana was born. When the Council scanned Ana's soul, expecting to find Ciana, they were shocked -- no one knew Ana's soul. She was the first new soul born in Range in 5,000 years, where one million souls live in an endless cycle of reincarnation, and some are not convinced she even HAS a soul. Her father took off after Ana was born, unable to bear the humiliation, and she has been raised outside the city of Heart by Li, her vindictive, abusive mother. Now that she's 18, Ana is determined to go to Heart and find out the truth about her soul. Before Ana could even get close to Heart, she gets attacked and a hot, young guy saves her from drowning, and by the time they make it to the city, he's one of her only friends, since people don't trust someone who either has no soul, or whose soul took the place of someone they've known for five millennia. Will Ana find out why this happened, and if she will be reincarnated, or whether she has only one chance at life?

BFF Charm: Maybe Later

I'm not sure if I'm ready to give Ana my BFF charm. I understand where she's coming from -- she spent her whole childhood in isolation, being berated and abused by her mother, convinced she doesn't have a soul and therefore doesn't deserve anything. And it also has to be tough being the only person born without memories, and having to learn EVERYTHING from scratch -- not just reading and writing, but pesky things like walking and feeding herself -- when everyone around her is able to engineer complex electrical systems or build computers or paint masterpieces from birth, since they never lose their memories. But Ana's a little tough for me to get close to. I found her identification with short-lived butterflies tedious and forced after the first time, and she just KEPT ON WITH IT. She also ran hot and cold, and I don't have a lot of patience with sulks. But she could be sweet and brave and tenacious, and she's fiercely loyal -- all qualities I look for in a potential BFF -- so I'm not going to withhold my charm altogether, but I need a little more time with Ana to decide whether or not to bestow it.

Swoonworthy Scale: 8

It's rare I give a swoon rating above 7 for a book that barely makes it to second base, but the tension between Ana and Sam is delicious. I'm sure the inevitable "Eww he's so old and she's so young!" WTFers will be out in force on this one, and I'd usually agree. Maybe it's the fact that I can get my head around, say, a 200-year-old dude, but 5,000? It's just too much to comprehend. And it's not Ana's youth that's so appealing, it's the fact that she's NEW. The first new person in 5,000 years is bound to be an object of desire. I went to a really small university -- I know how claustrophobic social relationships can get. There are so many restrained almost-touches and almost-kisses, I was ready to invest in some asbestos pants.

Talky Talk: Easy Peasy

Meadows' gift for writing a kissing scene ensured I spent all day trying to sneak in some reading while half-playing with a demanding toddler, but luckily her writing is so simple, I didn't feel guilty whipping through the book in a day and a half without stopping to savor the prose. There were some parts of the universe that confused me, and I could do without the preteen names like Heart, but I'm hoping loose strands are picked up in the next book.

Bonus Factor: Reincarnation

Reincarnation is pretty cool -- who doesn't want a do-over? And to be able to remember everything EVER each time you're reborn would be totally rad ... for the first 35 lives or so. Then it might get boring, especially since you'd be with the same people FOREVER. Meadows set up a pretty cool architecture from which to hang the reincarnation concept (despite some really AWFUL names. Like Hunger Games and Blue Bloods had a baby), and I'm excited to explore it further in the sequel.

Bonus Factor: Music

Everyone has a gift; it's hard not to develop a specialty when you have lifetimes in which to hone it. Sam's is music, and it looks like Ana might have a gift for music, too. Their discussions made me want to dust off my piano keys start playing again.

Bonus Factor: Evil Lisa Frank

The scary creatures in this book are a 9-year-old girl's worst nightmare. Evil centaurs who wear human skin! Sylphs who burn people alive! Acid-spitting dragons! Ok, the dragons are pretty normal for dragons, but I'm waiting for killer dolphins in the next one, who lure swimmers out to sea and then kill them by sucking out their bones or something.

Casting Call:

Rachel Hurd Wood as Ana

Ana's kind of a fill-in-the-blank, but because of the red hair I'll go with Rachel Hurd Wood, since she might bring some depth to the character.

Henry Cavill as Sam

Relationship Status: Surprise First Date

I ignored this book for a while. The cover was a total turnoff, and I just didn't have time to get to it. Besides, I didn't really understand what it was talking about when I read the jacket. But my girlfriend kept begging me to go on a double date with her and her new guy, and this book was available and persistent, so I asked if it wanted to tag along. I figured there'd be safety in numbers, right? Even though it dressed kind of embarrassingly, and sometimes didn't quite make sense, something about the book captivated me and by the time we were halfway through dinner, I couldn't wait to sneak away with it and ditch the other half of our double date so we could have some quality alone time. It promised to call soon, and I can't wait to get to know it better.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from HarperCollins. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Incarnate will be available January 31.

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.