Diana Reviews: Jodi Meadow's - "Incarnate"
First of all, I have to comment on this book’s cover. I know a book shouldn’t be judged that way, but honestly, Incarnate’s cover, which depicts a particular part of the novel, is beautiful. Really, really beautiful. Congratulations to the artist for creating such a mesmerizing image.
Incarnate’s universe is a fantasy one, with dragons and sylph and other mythical creatures, and yet, there’s electricity and other amenities we have ourselves. It’s not typical of a world to have both, but this mix makes things interesting and imaginative.
Ana, the main character, is a newsoul—or a nosoul, as her biological mother, Li, calls her. She was born in someone else’s place, someone named Ciana, who was supposed to reincarnate when Ana was born, and the main character often feels as though she’s taken someone else’s place in the world. At eighteen, she sets out for the city of Heart to look for clues as to why she’s been born—but her mother gives her a bad compass and she gets lost, is attacked by Sylph and is rescued by a man named Sam.
The story revolves mainly around Sam and Ana but it’s intriguing enough and the mystery behind Ana’s existence is ever-present and only explained towards the end. The explanation makes sense, as far as that universe goes.
There’s also some theological debate around the story, about whether or not a god—Janan—exists, and what was his purpose in creating a world where people reincarnate over and over again. Another aspect I appreciated about the book is that, at one point, there’s a dance where people whose souls are partnered (for the lack of a better term) try to find each other among a crowd of disguised individuals. In this particular event, the two souls inhabit the bodies of two women.
I don’t know if it was the author’s intention to relay a message or not, but I enjoyed that, no matter what gender they were, those two individuals always kept going back to each other. The physical aspect of their relationship was unimportant. What really mattered to them was that they loved one another, nothing else. This is one of the truest, most endearing portrayals of love I’ve seen in a novel and I commend Jodi for doing it.
As far as character development goes, we see Ana’s growth throughout the book as she struggles to find out why she exists. Compared to all other characters, Ana is an infant, and it often shows. Everyone knows everyone else, except for Ana. In the world of Incarnate, she’s an unknown element, the only one there is. While some people like that about her, some are apprehensive and downright fearful and hostile. It’s this particular trait, coupled with the mystery behind her birth, that makes Ana so interesting: she’s a new possibility in the midst of a sea of certainty. The cast of supporting characters is also remarkable, especially because they’ve been around for so long. Through various lifetimes, they have been reincarnated in different genders, have been lovers and friends all through their past lives.
The romance—which, from the beginning, we know it’s going to happen—is sweet and, at the same time, lustful. There’s a need going on between Ana and her suitor and when they finally give in to it, it’s all you’ve been expecting, but leaves you wanting more all the same.
Writing-wise… there’s something beautiful about the way Jodi Meadows writes. Her prose is often lyrical, riddled with emotions and sensations that, as a reader, are easy to channel. I especially liked the way Ana felt about music and Jodi’s descriptions of the feeling a song evokes made it all even more believable.
If you’re looking for a romantic, haunting tale, and beautiful writing, then Incarnate is definitely for you.
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (31 Jan 2012)