Synopsis: Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.
Even Ana's own mother thinks she's a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she'll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city is Ana to blame?
Sam believes Ana's new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may only live once, and will Ana's enemies - human and creature alike - let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else's life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?
First, what I liked about Incarnate:
The world-building is very well done and original. I liked how Meadows combined Science Fiction and Fantasy into creating the high-tech world of Range, with old-school fantasy creatures like dragons and centaurs thrown into the mix. It can be difficult to weave these two genres together without it becoming too weird and unbelievable but Meadows pulls it off. And I give automatic bonus points to any book that has dragons in it.
I thought the mythology of the world was intriguing. There is a god, Janen, that supposedly created all of the souls and he lives in the temple at the center of Heart. Not everyone believes he exists though, and if they do, they are unsure if he is benevolent or not.
Another thing I like? The cover. That cover is exquisite.
Now here are a couple of things I had issues with:
The characters, in particular Ana. I am getting a little tired of YA novels with female protagonists who are insecure, weak, and boring. Ana does not really have a distinguishing personality. Could this be the result of her being a Newsoul? Maybe, but I should still be able to see something in her that sets her apart. She is desperate to find out who she is and why she was born...at first. But then she meets Sam and that whole bit of discovering who she is kind of fades into the background.
Sam is another disappointing character. He is supposed to be the Love Interest and yet there is nothing very interesting about him at all. To be perfectly honest, none of the characters are very interesting. Not the main characters, not the villains, not the secondary characters. I couldn't even distinguish between some of the supporting characters! Ana's supposed 'friends' Whit and Orrin and Sarit? Who the hell are they?
The romance between Sam and Ana felt rushed and unnatural. There is no real build up of romantic tension so when (Spoiler Alert!) Sam and Ana kiss for the first time it's just kind of like 'Meh, saw that coming. Can we get some dragons up in here, please?'
The writing, while at times lyrical, is often repetitive. Isn't there a more elegant way of describing someone falling to the ground then Ana saying 'I fell on my butt.'? I'm pretty sure this phrase makes an appearance at least three times throughout the book.
Even though this book is not without its problems, I (mostly) liked it and will continue on and read the other two books in the series.