Review: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Rating: 3 stars
Pub Date: January 31, 2012
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (an imprint of HarperCollins Children's)
Genre: young adult, dystopian, romance, fantasy
Format/Source: Hardcover, borrowed from the library
Status: Book 1 of the Newsoul trilogy

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 live only 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?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

One of the most unique aspects of Incarnate is that it is actually a utopian novel, rather than dystopian. I have to give all credit to Meadows. I think in the current state of ya fiction, it's incredibly easy to write about a broken and corrupt society, but Meadows chose to feature a society that really is very well-run. If it weren't for Ana
(and the events that led to her birth and the people that created those circumstances), the citizens of Heart would stay in a state of happiness and peace forever. There aren't a lot of cracks to this society, which is definitely a unique point of view in the face of dystopian giants like The Hunger Games, Delirium,Divergent, Under the Never Sky, etc.

Meadows portrayal of love is absolutely one of my favorite facets of Incarnate. In a world where there are only 5,000 citizens who reincarnate after death, genetics has to be carefully studied. Couples are torn apart by untimely deaths, uncertain birth (you must wait for a couple to become pregnant to be reincarnated or perhaps a couple cannot become pregnant until there is a need--chicken or the egg argument is definitely applicable here), and age. Meadows addresses the issues of suicide--when one couple dies, occasionally the partner chooses to die as well; age--when one does not choose suicide, how long should they wait while their partner is born and grows before they may restart a romantic relationship; and homosexuality--each soul is not able to choose his or her body upon reincarnation. Meadows's depiction of love and marriage does not match up with my personal beliefs, but that's what makes her portrayal so intriguing to me. And anyway, who said you have to agree with everything in a novel to like it?!

I do hope that Asunder delves deeper into characterization because I don't find the characters as well-rounded as I would like. I have great hope that the events during the climax and end of Incarnate will help achieve this because, as the saying goes, everything has changed going into Asunder.

All in all, Incarnate gets three stars from me for being fresh and unique. I greatly anticipate the sequel, though I'll definitely have to re-read Incarnate to refresh.

Recommended for: Readers who like new worlds, utopia/dystopia, sci-fi/fantasy
Not recommended for: Readers who prefer lots of characterization, readers who don't like the new-kid-at-school kind of archetype

Book Links:

About the Author:
Jodi Meadows lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut.

*A Kippy is a cat.
Author Links:


  1. Great review! I agree withthe utpoian thing although I never thought of it:)

    1. I read a great post somewhere on the differences between dystopian and utopian. I thought it was great how Meadows chose to do something in the genre, but still really different.

  2. I have to disagree that Incarnate is depicting a utopian society. The status quo in the society is so ingrained that it doesn't allow for people to change and develop so while it looks utopian initially, if you delve deeper it is actually dystopian. It reminds me of the book "A Brave New World" by Alduous Huxley where an outsider comes in and shakes up this supposedly utopian society. I think in the future books, the cracks in the society are going to show up more and more as Ana and hopefully other new souls question the status quo. Not to mention, the society allowed Ana to be emotionally and physically abused for years by her mother with no intervention which is not exactly a utopian sort of thing to do.

    1. Very good point, Lacy. I still think Heart is more utopian, but I will agree that Ana's presence in society unveiled previously hidden cracks. The introduction of newsouls in the upcoming books really will flip the status quo and a truly distopian feel will become apparent. I also agree that most supposed "good" societies depicted in ya fiction such as those in Hunger Games, Delirium, Divergent, XVI, etc, have those deep cracks, I'm still not entirely convinced that Heart and the community presented in Incarnate is strictly dysfunctional and distopian. My definition of a utopia is not a perfect society where everything goes well all the time but rather a community that truly works well and its citizens are content but not a blind contentment, if that makes sense.

  3. I just bought this so hopefully I will love it! I do enjoy dystopian and sci-fi so I'm hopeful!

  4. I have been considering reading this one! I do usually prefer lots of characterization, but I might still try this one.
    Great review!

  5. This book sounds interesting, I might have to pick it up soon!