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INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows


From the Incarnate series, volume 1


Age Range: 13 & up

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-206075-4
Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

For thousands of years in Range, the same one million souls have been born, lived, died and been reborn. But when Ciana died, she wasn't reborn: Ana was born, for the first time.

Now 18, Ana is leaving the mother who hated her behind. When an encounter with the terrifying sylph drives her to leap off a cliff into a lake, she is certain that her new, young soul will soon be an expired one. Kindly Sam rescues her and takes her to the city of Heart, where she hopes to find answers to the questions of her origin. There, she must battle both the ingrained sense of low worth instilled by her hostile mother and the suspicions of the oldsouls. Never fear: Debut novelist Meadows gives musical prodigy Ana a mentor that is the society's most noted musician, the preternaturally wise, good and—oh yes, sexy—Sam. The basic concept is a fascinating one, but it gets muddled in delivery. Worldbuilding is particularly weak: Range is populated by both creatures of European mythology and regular North American animals, but the former seem to have been thrown in largely to be set dressing and a convenient threat. Perhaps all will be explained in subsequent volumes, to which this effectively serves as a 374-page prologue. Moreover, Ana's characterization is notably uneven (the emotional scars from her upbringing emerge when the plot needs them), and 21st-century colloquialisms sound sour notes against the trying-to-be-otherworldly setting.

Overall, a promising book that would have benefited from another draft or two. (Fantasy/romance. 13 & up)