Humans have been unsuccessfully seeking immortality from the beginning of time. There have been legends of the Holy Grail, the Alchemist’s Stone, the Fountain of Youth… even humanity’s idea of Heaven and the afterlife is a form of immortality. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, speaks from a different perspective. What if you could live forever, but you still had to die?
In the world Meadows has created, specifically the city of Heart–people can do just that. There are exactly one million people living in and around the city and all of them have existed in one body or another for the last 5,000 years. Lifetimes are spent seeking love, learning trades, and exploring the world. When you die, some time passes and you are reincarnated into a different body. Soul scanners are used on newborns to determine what old soul is in the new body. While you may have been someone’s brother in one life, you could very well be their mother in the next. Yep. Reincarnation even transcends gender. Some lovers even schedule their deaths so as to be reincarnated around the same time. Pretty interesting stuff.
Just when the residents of Heart are getting comfortable (and after 5,000 years who could blame them?) Ana is born and it shocks the world. When an old soul named Ciana hasn’t returned to a new body in over 20 years, everyone expects the new baby to contain her spirit. But it doesn’t. It contains Ana. A “newsoul” or, more offensively, a “nosoul.” Ana is immediately an outcast, and even her own mother Li doesn’t love her. So she decides to journey to Heart to find out the truth behind her mysterious background. There she finds love, danger, and intrigue. But all is not what it seems…
I really enjoyed this book. While it didn’t have the immediate, addictive pull of The Hunger Games it is by far one of the freshest concepts in YA Fiction I have read in a long time. With the old trend being witches and wizards, followed by vampires and werewolves, and–more currently–Distopian societies, it’s nice to see something new for a change. Meadows successfully blended a world where magic and science live together in harmony. There are inventions such as (laser guns and soul scanners) that represent the future, as well as those (like catapults and cobblestone roads) that represent the past. I liked that there are cars AND dragons–because everyone knows I’m a fan of urban fantasy!
Ana as a character was pretty well developed, and I look forward to seeing more personal growth from her in the next couple of books. Her love interest, Sam was also pretty well rounded. It was interesting to think of a world where in one life you might be a girl, the next a boy, and so on and so forth. You may pair up with the same lover every lifetime (talk about soul mates!) or find a new one each time. Your lover may be reincarnated the same sex as you are, or you might be reincarnated so far apart that you are a child and they are elderly. So strange.
I like books that make me think, and Incarnate definitely did.
What would you do, if you had more than one life to live?
4 butterflies of 5