Dear Fellow Raunchers,

It’s my pleasure to introduce the newest member to the posse (I have a posse now, byatches!), Miss Sassy Jack.  SJ is an avid reader, audiobook-phile, and cheesecake connoisseur.  She can also be found over at Restless Jackie.

I asked Sassy to read Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, a new YA book that’s been getting a lot of buzz. Without further ado, I present:

Review by: Rauncher on retainer, Sassy Jack

Incarnate tells the story of Ana, an outcast in the world of Range from the day she is born. Why? Because she’s new. You see, in Range and its nucleus, the city of Heart, there hasn’t been anyone new for thousands of years. Just the same million souls reincarnated and reborn over and over again, retaining the memories from their previous lives. When Ana makes her debut into this world, she is seen by most citizens of Heart as a nosoul, a pariah who stole someone else’s life and has no value of her own. Ana spends most of her life believing this herself… until she meets Sam, that is. Sam believes that Ana is more than just as nosoul, and he demonstrates this by risking his own life to help her discover the reason for her existence. Can Ana and Sam overcome the fear and suspicion of an entire world of souls? Or is their forbidden love doomed before it has even begun? And will they find the answers they so desperately seek before they are assassinated… or worse?

For her first novel, Jodi Meadows invents a universe so complex that she’s almost bitten off more than she can chew. She spends so much time laying down the mechanics and back-story of Range, that by the time we’re invested in the plot, it’s brought to a rushed close. When I reached the end of this 372-pager, I had almost as many questions as answers. It’s possible that this was an intentional effort by the author to leave open the possibility of a sequel or subsequent series. But honestly, it feels more like she just got tired of writing and ended up banging out a mediocre ending in as few pages as possible. On the other hand, her characters are solid, and I found myself drawn into the relationships and plot. I just wanted better plot development.

All that being said, I did actually enjoy reading this book. It was imaginative and surprisingly difficult to pigeonhole into one genre. Just when you think it’s your typical YA first-person self-pitying heroine-tries-to-find-her-place-in-the-world-but-finds-true-love-instead guilty pleasure fic, you find out that it’s actually fantasy. And just when you’re satisfied that it’s definitely fantasy, it takes a dip into science fiction. Is it a romance? Is it a quest adventure? Is it a puzzle thriller? It’s all of them! Example: One day while Ana is at the library doing research on her estranged father, who disappeared shortly after she was born, a flock of dragons attack the city, and the citizens subdue them with laser guns. (Really! Laser guns!) Sam is nearly killed by a spew of higly toxic dragon saliva (Really! Toxic dragon saliva!), and Ana rescues him with her quick thinking, and of course, her love. Later in the book, Ana comes face to face with Range’s sometime benevolent, sometime malevolent deity who, rather than give her some well-deserved answers, tries to trap her forever in a temple with no doors or windows. (Really.)

In conclusion, and all snark aside, Incarnate is an enjoyable read, if a bit overambitious. When the sequel comes out I would probably read it, if only to gain a bit more insight into what the heck was going on in this crazy world. I give it a B+ rating for concept and originality, but a C- for execution.

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, 384 pgs, 1/31/12

Rating: C+

Romance: 3/5                    Raunch: 0/5

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