Debut novel fails to take flight


Katie Linkner

“Incarnate,” Jodi Meadows’ debut novel, unfortunately falls flat due to inexperienced writing. The novel is about a girl named Ana who is the first “New Soul” to be born for thousands of years in the fantasy world in which she lives.

Sophia Bender, Staff Writer

Looking for a book with strong, well-developed characters and an intricately designed fantasy world? Well, “Incarnate” is the wrong place to look.

“Incarnate” is author Jodi Meadows’ first novel in the her “New Soul” trilogy, as well as her first novel ever. Her inexperience shows and greatly takes away from the awesome concept she created.

“Incarnate” is about a world in which exactly one million people live. Whenever one person dies, that person is soon reincarnated back into the society by birth again. The same million souls have been living in the city of Heart and the area surrounding it for thousands of years. That all ends when resident New Soul, Ana, is born.

When Ana was born, all of the other people thought that she would be a reincarnation of a recently deceased soul named Ciana. Instead, Ana seems to have replaced her, thus tipping everything they thought they knew. Many people, including Ana’s own mother (and previous best friend of Ciana), are hateful toward Ana for replacing Ciana. Ana grows up in a world where she doesn’t seem to belong and has to learn everything for the first time, with no help from anyone.

The story begins when Ana turns 18 and leaves her home, a remote cottage, to travel to the city of Heart. She hopes to learn why she exists and find her purpose there. Instead, she meets Sam, an “old soul” who really doesn’t care that Ana replaced Ciana. He takes her in and helps her figure out who she is while romance blossoms between them.

Ana is escaping her mother and finding out who she is, but that train gets derailed by the romance with Sam.

— Staff Writer Sophia Bender

Sounds interesting, right? Except for the fact that nothing is explained, ever. Not why people reincarnate (or why they don’t), if Ana will reincarnate when she dies, or anything else about the world that was created. The reader is left with more questions than answers.

Usually, loose ends make for a great sequel, but that isn’t the case with “Incarnate.” The plot and characters that should be the hook for reading a sequel aren’t enough.

Ana falls flat as an underdeveloped character who isn’t self reliant in the slightest. She acts like a mewling kitten for a large portion of the book — weak, helpless, and silly, not only in her actions but with her inner dialogue as well.

Other characters are just as two-dimensional, an easy pit to fall into when the story is told from a first-person point of view. However, when coupled with Ana’s self-centered personality, readers are left knowing next to nothing about the other characters and their motivations.

The romance between Sam and Ana is just as terrible. It seems very forced and almost silly, while being given no idea what Sam wants or is thinking at all. Additionally, Ana talks about the whole relationship like a giggling school girl — she is very immature and doesn’t know how to handle it at all. The characters aren’t the only thing negatively affected by Meadows’ inexperience, however.

The plot isn’t terrible, it’s nonexistent. First, Ana is escaping her mother and finding out who she is, but that train gets derailed by the romance with Sam. Each new development in the story  takes away from the initial plot instead of adding to it. By the end of the book, I was left asking, “What just happened?”

“Incarnate” being Meadows’ first book explains a lot of the faults in her writing. Some of her more recent works, and even later books in the New Soul trilogy, are written far better than “Incarnate.”

If unique world building is what you’re looking for, you’re better of reading Tolkien or Rowling. Don’t waste your time trying to swallow Jodi Meadows’ first book.