Yesterday I finished reading Incarnate by Jodi Meadows. The novel came out at the end of January this year, and I had read so many adoring reviews of it that I simply had to buy myself a copy. And my high expectations were more than met.
Incarnate takes place in the world of Range, where the same million souls have existed and were reborn for five thousand years, keeping their memories from all their past lives. Babies born remember being adults, remember dying many times over. There aren’t really children in Range. Not in the playful, exploratory meaning of childhood. And everybody in Range knows everybody else. There is no mystery to who people are and little room for personal development and growth.
One day, however, one of these souls fails to reincarnate, and Ana is born. Ana longs to find out why she was born and whether she will be reincarnated. The only eighteen year old in a world where people carry the experiences and knowledge of thousands of years, Ana is a breath of fresh air, a girl with a new outlook, new questions, new ideas. And as such she is also a danger.
After eighteen years of living with a mother who did not care for her and treated her as an inferior being, a nosoul, Ana leaves for the main city, Heart, where she hopes to find some answers to her questions. Acutely aware of her newness in this old and jaded world, Ana views everything that happens to her through the eyes of a child.
Like a child, Ana takes responsibility for events which might or might not be related to her. She thinks it is her fault that the soul of Ciana was not reborn, and that she must be the one to discover why and how that happened. She blames herself for failing to save more souls during the dragon attack later in the novel. She feels that it is up to her to discover and understand why sylph and dragons attack Heart.
And also like a child, she is the only one who sees the people around her with new eyes. Through the kaleidoscope of Ana’s mind, the people of Range are free of five thousand years of history — they can be anything they want to be.
On her website, Jodi Meadows predicts that the second book of her trilogy will come out in winter of 2013 and the third in 2014. I am having a hard time curbing my impatience till the books come out. I don’t often read novels at the forefront of literary development, and I find myself wondering what did readers of Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea Chronicles do while waiting for the next book? How did Tolkien readers manage the wait for the end of the Ring Trilogy? Seems it can be lucky to come late on the scene of a great work of literature. Then again it can be a good fortune to be one of the first explorers in a new land.