Honestly, I don’t think that the first third of the book was necessary. Incarnate’s beginning dives right in… and not in a good way. We aren’t really introduced to any characters other than Sam and Li, nor are we really shown the world Ana lives in. We aren’t really told anything at all, actually, save for the fact that Ana’s a Newsoul and Li hates her. The beginning leads you ’round and ’round in circles. The first time I read Incarnate, I actually skipped to a little before the halfway point, and didn’t feel like I missed anything. The second time, when I read through it again before reviewing, I struggled through the beginning and discovered that, well, I really didn’t miss anything the first time around.
The romance (if you would call it that) was also a huge downside to me. I found it hard to put up with Ana’s constant paranoid rambling. She’s always too slow to catch Sam’s reaction and/or facial expressions, or is way too suspicious of him one moment… and them promptly forgets what she was suspicious of him over a few moments later. Sam was incredibly patient and kind to her, though, and you’ve got to give the guy some credit for that. However, I found it a little awkward for Ana to be wearing clothes Sam wore when he was a girl in his past lives. And, while he was extremely kind and patient, there just wasn’t any spark between them – no chemistry. They had as much chemistry as a teenager and her grandparents, which is to say, none at all. There’s a forced illusion of sexual tension, and, judging from all the awkward almost-kissing scenes, I guess the author was trying to create some sort of chemistry between them. But there just wasn’t any genuine sparks.
Stef was my favorite character by far. She was so bubbly and sweet – full of energy and could actually make someone smile whereas everyone else seemed way too clueless and naive for a normal person (Anna), down right evil and nasty (Li), monotone and lifeless (most Council members), paranoid (pretty much everyone), or too somber and serious *cough cough Sam cough cough.*
I thought this was a book on reincarnated souls, dragons, sylphs, other mythical creatures. But where did all the dragons go? The sylphs? And what about the people that don’t live in Heart? I think I recall one of the characters talking about how dangerous it was to live in Heart because of all the mythical creatures living in the woods around it. If Heart was dangerous, then some people would opt to live outside of Heart as to avoid the danger, right? So where’d they all go? What happened to them? We aren’t really told much about Heart, or Ana’s world of reincarnated souls. About 80% of this book was about Sam and Ana (their awkward near-kissing scenes, music, piano, and that butterfly metaphor).
Gah, the butterfly metaphor. I’ve cooed over the cover. It’s gorgeous, with all the different hues of pink and blue, the model, and that delicate butterfly mask. Okay, so there’s a butterfly mask on the cover – got it. It’s only natural to assume that there’s going to be some reference to the cover in the book. But I didn’t expect the butterfly metaphor to be everywhere. Literally everywhere. I thought it was clever the first few times around, but after it was repeated over and over and over, and especially when she put on the dress, the repetition didn’t seem so clever or nice anymore; just annoying.
And not only were there unnecessary metaphor repetitions, but pretty much most of the explanation and descriptions were unnecessary. Ask me to describe any of the characters (even Sam), and I don’t think I can. Well, I can describe Ana based off of the cover, but not from the descriptions within the actual book. However, I can describe in great detail Ana’s dress, Sam’s kitchen, the burnt music sheet, Sam’s cup of coffee, Stef’s shoes, and other things that I felt to be unnecessary.
And where did the ending go? Did I miss it? I couldn’t have gone through almost 400 pages just for that. So Sam and Ana finally confessed their feelings for each other. Great. Ana and Li’s problem is settled. Awesome. But I was under the impression (or, at least the summary gave me the impression) that this was about Ana finding out whether she’d be reincarnated or not, and why she’s a Nosoul. That. Can’t. Be. The. Answer. Someone please tell me I didn’t go through almost 400 pages just to have it end like that. No. No. No.
Frankly, INCARNATE was one huge disappointment for me. This book was about 80% Sam and Ana awkwardness, 8% unnecessary things, and 12% actual plot. No joke.
The idea of dragons, sylphs, and reincarnated souls is interesting, and one I’m sure people would love to read about. However, when dragged down and diluted with excess words, unnecessary and awkward moments, bland characters that lacked proper characterization, and a poor ending that doesn’t do a thing to redeem the sluggish beginning, the idea isn’t enough to support the whole book. I fell in love with INCARNATE’s premise. But the written story itself wasn’t as impressive or interesting.
And the beautiful cover strikes again.