I can't remember the last time I was this into a world. Usually I'll finish a series book and think "yeah, that was good. I'll read the next one eventually." With Incarnate, though, I can't stop thinking about the world. I seriously almost bought the sequel today, and I'm not exactly an impulse buyer.
I can't quite put my finger on what makes it so great, but it totally works. I mean, we have centaurs (well, they exist, but we haven't actually gotten to meet them yet), sylph, dragons, mysterious living walls, and a city that inexplicably exists in the middle of a wild world. And all of this in a world where the same 1 million souls are continuously reincarnated (except Ana, of course). It all sounded so random to me which is kind of why I put it off for so long. But I shouldn't have put it off. Because it. Is. Awesome.
I love that the world is simplistic in many ways, yet extremely advanced in others. Since everyone has lived for thousands of years they all have many skills and are able to contribute to society in some way or another be it food, clothing or ideas. Between market days (the market being a massive trading post everyone gets together for) everyone is able to sufficiently sustain themselves with chickens, gardens, etc. Then they also have laser guns and smartphone-type devices. It all balances out really well too. I think it helps that the city itself is weird and unnatural. It almost ties it all together.
I really enjoyed watching Ana grow to respect herself. It was hard to hear her constantly putting herself down and thinking of herself as less than human, but it was practically impossible that she'd feel any other way. The one person she'd ever really had contact with for the first eighteen years of her life was horrible. And on top of that, she knew everyone else felt pretty much the same way. But over time (and a realistic amount of it, I might add) she comes to believe in and respect herself a little more. She's not completely healed, which is good since it still leaves room for growth in the next book, but she came a long way.
Since the Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater I've come to think of Sam's as quiet and loving guys. Well, this Sam doesn't quite fit the bill. He's sweet sometimes, but he's also kind of prickly. I imagine that comes with living for thousands of years. I mean, the guy has seen so much -- he's old, and he definitely has the demons to prove it. But he's still good to Ana for the most part. His secretiveness about his past makes him seem a little shady, but it adds to the suspense of the story and the connection with Ana.
The Nutshell: This review is, admittedly, kind of terrible, but I could never say enough about this book. It's lovely with characters perfectly flawed and a world injected with just enough mystery to keep me riveted without sighing in bored exasperation. I seriously can't wait to get my hands on the sequel. In fact, I just might buy it tomorrow...