Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.
Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?
Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?
Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.
I bought this book back over the holidays and genuinely had plans to read it in the early part of the year. Then, I got my hands on The Waking Engine and decided that it would be unfair to review this after that because the odds were way too high that I’d judge it too harshly. I am glad I delayed this review: though this definitely isn’t as good as the former book, it’s still a fun book in its own right, enjoyable enough to become the first book I both binge-read and stayed up much later than normal to finish this year.
As far as the plot goes, it’s really fairly straight forward: Ana (the NewSoul) leaves her emotionally abusive mother to go to Heart to try and discover who she is and how she came to be. Sam, one of the reincarnated souls, agrees to take her in and teach her the skills she needs to become a productive member of society while she looks for answers for how she comes to be. It’s straightforward, but it works. There is a major flaw in this plot. The Council agrees to let her stay in Heart so long as she gets properly educated and passes certain achievement tests on the theory that she might be reincarnated herself and therefore this would ensure she will be a productive member of society going forward. If this is the case, why did there not seem to be such a deal place from when Ana was still with her mother Li? Given that adulthood in this society is generally reached between 13-15 (because they remember the skills they had from previous lives) wouldn’t they have done something sooner? This is a society where everyone is reborn. They wouldn’t just wait until 18 because although that is our norm for the beginning steps of adulthood, it isn’t their norm. It isn’t something that struck me until after I finished reading, so it shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but it is something that stands out in a negative light.
The real drive of this book is the characters and whether or not you like the characters will probably be key to whether or not you like the book. Ana is likeable, but she’s also all but broken when we meet her, the years of emotional neglect having left their toll on her: she doesn’t believe she’s worthy of positive emotions, she trusts no one and so forth. She does not finish the story whole, but she is way stronger by the end of the book than perhaps she should be, but again, there is something about this book that sweeps you up so you don’t necessarily think about it as you’re going. Sam and his friends all come across as warm and friendly and you can see how someone could heal in his presence. He’s not the most complex character, but he doesn’t need to be.
My major complaint in the book is that those who hate Ana for merely existing (such as her mother Li) feel a bit one note. They hate the NewSoul and that’s that. We’re given the explanation that they blame Ana for the lack of reincarnation of Ciana, but that is literally blaming the child for the sins of the father. She’s hated for simply having been born with the wrong soul. I wish that Jodi had taken more time to give insight into just how her death impacted this community. If I remember correct there were only 5,000 people in this society and everyone knew each other. Maybe Ciana had a talent that no one else had, so now something is lost for good to them. Maybe Ciana helped shaped society in some form. Maybe there was some kind of prophecy that spoke of the end of their time when the NewSoul started to arrive. Just something, anything beyond “we knew her and don’t know you.” It’s a little too simplistic for my taste and makes for a convenient suspected villain in her mother.
This book isn’t deep and it isn’t perfect, but it is a fun and light read that as much romance as it is fantasy. If that’s all you’re looking for you’ll probably enjoy it. If you’re looking for something deeper or having any real sense of philosophy or religion, skip this and check out the The Waking Engine instead.
Verdict: Borrow It. Some may be disappointed by how shallow it is, but if you’re a fan of young adult and you’re looking for something a bit different, this might do the trick.