Incarnate  - Jodi Meadows I tend to get attracted to themes such as reincarnation, and I was interested in the idea of a finite amount of souls coming back year after year, knowing each other, and how one of them disappearing/being 'replaced' could throw off the balance... or bring something new to an old world that may have ended up stalling.

I liked the story quite enough; its prose was easy and flowing, and I had no difficulty picturing the world it was set in. It's a world with a lot of secrets, some of which are only brushed on and leave the reader with the certainty that there's much more to it than just 'souls being recincarnated'. What about the walls with a heartbeat, how come Ana's the only one who feels at unease with that? What about that freaky temple? Why's the center called 'Heart' and the country 'Range' (now there *must* be a meaning behind that... I'd be disappointed if there wasn't). Although we don't get all the answers, it's one of those stories that prompt me to think, try to anticipate, to imagine, and I liked this; it doesn't happen to me with all books.

Including sylph and dragons, and potentially other mysterious creatures, adds a different, fantasy-like touch that was quite pleasant, even though it made me wonder why people in Heart, with lifetimes of experience and experimenting, hadn't found a way yet to fight them more efficiently (lack of urgency? of interest? something else?). Also, Sam's various encounters with dragons were definitely intriguing. Here's to hope that there'll be more about those aspects in the next book, because it seems too strange to be just some random coincidences. In any case, I liked how the attacks were described; those creatures seemed really impressive.

There are a few character-related things, too, I can't wrap my mind around, or am not sure I liked or disliked. It's a weird feeling. Ana's reactions, for one, make sense given how she was raised, but grew old after a while. I'm thinking of her tendency to go into "everyone hates me" mode when quite a few people, actually, held out a hand to her and welcomed her into their world. It was like their efforts and presence over the weeks amounted to nothing, but one wrong comment from some random person would trigger an angsty episode. So, yes, understandable in the beginning, yet quickly tiring after that, especially with Ana flaring at the nice ones and keeping meek in front of those who despised her. The same way, Li's cruelty seemed gratuitous (and if it was a way for her to make Ana pay for 'stealing' Ciana's soul or whatever, then everyone and their dog seemed totally oblivious to it, and totally gullible, which was weird).

I'm not sure what to make of the romance either. It didn't feel that useful to me, and there were moments, especially in the middle, where the dialogue/scenes about it dragged on and on and became a little boring. There was too much of it, which detracted from time spent on advancing the plot, and developing other characters (I'd have wanted to know more about Stef, Whit and the others, for instance). On the other hand, there was no love triangle, and since the latter has become such a crutch of YA novels in general, not having one was definitely refreshing.

I wasn't too thrilled about the ending, which felt rushed--in part, maybe, because so much time had been devoted to the romance, and the rest had to be wrapped up faster? And the reason (and person) behind the newsoul(s) was kind of a letdown.

I'd rate this book a 2.5 stars. It has too many annoying aspects for me to give it a high mark. However, since I liked its world and atmosphere, and it made me spend an enjoyable moment nevertheless, I'm upping it to 3 all the same.