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A Reader of Fictions: Suddenly, Seymour - Ellen Greene & Rick Moranis

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Suddenly, Seymour - Ellen Greene & Rick Moranis

Newsoul, Book 1

Author: Jodi Meadows
Pages: 374
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Library

Description from Goodreads:
New soul

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.

No soul

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.

First Sentence: "What is a soul, but a consciousness born and born again?"

Ever since Presenting Lenore first featured this book in a prior dystopian month, I have been incredibly curious about Incarnate. Denied on NetGalley, I did not find time to read this until now. What I was expecting and what I got were entirely different things. It really kind of amazes me how little I know about books that I somehow still manage to be excited for.

Yet again, I'm deeming this not really a dystopia. Sad day. With the popularity of the genre lots of books are getting mislabeled. Actually, if anything, this seems much more like a utopian society, though one fraught with some issues. There is some amount of corruption in their governing council, but I don't think they try to control their average citizens enough to make them dystopian, though from Ana's perspective maybe they are.

The world building in this novel is straight up crazy, which I don't necessarily mean in a bad way. It's just way odder than I was anticipating. For example, I had no clue that there were going to be dragons and sylphs in this. There was also reference to trolls and centaurs, so I imagine those will show up in later installments, because why mention them if they're not going to serve a purpose in the plot? Even weirder than that, though, is the city of Heart, which the people of this world found built and waiting for them, walls, homes, temple and everything just empty and ready for them. They didn't question it; they just moved in, thank Janan. WHAT?

In this world, apparently, precisely one million humans live. Each of these souls reincarnates upon death, coming back in a couple of years to a new form and a new biological body and family. Everyone in Heart has been alive for five thousand years at this point. All of them have been both men and women. New experiences are few; everyone knows everyone.

Then, everything changes. Ciana dies, but she is not reborn. Instead, Ana emerges into the world, a shiny newsoul. Everyone flips out, because they fear this spells the end of their lives. Despite the fact that Ana clearly has no control over her birth, everyone blames and hates her, especially her mother, Li, who takes her to live in a rural cottage to escape from judgment. Also, being far away enables Li to mentally and physically abuse Ana without anyone knowing.

At the outset of Incarnate, 18 year old Ana has finally run away from Li, determined to learn the truth about herself in Heart. Misled by her evil old bat of a mother, Ana goes the wrong way, is attacked by sylph and nearly drowns. Thankfully, Sam happens upon her and rescues her. They form a bond and she discovers, for the first time, that people are capable of treating her well, of caring about her.

Ana made a rather indifferent heroine for me. She comes across as fairly weak, definitely depending more on Sam than is probably healthy. Then again, she basically has imprinted on him forever, since he was the first person to ever be nice to her. I do appreciate that she is at least a little bit bothered by the gap in their ages and experience; that has at least been acknowledged. Pretty much the only quality that really endeared Ana to me was her love for music. Otherwise, she didn't really stand out, much less clever and fascinating than I think I was supposed to think.

For the most part, my difficulties with Ana stem from her self-hatred. I totally get why she feels that way and, believe me, I understand what that's like. She's been torn down all of her life, so it would be impossible for her to be otherwise. Still, it's painful and annoying to sit through so many chapters of her self-doubt. Even with Sam's insistence on her awesomeness, she continues to think of herself as a nosoul for ages.

Sam, though, I actually really do like. He saved the book for me. He's nice and dependable. Aside from falling for Ana, something he seemed hesitant to do, but, thankfully, didn't brood over, he is completely non-creepy. My mental picture of him is super attractive, but he declared himself not to be, which is interesting. I wonder how reliable Ana's portrayal of him really is, considering that she, again, is biased since he was the first person in her entire life to ever be kind to her or to tell her that she has value. Their relationship strikes me as VERY unhealthy in all sorts of ways, even though I like Sam and want him to be happy. Still, finding your sense of self-worth only because of a guy isn't exactly ideal, neither for Audrey and Seymour or for Ana and Sam.

Reading through what I've written so far, I can't see too many things that particularly bothered me about Incarnate. Still, I feel like there was something missing that I can't quite put my finger on. For me, this turned out to be an entertaining but not especially impressive read. The concept intrigues me greatly, but I didn't really bond with most of the characters or the execution of the idea.

Favorite Quote:
"'Seems to me you're in a unique position to be anything you want.'
   'I doubt that.'
   'You have the benefit of learning from others' experiences. You don't have to make the same mistakes we did in the beginning, or the ones we're still making.' He led Shaggy to the side of the road and looped the rope around a low cottonwood branch, leaving enough slack for the pony to nose around in the sparse foliage. 'And who you are isn't already cast in everyone's eyes. No one knows what to expect from you. Some would say society is in a rut. Stagnant. By virtue of being new, you have the power to shake us out of that.'"

"Suddenly Seymour
Is standin' beside me
He don't give me orders
He don't condescend
Suddenly Seymour
Is here to provide me
Sweet understanding
Seymour's my friend"

Remember: Every comment on a post during Dystopian August is an entry to win one of fourteen dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels IF you've filled out the form from this post.

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Blogger Nori said...

I have owned this one for like ever, but still haven't read it. I keep reading mixed reviews, but I will get to it. I love the cover and the whole reincarnated thing kind of baffles me. The only other YA that deals with it that I know of is the Blue Blood series by De La Cruz, which I love. So, I'm definitely going to give it a try. Will you read the sequel?

August 5, 2012 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger Christy Maurer said...

I think this is one I'll skip. It doesn't seem to fit into my idea of dystopian. The general idea of it sounds good, but it sounds like they didn't execute it very well. Is this the Rick Moranis that is an actor?

August 5, 2012 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I actually don't like the cover, and I really hate the one for Asunder. Well, I definitely think this is better than Blue Bloods, but you know how I feel about that series.

I'll probably read the sequel if it makes its way to me.

August 5, 2012 at 12:25 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

The title of every book review here on A Reader of Fictions is a song that reminds me of the book. This song is from the movie musical for The Little Shop of Horrors. Rick Moranis is an actor in it, as is Ellen Greene. :)

August 5, 2012 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger aLilLacey said...

I'm not sure i would have guessed what this book was about by the cover so I'm glad for your review. Ana would definitely be at a disadvantage being behind 5000 years on experiences like every one else. It'll be interesting to see how the author plays of his idea. And really dragons? Kind of an odd thing to throw in with a human reincarnation idea.

August 5, 2012 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Bekka said...

This is basically what I expected of this: meh. There are soooo many glowing reviews of it, but I kind of just... knew. Also, I read somewhere that the romance TOOK OVER the plot. I think I'll be skipping this one.

Also, I feel like I'm the only one in the world who doesn't like that cover.

August 5, 2012 at 1:21 PM  
Blogger Bekka said...

The Eternal Ones also deals with reincarnation. It was interesting, but in my opinion, a little too long.

August 5, 2012 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, I thought the reincarnation concept was really cool. That was definitely the best part.

Dragons. For reals. I feel like it would have been a stronger story without adding those paranormal elements in. It didn't seem like they helped.

August 5, 2012 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, it wasn't terrible, but I don't think you'll be missing out if you don't read it. I do not imagine you would be impressed.

I'm not really a fan either. It's creepier in person.

August 5, 2012 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I didn't really like The Eternal Ones. The romance was skeevy. It was my first review on this blog, though, ironically.

August 5, 2012 at 1:49 PM  
Anonymous Christina K. said...

I agree that it's not a dystopian, but it's a fantasy novel I absolutely loved! I really connected with Ana and her journey from believing she's worthless and a nosoul to a worthy newsoul. I loved Sam, and how he takes a stand against everyone's prejudice. The city of Heart was so different.

I'm so sorry you didn't like it:(

August 5, 2012 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger Bekka said...

Yeah the romance as definitely off. But the reincarnation bits were interesting to me. As a whole the book was just okay. Not terrible, not mind blowing. Really long though, like 500 pages if I can remember right.

Will search for that review right now!

August 5, 2012 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

"Still, I feel like there was something missing that I can't quite put my finger on. For me, this turned out to be an entertaining but not especially impressive read. The concept intrigues me greatly, but I didn't really bond with most of the characters or the execution of the idea."

This pretty much sums up exactly how I felt about this (maybe I'll get around to writing a proper review one of these days...haha.) Reincarnation is absolutely fascinating, but here, it just didn't really work for me for reasons I can't quite put my finger on. I also got tired of reading page after page of Ana whining. I totally understand that she had it rough and was different from everyone else, but did she really have to whine about it forever? Ugh!

Also, this was definitely not a dystopia. Perhaps I found this book so disappointing because I was expecting something entirely different (I, too, was fooled by that tag), but alas, it is what it is.

August 5, 2012 at 7:12 PM  
Blogger Lilian said...

"Misled by her evil old bat of a mother, Ana goes the wrong way, is attacked by sylph and nearly drowns."
If I was drinking milk when I read that sentence, my monitor would be soaked right now.

"Everyone flips out, because they fear this spells the end of their lives."
Big deal, welcome to my life.

I actually think it's a good thing. Now they can finally treasure their lives and try harder not to die. Mostly because I think the idea of reincarnating over and over in the same town to be tiring after awhile (if you remember your previous lives). I wonder how their funerals go. "NOOOOO, DON'T LEAVE US, DEAR GRANDFATHER!!!!...Actually, never mind I'll see you again as an infant a few years later~ Have fun reincarnating!"

"Still, it's painful and annoying to sit through so many chapters of her self-doubt. Even with Sam's insistence on her awesomeness, she continues to think of herself as a nosoul for ages."
This just echoes my thoughts with A Discovery of Witches' Diana and Matthew.
Insecurity gets on my nerves. ARRGGGHHHHH!!
Yep, I'm not reading this one all right.

Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

August 5, 2012 at 9:09 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Well, I wouldn't say I didn't like it. I did, but that was it. I just didn't connect with it, sadly.

The ideas and Sam I did love!

August 6, 2012 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Hahaha, right? Like, believe me, I totally understand self-esteem issues, but I was so sick of her whining. Oh well. I also love the concept of reincarnation. Seriously, though, how did all of the other paranormal things fit? I think it would have been more contemplative and awesome without those muddying the waters.

Yup. It wasn't awful and I know some will love it. I will probably read book two, but meh.

August 6, 2012 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Only milk? Is it especially spit-take-worthy? (Also, that sentence is completely true. For the first couple chapters I was just going, 'WHAT THE WHAT?'

Yes, we feel so badly for the reincarnated souls that might not be reborn after 5000 years of life.

They definitely were a bit more cavalier than I think we are. At some point, wouldn't you WANT to stop living? Especially if, perhaps, there was no one you could fall in love with amongst the souls. FOREVER ALONE. No thanks.

Bahaha. Yeah, you would be all judgy judge for sure. I'm saving you from all of these heroines you would want to karate chop. You're welcome.

August 6, 2012 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh, I don't remember how long it was. The romance was awful, another one of those completely perfect dude with flawed but gorgeous heroine scenarios. Meh.

My favorite reincarnation YA books are Cara Lynn Shultz's. She is so funny!

August 6, 2012 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger Lilian said...

Well, water would be boring! And when people laugh, they squirt milk out of their noses..it's more epic than squirting water. Nobody is grossed out by water! I think.

I think the scarier issue is what if your parents are your mortal enemies? Guess who will be getting neglected.
And worst yet, what if your former lover became your mom? INCEST!
Or if your former lover became your sibling...oh gosh. AWKWARD!

Haha! I am sure my neighbors would be grateful not to see books being thrown out the window and landing on their heads while they go out for a morning stroll.

August 6, 2012 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I feel like pretty much anything that comes squirting out of a nose is going to be gross. I mean, would you want me to squirt water out of my nose onto you? I'm guessing not.

Haha, that parents are your mortal enemies thing happened in a reincarnation manga called NG Life. It was hilarious. I was super entertained by his relationship with his dad, his worst enemy in a previous life.

Bahaha, that would be awesome. I should stop saving you.

August 6, 2012 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

AHHHHH! I somehow managed to miss the INCEST portion of that comment. Horrifying. ALSO TRUE. That must happen all the time. I could not deal!!!! Bleh.

August 6, 2012 at 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Katie @ BlookGirl said...

I've had INCARNATE since April, I think, and have held off on reading it due to the so-so reviews. Some people I know _loved_ it, but many others feel, like you, that something was missing. I think I should finally give it a read, though, so your review has inspired me! :-)

August 6, 2012 at 11:21 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I'll be so curious to see what you think. I just felt a bit off-balance through most of it. There were moments where I would get really into it, but then I would be thrown out again when something seriously odd transpired. It will be fun to compare reactions!

August 6, 2012 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger Kayla Beck said...

I read this book back in January (I think), and the only thing that really stuck with me was how creepy the age difference was to me. It was all I could think about. The same thing happened to me in City of Bones - I was too grossed out to enjoy it. I liked the world-building and the reincarnation part of the book, but 5,000 year old Sam was just a bit much. *sigh* I need moar YA fantasy!

August 18, 2012 at 5:58 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

LOL. Yeah, I really liked Sam, but they really were awkward as a couple. I mean, if she seemed like an old soul, despite being so young, that would be one thing, but she felt childish and young. He was an odd combination of boyfriend and father figure. She's kind of screwed if she can't date him though, because the only other new souls are going to be 16-18 years her junior, which would be worse.

August 20, 2012 at 8:04 AM  

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