Rummanah Aasi
 I've had a great time getting some much needed R&R during my week of Spring Break. I got a mixed bag of books some of which had a promising start but then lost me as I reached the book's end. Today I'll be reviewing Incarnate by Jodi Meadows and New Girl by Paige Harbison. Please note that the reviews are based on the books' advanced readers copy. Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books, Harlequin Teen , and Netgalley for the advanced reader's copy of these books.

Description (from the publisher): 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? Heart 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.

Review: I've always been curious about the concept of reincarnation. I've read a few books that touch upon the topic, but none of them dwell deeper than the superficial level. I really liked basic concept of Meadow's debut novel: for thousands of years in a place called Range, the same one million souls have been born, lived, died and been reborn. They come back in either gender, but they still retain their past experiences and skills they've gained before they died. When a girl named Ciana died, she wasn't reborn. Instead Ana was born, for the first time. Now she must face her hostile mother and the suspicious of the old souls.
  I really liked the first half of the book. There was intrigue, mystery, and danger. Ana is a likable heroine. She was verbally and physically abused by her mother due to her new soul status. At the age of 18, Ana is booted out of her house and hopefully will gain her independence and knowledge of what it means to be a new soul by traveling to the city of Heart. In route to her travels, she is attacked by a sylph and narrowly escapes from the help of a kind and handsome stranger named Sam.
 My issues with Incarnate come in the second half of the book. Instead of focusing on Ana's mission to find and establish her identity, the romance between Sam and Ana hijacks the plot. We are given pages and pages of gazing, sighing, and "does x/y really like me or am I making it up?" As a result, the pace and plot moves at a snail's pace and I found myself getting really frustrated. To make matters worse, the world building of a really unique society is very weak. There is not much difference between the cities of Range and Heart. Range is populated by both creatures of European mythology and regular North American animals. These elements seem to be thrown in haphazardly, perhaps to build danger in what seems like convenient places. Ana's characterization is also uneven, especially when her emotional scars from her upbringing emerge only when they are important to the plot. Overall, the book which is the first book in a series, really reads like a very long prologue. I didn't care too much about the world or the characters to pick up this series.

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: Mild language and violence. Recommended for Grades 7 and up.

If you like this book try: Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause, Meridan by Amber Kizer,

Description: It's hard to be the new girl--especially when the spot you're filling at Manderly Academy, an exclusive boarding school, was formerly held by perfect Becca Normandy, the girl everyone loved, including your new roommate and Max Holloway, the boy you're crushing on. Even when Max starts to take an interest, it feels like Becca is still out there, somewhere, watching. And waiting to come back.

Review: Daphne Du Maurier's famous and well loved romantic suspense classic Rebecca gets a CW makeover in Paige Harbison's New Girl. For the most part, many of the major characters and plot points from the original book are retained. Where New Girl fails miserably is building the mystery and suspense around Becca's persona and her connection to Max. Instead of becoming a force of nature, especially in the minds of the characters, Becca is resorted to a one dimensional rich girl who is an attention starved nymphomaniac. Though it was interesting to see Becca play a large part in the New Girl, I found her chapters to be redundant and boring.
  As far as the new girl herself, I liked her for the most part. I didn't understand her desire to go to boarding school, but I guess she has to get to Manderly somehow. I hated how she was jerked around by Max and I didn't support their relationship at all. I thought Max was cold and arrogant. He did absolutely nothing for me. The original Max de Winter was charismatic and charming, which made the ending of the book colorful and shocking. The ending of New Girl, however, was extremely disappointing and takes away all of the questions we have about responsibility. Do yourself a favor: Skip this one and read the original.

Rating: 1 star

Words of Caution: Strong sexual content mentioned, language, and lots of scenes of underage drinking. Recommended for Grades 10 and up.

If you like this book try: Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, Mrs. De Winter by Susan Hill
8 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Oh Yikes!!!

    That first one has such a pretty cover!!!! I hate when remakes suck.....Ive been meaning to read Rebecca for ages now...I think its going to be on my summer reading list...;) Im going to take your advice on these ones....I have about ( ) that much of time for books right now, so my choices are really picky right now.

  2. Jenny Says:

    Awwww sorry Incarnate didn't work quite as well for you as it did for me Rummanah! I liked the romance between Sam and Ana but I agree on the world building, I would have liked a bit more in this first book. And New Girl was just not the book for me, I couldn't muster up any sympathy or caring for Becca at all.

  3. I liked Incarnate a bit better but I wrote the same thing in my review about poor world building and the ending was a mess.
    I am so glad to see that I am not the only one who detested New Girl. This book is horrible for teenagers all the drinking, at least every chapter and the manipulative sex! I shudder to think of a young teenager or even middle grader getting this one. Wholeheartedly agree, read Rebecca.

  4. Okay, even for as much as I love romance, that second half sounds like it would bore me to tears, too!!!! Bum deal it overshadowed the story.

    And hahaha about the CW makeover.

  5. Aw too bad neither really worked for you. I almost want to read Incarnate for the first half, but that second half would bother me as well. I do think I'll skip New Girl, however. :)

  6. Rummanah, I had issues with New Girl too. As for Incarnate, your statement "instead of focusing on Ana's mission to find and establish her identity, the romance between Sam and Ana hijacks the plot" I think nicely sums up my thoughts about the book.

  7. I've been staying away from both these books on purpose, based on some reviews. Yours just confirmed my suspicions that neither is really for me. Even though Incarnate sounds very interesting in theory, I can't stand books where a good idea gets overtaken by romance. Too bad!
    Wonderful reviews, both of them. :)
    Following now.

  8. Nat Says:

    I enjoyed both of these mini reviews. Good thoughts---although I do hate it when weakness ruins a book for me.

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