Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Incarnate and The Alchemy of Forever

I unintentionally read Incarnate by Jodi Meadows and The Alchemy of Forever back to back (just so happened that they both became available from my library the same week) and after I read them I realized they were so similar that I'd better just review them back to back. :D Both involve people who have the ability to reincarnate and have been alive for hundreds of years. There are several other similarities, and both even have a masquerade ball scene where the heroine wears a butterfly costume. So, to start off:


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.

Incarnate has been on my to-read list for a while, partially because it received a lot of hype, and partially because I was convinced that the hype was merited when reviews started rolling in about how great it was. I think because of all that hype I was a bit disappointed. I wanted to be WOWED. I enjoyed it and I have very few complaints with it, but it didn't deliver on the WOW.

I liked how original and different this felt. I haven't read many reincarnation books, but this one took a completely new twist on it. I liked seeing the contrast between Ana (who is living her first lifetime) and everyone else around her (who have all been alive for thousands of years), and how she coped with that without whining about it. She was determined to find her place in this world.

I also like the slow build of her relationship with Sam. Trust comes slowly and realistically. Then friendship (with a lot of help from music, which makes my inner musician very happy). Then - and it didn't take a rocket scientist to know it was coming - love. But I liked that even though I knew Sam and Ana would end up together I still enjoyed watching how it unfolded. With the minor beef that I couldn't quite get rid of the icky feeling their age difference gave me. 50,000 year old man falls in love with 16 year-old girl? Just try not to think about it.

And my only real complaint is that some things felt hurried and unexplained, especially at the end. I wanted Ana to spend a little more time discovering the mystery behind her existence. I wanted more of the dragons and sylph and strange religion. The focus ended up being on the love story, which was nice, but I wanted more. Will definitely be checking out the sequel, though.

The Alchemy of Forever

From Goodreads:
Seraphina has been alive since the 1300's, made immortal when the boy she was beginning to love back then, Cyrus, saved her from death with a strange liquid - a method of alchemy that lets them swap bodies with any human being. But now, in modern day America, Sera has decided that she can no longer bear the weight of stealing people's lives so she can keep living on. So she decides to run away from Cyrus and end her stolen existence once and for all. Her plan goes awry when she accidentally takes the body of a dying teenager and feels forced to take over her life. When the lines between Sera and Kailey's identity begin to blur, Sera finds a reason to desire to live once more. But she can't shake the guilt of having taken Kailey's life, even if she was dying. And what if Cyrus finds her?

Seraphina, like everyone in Incarnate except Ana, has been alive for generations. The difference is, that when she needs a new body she doesn't die but instead has to kill someone else and take that body through an alchemical process invented by Cyrus (who is, by the way, one of the most terrifying villains I have found in YA literature). I can't blame her for trying to escape, or for waiting so long to do so (as Cyrus creats a coven of other incarnates and Ana's best friend is one of them - a best friend she is terrified of abandoning to Cyrus's rage and retaliation).

But Sera does escape and takes over Kailey's life with what I thought was incredibly unbelievable ease. Nobody questions it! Everyone is just pleasantly surprised at how nice and thoughtful Kailey suddenly is. Sera fools Kailey's friends, teachers, parents, brother, and the very friendly boy next door. This kind of disappointed me. So improbable. It would have made the story more interesting and created some great tension if even one person questioned Sera/Kailey. Noah (boy next door) and Sera have a sweet little romance, but like with the whole Ana/Sam thing it bothered me that Sera was ancient and Noah was just a teenage boy. But Sera is an interesting character and I think she deserved to enjoy family and friendship since she'd spent so many years suffering with Cyrus.

Who is completely diabolical.

The lengths he goes to to find Sera are scary and ruthless. He's manipulative and creepy and really, just plain evil. There are a lot of very scary surprises from him in the second half of the book.

I'm getting long-winded (my main blogging flaw, I know), so I'll just wrap up and say Alchemy of Forever is fast-paced and good. I could hardly put it down until I was finished, but it left me feeling unsatisfied. I had a lot of questions unanswered, which is sometimes a good thing but in this case NOT. I think there were places that needed to be fleshed out more and I think the whole Sera/Kailey was too easy and made it harder for me to suspend my disbelief. Will still be checking out the sequel, because holy cow what a cliff-hanger. You've been warned. :D

1 comment:

melissa @ 1lbr said...

Interesting. Too bad they both kind of didn't live up to expectations. I might try Alchemy of Forever sometime, though. It sounds intriguing.