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Incarnate had such an interesting premise that I rushed to request the ARC. The concept of a society of people constantly reincarnating and being reborn to each other was too good to pass up. Blue Bloods had a poor crack at it and I hoped Incarnate would fare better. Alas, no. What Incarnate had the opportunity of doing was taking philosophy by the horns and riding that bull like a cowboy at a rodeo. Instead, incarnate chose Philosophy!Bull's friend, Philosophy Show Pony and skipped along very slowly and sweetly to Romance Ranch. There it stayed, refusing to budge from it's very comfortable stall until the last thirty pages where it promptly collapsed in a fit of seizures and died. I can only hope Meadow's next book in the series won't be beating a dead horse.
One could reasonably argue that this is just YA literature and perhaps I was expecting too much. However, I think that's not crediting teenagers with enough. A book such as Incarnate has the opportunity to reflect on our society in so many ways, to do so much! How does possession change when no one really dies? How does parenting change when babies are really just miniature adults waiting to get back to their own lives? How does society change? Is there really murder and would it even be a big deal? What about debt? What happens if you can't die to escape that? What does it do to a psyche to die and be reborn constantly? Over time you will have probably given birth to, married, or been parented by almost everyone you know. How does that change the way you see people?
These questions are only very briefly looked at and none are truly answered in any satisfactory way. Instead, the world of Incarnate is eerily like our own with only a few minor changes to the facade.
This is not meant to imply that Meadows is a bad author. What she does do, she does well. The focus in the novel is heavily situated on the romance. It's a very sweet, endearing romance and the characters are lovely. Yet, if I'd wanted a cutsie romance then I have chicken soup for the soul for that.
No, Meadow can write well with lovely descriptions and sweet romantic talk and tense, dramatic, emotional scenes. If I were to sum up her writing style and JUST the romantic aspects of this book, I would say 'lovely'.
But this book looked to be more than just a YA romance and in that it failed. The mystery was flirted with occasionally but otherwise forgotten until the very end, there was almost no action or suspense to speak of outside the very beginning and very end. Some characters were contradictory and nonsensical, some plot elements just didn't fit, etc.
Mostly, where the book failed is that I have no interest in reading any more of this series. I've read my fill of chaste kisses, reluctant love, obstacles to affection, with a cursory nod at plot that only advances at a snails pace amid so much potential. That's all this book was and I currently don't see any potential for the series to be anything more than that. Thus I have no intention at the moment of reading this book's incarnate.