For about 5,000 years, people in Range have been reincarnated over and over into different bodies. They know each other pretty well as their “souls” and keep their names and skills from lifetime to lifetime. But then Ana is born, and she is new. She’s never lived before, and she’s actually “replaced” someone who’s been around for millennia. It’s spooked and angered the people in their society, and even Ana’s own mother, Li, who took her out of the main city, Heart, to the country to be away from others soon after her birth, hates her and treats her horribly.
When she turns 18, Ana decides to make her way into Heart so she can at least try to find out why she was born. Why is she different? Does she have a soul? Will she end up being reincarnated like the others, or will this one life be all she gets when everyone else has lived for so long? Is it possible she is deserving of being loved?
Ana meets Sam right after she leaves home, and he takes her into Heart and into his protection, among a group of people who distrust her and think she has no right to be in the city. The two develop a friendship and even more. As time goes on, Ana starts to feel she has a right to exist. And she continues to seek for the reasons that she does. Her quest gets complicated, though, when Li comes back into Heart, when danger strikes the city in the form of both dragons and sylphs, and Ana has to prove she really isn’t a part of the danger somehow.
Incarnate is a pretty interesting mix of fantasy, with a society where people are reincarnated and remember their past lives and selves and just keep learning and contributing, and a world in which dragons, centaurs and sylphs exist and attack the people. At the same time, the souls have learned and progressed a lot over the years and have pretty good technology, with devices pretty much like smartphones, vehicles and drones, and common musical instruments (pianos and flutes, for instance). There’s a mysterious “god” known as Janen that most people don’t really believe in or worship anymore, but his temple somehow emits a glow and its walls have a kind of pulsing heartbeat. So there’s mystery about why the people are reincarnated and what Janen actually has to do with it, as well as the origins of the city walls and buildings, which already were in existence when the earliest people found Heart. Then there’s the mystery about why Ana is a newsoul, and if there will be any more. And there’s romance, with Ana and Sam. All in all, it kept me interested and I’m going to read the whole series to find out the answers to all the questions.
Rated: Mild. There is hardly any language, if any at all, and the sexual content mainly is kissing and wondering on the part of the main character what is beyond that and if she’ll be ready for it. There is some violence, with some scenes of fights and injuries and a couple of deaths, but little detail.