Author: Jodi Meadows
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HC imprint)
Ana is new, not one of the million souls reincarnated over and over. She has no memories of past lives, no experiences. But when she was born, the temple went dark and one of those million souls vanished. Ana's mother Li thinks she's a nosoul, a bad luck omen, and kept her away from society. To escape and to learn whether or not she'll be reincarnated, Ana heads for the city of Heart. Sam believes her new soul is good, and he stands up for her when others would rather cast her out. But can he love someone who might only live once? Will Ana's search threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?
Jodi Meadows' debut was sweet like a whisper, an effortless joy to read. Futuristic but oddly rustic, mysterious, and the additions of creatures like dragons and sylphs made the book rather fantastical.
Ana was rather interesting as well. Filled with despair, she was self-depreciating, she didn't enjoy being alive. The little unique bits of herself were masked by the horrid way she was raised by Li, the mother who never loved her and instead saw her as something to be feared and hated, something abnormal, something wrong and unnatural. Not human. A monster.
Ana wasn't effortless in the book, she didn't glide and instead plodded along in careful steps, like a puppy still waiting to be loved but constantly ignored and dismissed. She was so stubborn and hard-hearted in the beginning, she had every reason to lie and hide herself from the people in Heart because of how different she was. But she was so alone as well.
By contrast, Sam was the rather experienced boy in a young body. He'd seen it all, he'd even been a girl a time or two, and he was willing to help Ana. But she couldn't understand why, not after Li and not knowing how the world actually works, and so they rubbed each other the wrong way for a little while.
The idea of souls living on and reincarnation isn't new, but being a new soul after a million have been returning for 5000 years is. Jodi Meadows uses Ana to show us how it is to be a stranger in a strange land, a thorn in the paw of the inhabitants of Heart, a reminder of a man's strange experiments. Some would rather forget Ana existed, they'd rather they never would have to deal with her, but you can't turn someone like Ana away. At the beginning, they were as she is, and after those 5000 years of lifetimes, you'd think one of them might have a glimmer or a glimpse of a memory of what it was like to know nothing of the world. To know nothing of people and truth and lies.
Unique and enchanting, intriguing, an exploration of self and what it means to be alive and matter, what is it to be new surrounded by experienced and ancient. A wonderful blend of romance, fantasy, and paranormal elements.
(I received an advance copy to review from HarperCollins Canada.)