This was another one of those books I bought immediately after its publication. The story just sounded so unique and so good! Also, it’s gorgeous! And the prettiness of this book extends way beyond its cover. The book, itself, is purple! And, it has an adorable white butterfly on top of its purple binding. Each chapter always starts with a butterfly drawing too. At first I didn’t fully understand the theme; I got it, but I didn’t think it was that relevant. Later, however, the butterfly theme definitely made a lot more sense, so go HarperCollins for an epic success on the physical beauty of this book!
The book is about Anna, a new soul born into a world of old souls. In the world of Incarnate, everyone is reincarnated over and over again for centuries. There is a set number of people in the world and they all seem to know of each other because there has never been anyone else. Death is not all too scary because no one is dead long. And souls are reincarnated into different genders and completely different bodies each time.
Everything changes with Anna, a new soul who is born when an old soul seems to be permanently gone. Anna grows up with a mother who treats her poorly, as if she were a Nosoul. Anna grows up thinking she has no soul and that she deserves nothing and should love and care for nothing. She is taught to blame herself for the permanent death of a soul she knows nothing about. So as soon as she turns 18, she decides to leave her terrible home and move to Heart, a city filled with new faces and new books to learn about her past.
Anna’s terrible mother tricks her and upon leaving her home for the first time, Anna almost dies. In fact she would have died if not for Sam, an old soul who pulls her out of freezing water and brings her back to good health. And with Sam, Anna learns that not everyone thinks of her as a Nosoul and that maybe she might actually deserve to be happy. He helps her get to Heart and protects her against anyone who might want to harm her.
And the list of those who want to harm her seems to be ever-growing. There’s magical creatures (including dragons) who are always on the war path. Someone is following her (but then disappears). And Anna’s cruel mother comes back into the picture with further threats to Anna’s freedom. Also, the government in charge doesn’t really seem to know what to do with Anna, and put her in the charge of Sam, who seems so willing to protect her.
The romantic tension between Sam and Anna is at an ultimate high. And every time it looks like the two will finally come together, they get interrupted or attacked or taken away to prison. And everything comes down to one big dragon attack when Anna’s MIA father comes into the picture. And Anna has to decide what she wants most: to rescue her new friends or find out answers. This book has everything: dragons, magic doors, creepy temples, a strange religion that is kind of proven to be true, soul-mates that span centuries, masquerade balls, giant libraries of awesome, romance, action, and mystery!
And my favorite thing in the book is actually the music. Sam is a famous musician/composer. And every time he reincarnates he makes more music. His and Anna’s mutual love of listening and creating music was just so amazing to read about! I loved reading about all of Anna’s music lessons. All of the studying mixed with romantic tension made this book hard to put down.
For some reason though this book took me a little longer than normal to read (3-4 days). It had a bit of a slow start. There was a lot of world building and concept building before any of the good stuff really happened. And while the one thing that makes this book stand out so much is this amazing idea/world, I don’t really think it was necessary to hold off so much of the plot for this long. All the same though I did end up loving this one. I loved the idea of old souls finding each other in each lifetime. I found everyone’s fears of Anna completely understandable, if not justified.
And I loved Anna. She’s so tough for someone who’s supposed to hate herself. She does have a lot of doubt and a lot of self-hatred. She’s really defensive and always protecting herself. Yet despite this, I never found her whiny or needy. She speaks without thinking sometimes and does things out of passion. She takes a knife that was given to her as a gift and tucks it into her hair. And she’s so intelligent, learning music and reading history like it is the most fun thing a person can do.
I want to learn more about the lives of the old souls. And I really want to know more about Anna’s father. I can’t wait for the sequel. I hope there will be some answers about Anna’s history in it. And even if there isn’t I’m pretty sure I will enjoy it all the same. Meadows has proven herself to be a writer to keep your eye on. The way she writes about music is magical! And this gets a 9/10 from me.