Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: January 31st, 2012
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.
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.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)
This book was such a surprise for me. Several months ago, when people started buzzing about it (the cover, mostly), my interest was piqued, but this wasn't one of the 2012 debuts that I felt like I HAD to get my hands on without delay. I thought, "Sure, the cover is really pretty, and the story sound interesting enough, but it's not CALLING to me." Well, in this case, my instincts were way off. This book was awesome, one of my favorites so far this year; and now that I know the story behind the cover, I think it is the most beautiful cover of the year. Ya'll NEED to read this book!
I'll start my review by telling you what I loved best (and I say "loved" because "like" is not a strong enough word to properly express my feelings)... The characters in this book were so multi-dimensional, especially "nosoul" Ana. I cannot even fathom being in her position- everyone she's ever met has the experience of thousands of years of living- they all intimately know each other, in one way or another, and they can never really die because they will just be reincarnated with all the knowledge and experience of their previous lives. They don't really care if they die- they will come back soon enough- but Ana? No one knows what her fate will be when she dies. That has to be scary! Add to all of that the fact that most people, her own parents included, hate her for being an aberration. These feelings are so intense that her father left when she was an infant and her mother kept her hidden away from society as a whole, for her first 18 years of life; physically, mentally, and verbally abusing her the entire time. Imagine what kind of person you become after that. Ana has a strong spirit though, and she perseveres, teaching herself life skills that her mother couldn't be bothered with teaching her. Now she's 18 and she wants answers. Who is she? Why was she born? Is there anyone out there like her? When she goes on her quest for them, she meets Sam, and I have to say, he is one of the most tender and worthy male characters I've come across in a YA novel. I found myself rooting for them from the beginning, and one of the things that kept me reading was the need to find out if a romance ever developed between the two, of if their relationship would stay platonic. Sam and Ana were the main characters, but Jodi Meadows spent a decent amount of time developing the supporting characters as well, and I was so glad for that...
Of course, you can't write a book with characters alone, and that brings me to the story. It was equally good. A well rendered world, with an interesting premise behind it. The originality of this book was amazing. Imagine the utopian existence that could be built if the people within it had thousands of years of personal experience on which to build it. Imagine how that might be disrupted if suddenly a beloved friend, who everyone expected to be reborn, was suddenly replaced by a brand new soul who had no experience to draw upon. Imagine if that person was raised away from society for 18 years, only to return under the protection of a valued member of society. You would think it would divide the people, and it did.
If you haven't ascertained this already, I will reiterate... I LOVED this book. It was beautifully written, with such a strong sense of humanity- both the good and bad aspects of it. I couldn't put it down, and I am beyond excited for the release of book #2. Anyone looking for something fresh and different, should definitely give this book a try. You won't be disappointed you did.
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Grade Level Recommendation: This book is pretty clean. There is some romance, and sex is alluded to in one chapter, but never spoken about outright. Anyone reading this that wouldn't be ready for that type of content, probably wouldn't understand what they were talking about anyway. I was say this book is more than appropriate for 5th grade and up (ages 10+).