Weekend Talk Among Yourselves

Welcome to Weekend Talk Among Yourselves, where I talk about behind-the-scenes stuff and things that have nothing to do about Avalon or whatever I’m recapping, and you can comment with whatever you want.

Here’s what’s happening on my end:

* Again, sorry about the lack of recaps. Grad school and applying to teaching programs have been taking up all my time.

* Up next is a Book Rant on the Newsoul series. Some of you might remember that it was up for recap bait back when I was trying to figure out what to recap next. There is some trigger warning-worthy stuff (mostly mentions of emotional and physical child abuse), so I’ve hidden it under the cut.

Series: Newsoul (1, 2, 3, plus prequel novella)
Author: Jodi Meadows

In a world where all of humanity has been reincarnated for 5000 years, one human dies a permadeath after a strange accident, and a human with a “new soul” is born. Of course, the majority of humanity thinks this is a Bad Thing, so the baby with the “new soul” and her mother move out of humanity’s only city. Oh, and the mother thinks that her baby has no soul, so she treats it like shit for 18-so years. And by “treats it like shit,” I mean that the mother continually berates her child for not doing anything right, and constantly tells her that she’s soulless and inhuman.

When the child — named Ana, by the way — finally turns 18, she decides to move out to the human city of Heart to find her father and figure out why she exists. Of course, her mother gives her faulty traveling equipment, so Ana gets lost, is attacked by smoke monsters from Lost sylph, and nearly drowns in a lake. Luckily, Ana is saved by Sam, who just happens to be her favorite composer ever.

Ana and Sam eventually arrive at Heart, where Ana has to prove her worth to humanity by learning various trades. She spends most of her time taking music lessons from Sam and instantly falling in love with him. Oh, and she also learns that humanity worships someone called “Janan,” who lives in the massive glowing Korin’s Tower-esque structure in the center of the city and apparently is the reason all humans reincarnate.

After lots of romancing and music lessons, Ana’s mother returns to Heart and makes her life shit all over again. As in, she takes custody of Ana again, burns all the music she composed, and continues to tell her that she’s less than human. Somehow Ana escapes this and finds her way inside Janan’s tower … which is like something Escher and Geiger dreamed up. Inside, she discovers that a) the tower is Janan, and b) Janan thinks that Ana is a mistake.

Ana manages to escape from the Escher-esque tower, only to discover that smoke monsters sylph and dragons are attacking the city. Oh, and the tower stopped glowing, so everyone who dies during the attack is permadead. Oh, and Ana discovers that her dad is responsible for whatever happened to the tower. Unfortunately, he’s killed by a dragon after revealing that. At least he manages to kill Ana’s abusive mother before that, though. And she’s permadead, so … yay?

In the second book, humanity is still trying to deal with permadeath and the birth of more “new souls”. Half of humanity is cool with this, while the other half is all like “new souls aren’t human and should totally be killed!” Ana fights for “new soul” rights and tries to learn more about reincarnation. She ends up learning that a) her father caused the accident that led to her birth, and b) he purposely tried to recreate it on the night all those people permadied.

At some point in that book, Ana reenters Escher Tower with friends to learn more about reincarnation. Inside, they learn that 5000 years ago, Janan chained all of humanity inside Escher Tower with him, and reincarnated them by eating new souls. (The prequel reveals that humanity was forced to choose reincarnation, or be executed.) Janan plans on “ascending” at some point — conveniently, within a few weeks — and making all of humanity truly immortal. One of Ana’s friends tries to prevent this, but turns into a smoke monster sylph. Oh, and Ana gets banished from the city.

In the final book, Ana rallies a number of her friends and encourages them to escape from Heart, since a) some humans plan on killing “new souls” and their allies, and b) the city will be destroyed in a massive supervolcanic eruption when Janan ascends. Ana, Sam, and some other friends go on an aimless quest to find allies to help them prevent Janan from ascending. The smoke monsters sylph immediately join them, since they’re actually the cursed souls of humans who tried to find the secret of immortality, and they have to kill Janan to break their curse. They have a harder time convincing dragons, though, because they think Sam has the potential to compose a song that can kill them.

Anyway, Ana, Sam, and their creature army attack Janan’s awesome Escher Temple on his ascension day, but only succeed in destroying it. Janan still ascends, though, and he tries to convince humanity that the only way to become immortal is to eat souls and kill a phoenix. Ana tells humanity the truth of reincarnation, which causes everyone to riot. And then Ana plays a song, which incapacitates Janan long enough for her to take the power of reincarnation from him.

In the end, Ana gives all of humanity a second chance at life, and they’re all reincarnated in a world where normal people live alongside formerly-reincarnated people. And Ana and Sam manage to reunite in this last life. The end.

Oh! The prequel reveals that this series takes place on our world, except that the magic comes back after a disaster of Roland Emmerich proportions. Yeah.

So, stuff I liked:

  • This is one of those series where I liked the crazy world-building more than the story itself. Modern technology in a fantasy setting, a weird city with pulsating walls built over a supervolcano, strange creatures, a godlike being that eat souls, and reincarnation … I thought all that was pretty awesome.
  • The music lessons that I thought were pointless and a waste of time in the first book were actually crucial at the end of the series!

And the stuff I didn’t like:

  • Child abuse was a major backstory element for both Ana and Sam. Ana went through emotional abuse, and Sam was physically abused by his father before the whole reincarnation thing.
  • Ana instantly falling in love with Sam, all because he’s the composer she admires.
  • There were a lot of characters I didn’t care about. So when (spoiler!) most of them die in the final book, I didn’t really react much to it.

I would recommend this series, if you don’t mind instalove and long scenes focusing on music lessons. The weird setting was enough to get me through it.

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