Reincarnation (The Seven Uniters Book 1) by Alicia J. Love (Amazon, Goodreads)
Young adult sci-fi romance, it’s a mixture of a lot of popular tastes these days. Conceptually in the same realms as the paranormal romance that still sells piles of books, Reincarnation tries to turn away from the Twilight crowd, using a nice dollop of alien worlds and even a hint of superhero chocolately-ness to make its own mark. Do all of these new flavors make for a brilliant recipe or a deflated souffle?
Before we find out, it’s time to bring out the Starving Review creed:
- I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
- I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible.
There are some tasty ideas here, some things with real merit, that could have propelled Reincarnation away from the crowd of other YA genre romances. I don’t fib at the mention of alien worlds and new vistas. Ms. Love does embrace the science fiction elements and, while not handled as well as I would have liked, the inclusion adds a lot of flavor to an overcooked genre. I was also eager to see how the hinted-at superheroic elements would play out.
The problem with these fresh genre inclusions comes in with the rather late inclusion of these elements. There’s a large front section of the book that is rooted on Earth and, while some of this exposition is crucial, it lingers far too long there. It leaves the real meat of the book to be shoved into the back half of the book, which is a real shame.
The other major issue with the plot is that Reincarnation hews far too closely in terms of story beats as its YA genre romance brethren. The actual dramatic plot points are introduced and dealt with in quick beats in the last third of the book, the romantic elements have far too much ‘love at first sight’ elements (though to Ms. Love’s credit, it does so in a totally unabashed way, making no excuses for the use of it), and the lead protagonist, for all the hint of importance and vast power she has, lacks far too much agency to be palatable to me.
Let’s not be too hard on the chef though. This is a cut above things like Twilight and there are flashes of brilliance to be found here. In some ways, I feel that Reincarnation suffers from a problem I’ve noted in several books that are part of larger series in where it feels like each book feels far too reliant on the larger storyline of the series. To clarify, it is like these books are written entirely to service the series, with no real attention paid to focusing on the actual story arc of each book.
There’s not much more to say about this particular literary treat. In summation, Reincarnation tries to break the baking mold of YA genre romance with a fresh dash of science-fiction and a hint of superheroics, but it falls short of truly shaking up the tired tropes of the plot itself. It remains a cut above the mainline of the genre, but not enough to truly soar to culinary perfection.
FINAL VERDICT: *** (A cut above other YA genre romance, but falls short of truly shaking things up.)