Welcome to Soulless.
We are the generation that laughs at death.
Reincarnation; what was once considered a gift of immortality has become an eternity of nightmares.
Nadia Richards lives in a world plagued by reincarnation, a system of recycling souls where all past memories, personalities and traumatic events are relived daily in disjointed sequences. Trapped within their own warped realities, not even the richest and most powerful are saved from their own minds unraveling. Madness is the new human nature, and civilizations are crumpling beneath themselves trying to outrun it.
Within a society that ignores death, Nadia appears to be the one exception to the reincarnation trap. Born without any reincarnated memories and with printless eyes, the hot tempered 19 year old quickly becomes the ultimate prize to all those wishing to end the vicious cycle, or for some, to ensure they could evade death forever.
Readers discretion: Adult language, violence and some adult scenes. For mature audiences only.
Life and death are different in the future. After several more world wars, some nuclear fallout, and a lot of hunger and sorrow, something needed to be done. That something resulted in the creation of a particularly nasty form of reincarnation and, if possible, an even less level playing field for the elites vs the rest of the players.
Everybody knows that when you die, you’ll be reborn into another body. After five or six or seven years of life, you might start having nightmares. You wake up from being stabbed to death, screaming in pain, shielding your child from the blows…to find yourself in your bed, a child once more. These aren’t nightmares, they are flashbacks to past lives. Everybody has past lives, you see. And eventually, as you get a little older, you’ll remember more and more, you’ll have too many lives to keep straight in your noggin, and you’ll go insane. Anyone with who has murdered in the past goes on a blacklist and is sent directly to prison. If you’ve done it once, you’ve done it always.
Everybody is reborn again and again; these rebirths are so certain that there is no doubt, no concern for bodily harm, no worry about what will happen when this life ends. People commit suicide at 25 to avoid aging; people will give anything for the drug, D400, that dulls the memories of past lives and allows for a sense of sanity.
Everybody, that is, but Nadia. Nadia, nineteen, remembers nothing but this life, and her eyes do not bear the line that can be scanned to demonstrate a history of lives. She’s an aberration. She lives in a slum, stands in line for food that usually runs out before she reaches the front, watches neighbors get snatched by large walking robots or shot down for breaking rules. She has a sister she loves, and parents that don’t seem to love her. She is lonely and tough and seeks understanding.
Maree deeply and impressively delves into the psychology and possible manifestation of a world in which bodies are now disposable and a person’s next life is a forgone conclusion.
How does a parent feel about a child when this child has been born many times before to different parents? Are you no longer a parent, but more like a caretaker for this bundle of beings who will eventually wake up and remember their past lives? Is there still such a thing as a parent-child bond?
How about love. If you have a loved one in a particular life, will you seek them out in the next one? How many times could you meet, and in how many incarnations? Teacher-student? Brother-sister? Lovers?
And what happens when you are the only one without these experiences? A person whose life is singular, whose parents and siblings are the only ones they’ve ever had?
This book is cinematic. There are scenes that would fit right into a miniseries or short-run series: I can see Nadia running in slow-motion, a beeping noise coming from the vault behind her as she slides along the floor and drops through a hole in the floor, an explosion rocking the building behind her, flames following her down. I can see her slipping in the blood and organs of dead prisoners, fleeing before the flames consume the empty husks. This isn’t your kids’ Hunger Games.
My only criticisms are the slight lull in the middle, (just after the cannibals,) as well as a few issues with the romance element. I don’t read much romance, so I can’t compare it to what is typical. There are some aspects that are unhealthy, some mental health and sanity checks my mind keeps making, but I’m not sure that’s surprising in a world like this. Love is rare and weird and difficult in the best of circumstances. But in a world where trust is a premium, where people are out for themselves and change allegiances quicker than their bodies, love is a battlefield. It was inevitable that the love story portion would lead to blood and violence and madness.
This book ends with a cliffhanger on a literal cliff. Maree builds an intriguing world, and for the most part, I enjoyed the plot and characters. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Soulless is available from Inked Rabbit Press on 10/1/2015 via Amazon HERE.
About the Author
Born in Melbourne Australia, Jacinta Maree considers herself a chocoholic with an obsession with dragons, video gaming and Japan. She writes a variety of genres including YA paranormal, steampunk, horror, new adult, dystopian and fantasy. Winner of 2014 Horror of the year and bestselling author, Jacinta writes to bring enjoyment to others while fulfilling her own need to explore the weird and the impossible.
Deviant art: http://jacintamaree.deviantart.com/