Review: Soulless by Jacinta Maree

June 14, 2017

Welcome to Soulless. We are the generation that laughs at death. 

Reincarnation; what once was a gift of immortality is now an eternal nightmare. 

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. 

In a society that ignores death things become complicated when Nadia appears to be the one exception to the reincarnation trap. Born without any reincarnated memories of her own, the hot tempered 19 year old quickly becomes the grand prize to all those wishing to end the vicious cycle, or for some, to ensure they could evade death forever.

Set in a dystopian society far into the future, Soulless is the story of Nadia, a nineteen-year-old woman who was born without any reincarnation memories. She is a blank slate – a fresh soul – and that makes her valuable in a society where reincarnation and the memories of their former lives has driven people to the edge of their insanity.

Nadia was born without a soul imprint in her eyes—an identifying mark that, when scanned, reveals the identity of a person. And in her society, being printless is a dangerous thing. Her life is quickly turned upside down when her parents agree to trade her to the authorities in exchange for life-saving food and life-altering medicine.

This is the start of the ultimate struggle for survival for Nadia.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I loved the concept of a society where immortality is a reality and death is just a dream. It made me wonder what human beings would actually be like after thousands of years of this new evolution. If you don’t fear death, would you be more willing to do things perceived as dangerous? If your life was filled with poverty and despair, would you just end it all, knowing your soul could come back again? Would you have the courage to take your own life, and if so, did that mean life was not a gift anymore, but something taken for granted? 

This book is very much a plot-driven story. Right from the beginning, action fills the pages as the world building begins. Nadia is a product of her surroundings; she scared for her life most days, but she chooses survival over fear. Seeing unimaginable cruelty around her, she hardens herself to things such as corpses lying on the streets and watching on impassively as someone is electrocuted and beaten. It makes sense for her to lose her sense of empathy, trust and compassion in her bleak world of deadened senses and lost emotions. If she were to show anything other than detached curiosity, she would become the target.

The descriptions in Soulless are on pointe, and Maree paints a striking and vivid picture of a society that is scary to imagine. As I was reading, I kept thinking this would make a great movie or TV series.

Nadia is such a broken character, and it’s easy to see why. Her parents treat her like a stranger – suspicion and distrust is the only thing they show her because of her printless eyes. She’s learned the only person she can trust is herself, and simply surviving is her first priority. In saying that though, I didn’t feel completely connected to her or her plight. I almost felt as if I was watching her from a distance, rather than being fully immersed in her life, or standing next to her as she suffered and fought for her next breath. 

The only real issue I had with the book was with the dialogue. Although this has been classed as a new adult book, I found the dialogue – especially when it came to Nadia – to be a bit immature. This is a book that takes on adult concepts and has ‘adult’ characters, so I struggled a lot with Nadia’s outbursts and her choice of language on occasions.

I found the concept and the world Maree built in Soulless far outweighed the few small issues I had. It was fast-paced and kept me turning the pages, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.  

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