Title: The Oldest Soul – Animus (2015)
Author: Tiffany FitzHenry
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy
Rating: 2 stars
*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.* This will also be critical (possibly cynical) review.
Plot (from the website)
Eve has no idea she’s the oldest soul on earth, with a pre-wired connection to every other soul on the planet and that the boy she’s mysteriously drawn to, named Roman, has been her soul mate, her love of nearly three hundred lifetimes—until he tells her.
But what Roman doesn’t mention is that the new genetic test called Animus will soon expose what she is to the whole world and that he’s being tasked with the impossible; steering her, into the open arms of another, a boy named Jude. She’ll learn that Jude’s the only brand new soul on earth; the one who’s come to change the world, and that the future of humanity rests in their intertwined destiny.
Personally, I found that the sequence of events was not very clear. Eve is presented with a lot of revealing information about her soul self – which is enough to absorb for one day – but then she links her mysterious self to all the apocalyptic events that are going on, and the fact that her own brother is missing/possibly wanting to kill her, and that her grandfather is dying? The novel is separated into 4 parts, but it does not help in developing the events coherently.
All the characters are given peculiar names, presumably to suit this ‘mysterious’ aura that comes with each of them. This is due to the fact that 99% of the population is inhabited by souls that have had a distinct number of lives before. Some remember what happened in their past lives; some don’t.
The main character, Eve, has pretty much been secluded from the fact that she… is the oldest soul on Earth. For most of her 17 years of life, she has seemingly not questioned about the oddities in her life: why she only lives with her grandfather and her brother (who doesn’t hide the fact that he wants to kill her), and not her mom and dad; why she is just now, as a sophomore in high school, going to an actual school for the first time; and why she seems to have a lot of knowledge inside her despite her circumstances. The answers to the mystery of this character are slowly revealed in the course of the novel, but there are more left unanswered than answered, which, for me, was just confusing.
Other primary characters include those already in Eve’s life: Cian, her grandfather; Shamus, her brother; Roman, her soul mate in the past lives; and Jude, her new and other love interests. Besides their lack of development, what disappointed me most was their lack of ‘evolution’. They were either missing for most of the novel (Cian and Shamus) to only appear at the end for the ‘grand ending’, or they were present throughout the novel (Roman and Jude) but with a static personality.
It takes place North Dakota, which, by the descriptions, gave me the impression that it was not exactly the most populous place to live in. At the start of the novel, Eve is anxious about attending her first day ever of school, *wow* – the typical girl-meets-boy-and-goes-to-the-same-high-school-as-he-does kind of beginning. Not very alluring, to be honest. From then on, the plot just gets more complicated, so the setting expands to a much broader spectrum.
It basically comes down to two things: destiny and soul mates. Eve, being the oldest soul on Earth, apparently has a mission that she must accomplish or else all the apocalyptic events that are destroying the lives of innocent people will fall into her hands. She has to do that without knowing who she exactly is, yet. And, in the meantime, she has to deal with Roman, who, though was her soul mate in past lives, is convinced by him and others that they are not meant for each other in this life. But it doesn’t remove the emotional connection that they already have. However, Eve is also attracted to Jude, a character that I felt was the least developed. Eve wants to be with Jude, but the fact that she can’t be with Roman is drawing her attention towards him as well. So thrilling.
The most disappointing factor in this book was this. I don’t think FitzHenry’s writing style is necessarily poor, but I didn’t feel that her writing style here was appropriate for the novel. With such a fast-paced and on-the-edge plot, I would have expected a similar writing style. Instead, what I got were lengthy descriptions and slow dialogues that only slowed the pace of the novel.
I also have to mention that it was off-putting to see so many errors when editing the book, if the novel was even edited: punctuation errors (lack of commas), sentence structure (some sentences were too lengthy, some lacked coherence), grammatical errors (“let’s” instead of “lets”, and things like that), and simply little misspellings that bug me. And I wasn’t even reading that meticulously.
Though the book was structured in 4 parts, I felt that there was a difference in the way of writing, particularly when we got to parts 3 and 4. The errors increased by a lot, and I could feel almost as if the author were rushing towards the end of the book.
Like I said at the beginning, this is a very critical (and cynical) review, primarily because the things that I looked for in a book the most did not appeal to me in this book. This does not mean that you might not enjoy the book either. “Animus” is a fantasy, tending to science-fiction kind of book, and I’m usually not the kind of person to read these books. Though nowadays I find dystopian and apocalyptic books (hello, Hunger Games, Maze Runner?) way too cliche, I did like the overall concept of this novel, which goes deep into the analysis of the souls that one person has lived. At the end of the book, the reader is given an index on the types of new and old souls that exist, which I find very interesting (you can even do the Soul Test to see which kind of soul you are).