Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

Summary from Goodreads:
I’ve been chased my whole life. As a fugitive refugee in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.

Now I’m done hiding.

My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.

When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

No pressure.
This is a weirdly hard book to review and talk about. There were some crazy, amazing, remarkable things in this book, yet at the same time, it was choppy and way too easy to put down. I figured out my feelings about this book when talking to a co-worker about it. Sometimes I just have to voice stuff out loud to understand.
Any way, the good first:  The concept for this book was amazing. A girl King Arthur in space? Yes please.  A corporation taking over the universe one capitalist planet at a time? Awesome. And a future where it’s unacceptable to guess someone’s sexuality or gender because there is no normal? Even better.
This book is filled with so much diverse representation, it’s incredible. There are some characters I have never seen represented in books before. The main character is pansexual. There’s straight, gay, bi, pan, ace, and non-binary characters. I also love that the main character, the 42nd reincarnation of King Arthur, is a refugee revolutionary. And the best thing about all this diverse representation? It never felt over-the-top or forced, or even just there to check off some boxes. It all felt real, and I believe it all only added positive components to the story as a whole.
This was also a character driven story, and I loved getting to know everyone. The chemistry, banter, and friendships between everyone was fantastic. There was a suprising amount of humor added to it all also. I actually laughed out loud at several moments.
What did not work in this book was the plot. The pacing was choppy at best. Moments would build and then disappear…I literally put this down at least 5 times because I thought I skipped a page, but no…the story would just make these weird jumps and expect you to follow along. I had a hard time following the jumps in the story. There was also something that just felt missing.
Talking about this book out loud helped me realize what that was. There’s no overarching plot device/mission/end goal.  The end goal isn’t clear till the last 10% of the book, but I needed that end goal in the first 10%. I needed to know what I was hoping for/needing to happen. And because this end goal was missing, the choppy pacing felt even more confusing. I needed something to connect the dots from the beginning. I needed to know what Ari wanted to do. I needed to know what exactly Merlin hoped Ari would do. And I needed to want those things to happen. Instead, things just happened as the story went along, and I kept losing focus. I almost put the book down and stopped reading entirely.
The characters kept me interested though, and really it’s because of the characters that I finished the book at all. It took me about 2 weeks to read. Hence, all of my mixed feelings about this book. I loved the characters. I loved the diversity. I loved the concept of it. I just didn’t love the execution of the book. Some things needed to be made clear much earlier on. And if I was an editor, I’d have these authors seriously work on transitions. I guess I’d give this a 7/10.

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