Title: Once & Future
Authors: Amy Rose Capetta, Cori McCarthy
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (JIMMY Patterson Books)
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.
“It’s true, I’m no murderer. But I do have an impulse control problem. And a sword.”– Amy rose capetta, Cori Mccarthy, Once & Future
Friends! I finished another book! I wanted to review Once & Future because it was not my favorite book. It sounds kind of backwards, but I don’t want my blog to just be me raving about books I loved. It will be of course, but I want to review all types of books, even those that don’t interest or thrill me as much.
So in terms of this book. There are pieces I love and pieces that just weren’t my jam. Overall, I’m not too surprised that this book didn’t thrill me, because retellings are all very hit and miss for me. Add in sci-fi (which is also hit and miss) and you have a recipe that I’m not too interested in making again.
- Genderbent retelling. I love when classic stories are switched to be from a different perspective. The concept of King Arthur as a female is highly intriguing, which is part of the reason I picked up the book. I’m not super familiar with the King Arthur legend – I had to ask my boyfriend a few questions about it because I just wasn’t getting the references!
- LGBTQIA. This is a wonderful queer retelling. Now, I am a cis and straight person, so I don’t pretend to fully understand a solid queer rep – but I’d be willing to bet that this is up there with the best of the best. There is a quote that sticks with me… Merlin uses a he/him pronoun for a gender fluid character and he apologizes then says something to the affect of : I am from a society where historically gender assumptions are based on appearances and aesthetics – and Ari says EW! I loved that part, and it is so important in today’s society
- Merlin. In this book, Merlin is aging backwards – so he is a 17 year-old male in this retelling. He is also gay. I’ll repeat, we have a gay wizard. As a Harry Potter fan, I’ve been waiting for this day for SO LONG! All the representation! Anyway, the fact that he is aging backwards becomes a pretty important plot point as it inhibits his interactions with the rest of the knights.
- I don’t care about King Arthur. As stated, I don’t know much about King A. However, I now know that I don’t really care about the legend, and honestly it bores me. I got through the book, but it was very *yawn* as a plot baseline. Also, the “evil” that needs to be vanquished is very reminiscent of the Capitol in The Hunger Games and it felt unoriginal.
- Gwen and Kay. Okay. If you haven’t read this book, look away because spoilers are coming. Gwen is Ari’s WIFE. Kay is Ari’s BROTHER. Ari becomes presumed dead, so they start banging each other?? EXCUSE ME? No, I don’t even care for Gwen’s “it was the closest way I could be with you”. Hellz no. BYE. AND THEN. She’s PREGNANT? And THEN… he DIES? Nope. You lost me. His death scene was very annoying – it wasn’t well explained and felt unnecessary.
- Dragons. That weren’t dragons. But were dragons? Still confused. Someone advise. Now, I love dragons. Dragons make every book better. But if you’re going to have dragons, call them dragons…. not taneens. Like, dragons exist in this world, but these dragon like things are not dragons. But are definitely dragons by description. Still confused.
- Space. I totally get the concept that Old Earth was overrun over the centuries and basically destroyed so everyone went to space and to live on planets. Got it. Totally could happen. But why is space so… cliche? Like a moon that is basically Vegas? And there is conveniently a planet that is bass ackwards enough to be Arthurian? Like, literally modeled after King Arthur’s time? And the random chick Ari loves is the queen? – Y’all, I get that this is a cycle of life and Merlin keeps coming back to run through the same basic story line – but some originality would be nice, and less obvious coincidences.
Okay, that was a lot of words. I have a lot of feelings, okay?!? I will read the sequel when it is released in 2020 regardless, and I’m sure I’ll review it. I’m just glad I didn’t spend money on this book and read it through the library. It was not my jam, but that’s okay! If you love retellings and sci-fi with some lovely queer rep, this will be the book for you! It was written well, I will say that.
Happy reading, friends!