My rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Retelling
Pacing: Normal to very fast
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Published: March 26th, 2019
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. – synopsis from Goodreads
“It’s true, I’m no murderer. But I do have an impulse control problem. And a sword.”
When I first heard about Once & Future I was so excited. King Arthur is one of my favourite legends. I’ve read books, seen movies and TV shows and couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book, that promised me a genderbent, sci-fi King Arthur. Unfortunately, for me this version didn’t live up to the hype.
Ari is the 42nd reincarnation of King Arthur, when she retrieves Excalibur, that action sets the world into motion and puts her on her path to reunite the universe and at the same time waking up Merlin and his nemesis Morgana. While this new King Arthur (Ari) puts together her own version of the Knights of the Round Table, they will all have to come together to fight off Mercer, this all controlling corporation. Once & Future does touch on some very relevant subjects for example corporatocracy and illegal refugees. The parallels between the books and actual events cannot be ignored and it was very clear that the authors wanted to say something about what is happening today and I thought they did a very good job in passing a message.
I also want to give mad props for the amazing diversity that resides in Once & Future. The LGBTQ+ and racial diversity representations are probably one of the best I’ve seen in a YA book or any genre for that matter.
My main issue with the story was the execution. Once & Future has constant action, it seems to really never stop and it makes the story confusing and overwhelming. We find ourselves always moving and not really getting a lot of depth from the story or the characters. The timeline seems to be always jumping fast forward without any real reason, explanation or necessity – we just find ourselves propelled months or years in the future. For me, everything felt too rushed and gave me a sense that I was reading three books in one. By the end, I found I didn’t care for any of the characters (though I might have a soft spot for Merlin) and found myself very confused by the story. I prefer books that take their time, builds the plot and take us on a journey. With Once & Future I just felt out of breath and struggling to keep up with what was happening.
I wanted so much to love this one since it was on my most anticipated list for this year but it just didn’t work for me. I guess I will have to continue to wait for the return of King Arthur.