Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy

Title: Once & Future
(Once & Future #1)
Author: Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Publish Date: March 26, 2019
Murder, Genocide, Torture
Gay/Lesbian, Asexual, Chinese, Arab, Black,
Gender-Fluid, Pansexual,
TBR Readathon: Author I Haven't Read Before
ATLA Readathon: Chosen Family
Hogwarts House Battle: New to Me Book

It’s the start of a new month, and this is the first book that I ended up finishing for the three September Readathons that I’m completing in. Yes, three, because I’m completely sane and have totally done readathons before today.

Oh wait.

Ari is the reincarnation of the legendary King Arthur. I think this is the first time that King Arthur was ever brought back as a woman before, so that’s cool. She is actually the 42nd reincarnation of Arthur – that’s a lot of Arthurs – and she is the adopted sister of Kay. She was rescued outside of Ketch, her home planet.

“Your people, the Arabs, were the first to leave, to turn their back on all that humanity has done to the earth. Not that I blamed them. Their lot on that planet was perpetual war and grief.”

Merlin to Ari

Kay is Ari’s brother. He’s a goofball, and loyal to a fault. He has a ship named Error, and he absolutely loves his baby.

Merlin is the same Merlin that we all know and love, except he’s now in the body of a teenager. He’s cursed to age backwards and started life as an old man with that long beard. He has only loved once in his life – one of the Arthurs actually – and has never really had friends until now.

“I’m Merlin, the magician, and I come to you now at the turn of the tides.” Kay stared openmouthed at this attempt at dramatic grandeur. “Well, that’s Gandalf’s line, but I had to try it at least once.”

Merlin’s Introduction to the Knights

Lam (they/them) was the first person that Ari was ever attracted to, honestly. They were punished for something earlier before the novel and had their hand cut off. They are extremely loyal and is Val’s sibling. They are from the planet Pluto.

Val is Lam’s brother and is one of the cutest guys ever. He ends up developing feelings for Merlin and is also the royal adviser to Lionel Queen Gwen.

Gwen is the Queen of the Medieval planet Lionel. She has had feelings for Ari on and off for years, and she’s fiercely loyal to her planet.

He noted that – by the seemingly undying Earth standards – she was of mixed Asian and European heritage. Something about her felt familiar, but then Gweneviere was always regal, beautiful, terrifying.”

Merlin seeing Gwen for the FIrst Time, This Cycle

Morgana is the sister of Arthur – the first one – and seems to be the eternal enemy of Merlin. While he is cursed to age backwards and constantly help the reincarnations of Arthurs, she’s been cursed to live a non-corporeal life, watching the death and destruction of humanity throughout the ages.

Basically it’s the whole Arthurian clan. But in space.

King Arthur Retelling but with a girl?

And in space.

The evil being in this one is a universe-wide company called Mercer, that has basically created a monopoly of goods and services throughout the galaxies. People are forced to buy everything from them, and if they don’t buy the daily minimum of goods, they are exiled to a non-Mercer occupied planet that is usually desolate and just plain terrible to live in.

There are some snarky lines in here that I absolutely adore. It made it easier to get through.

For example:

“Really? That plaque over there says chivalry gave birth to toxic masculinity, which caused Old Earth a few millennia of bullshit patriarchy.”


Also, I think I liked that this wasn’t a legit and exact retelling because I don’t always like the story of King Arthur. But this one was refreshing, I guess. I also like that Merlin had to learn about Ari and her strengths and weaknesses.

In that moment, Merlin discovered the weakness of his new Arthur. Ari wasn’t a mindless brute or bully. But she was boldly impatient, and when she wanted to fix something she did it in the fastest way possible.

Merlin learning about Ari

The pacing really threw me off. It made it borderline unenjoyable for me. I hated the one year time jump with no recap of what happened in between. I hate really what happened between Kay, Ari and Gwen after that time jump, or due to what happened before the time jump.

Also, I don’t know if this is the correct terminology to refer to someone who is gender-fluid, but it threw me off a bit. If it’s correct, then it doesn’t need to go here. If it’s not, then I’d put it here.

She ducked along the shadows of the wall and pointed at the first decent-looking human in sight, a dark-haired, razor-edged fluid by the alleyway exit.

Also, I don’t want to say too much about Ketch because it would be a spoiler, but it’s very interesting that the inhabitants of Ketch are descended from Arabs, and they were punished for speaking out against Mercer. It just… kind of felt racially charged to me. Did no other races stand up against Mercer, and why were all the Arabs on one planet when it’s clear that other races were mixed and represented in other planets? Gwen is part Asian and European (of course, we don’t know what kind of either), but for all of Ketch to be straight Arab is highly unlikely to me.

I definitely feel like this was a “it’s not the book, it’s me” type of deal. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if the pacing wasn’t super weird. It just jumped so much and I kept having to go back to reread certain parts because I didn’t see how it flowed. And the other bit about Ketch bothered me as well. It almost felt like a plot device, what happened to Ketch.

14 thoughts on “Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy

  1. You hit three birds with one stone! Or three readathons with one book 😂 I have to say that other than the abundance of diversity/rep in this, I don’t think it sounds very good at all 😅 However, I definitely have a bias because I’m not big on space books like… at all. I’m also SO FREAKING TIRED of reading about Camelot and King Arthur because it seems like almost every single English teacher I’ve ever had has made the class read about him… Like, I am literally reading about him in 2 of my 3 classes right now, lol. With all of that being said though, this was a really good review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank gosh! I know I’m not gonna get this lucky again with all my books in September. I swear it’s like I purposely don’t pick out which books match which prompts ahead of time. Yeah, this is the one that I mentioned that a few people found pretty problematic, and I guess parts of me could see why. I personally did not like the genocide part of the plot for reasons I stated above. Oh gosh King Arthur in 2/3 classes? That’s overload! No wonder you’re tired of hearing about him. I would be too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really hated this book. I can’t stand looking at the cover without thinking, look, it’s really me, not you because I really like the cover. But the content is so terrible especially the characters. I kinda noticed that the authors tried to tick off the diversity checklist and made them seem so foced, and the romance. Oh my god, that was like the worst part about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review Leelynn! I haven’t read this one yet but I was really excited for it when it was about to be released because I mean, a King Arthur retelling in space? It sounds amazing! Since then though I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews and many of them on the not so positive side. I still plan to read it but at least my expectations will be much lower 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Dini! The premise is great! I like that King Arthur was reincarnated as a girl instead, but it just fell so flat for me. I’m bummed because I wanted to like it. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it though! You may like it more than me 😀


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