Title: Once & Future
(Once & Future #1)
Author: Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Publish Date: March 26, 2019
Murder, Genocide, Torture
Gay/Lesbian, Asexual, Chinese, Arab, Black,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.