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Once & Future is a mix off BBCs Merlin, She-Ra and the princesses of power and Guardians of the Galaxy. I originally wanted to give this 4 stars but there were some things that really threw me off the further I got into the story.

But first the great things about the start of the series.
The Set-up is really fun and original. King Arthur is set to reincarnate again and again until he/she unites humankind and brings about peace together with his magician Merlin who remains the same except that he ages backwards which each reincarnations. This causes the newest incarnation to be set in space in the future. Merlin is a teenager by now and Arthur reincarnates as Ari, a woman fleeing from the Mercer company that rules entire galaxies. It’s an original and great set up and in my opinion what makes this a great start of the series.

The relationships are well written. You cheer for these characters, their friendships are highly enjoyable to read and actually humorous. I really liked Ari and Merlin’s dynamic. However, I did mind a few tiny things and this time it’s not the character development which was actually good. It was how the characters were introduced. Usually, in the occasional YA novel, you meet characters alongside the main character. Here our main character, Ari, is already familiar with all of these characters, even her love interest, which caused me to not be as invested in these dynamics. Don’t get me wrong Ari and Gwen’s romance was nicely written but I wanted to see the start of that romance so badly and I got frustrated that so many start of relationships were told and not shown to me. So the eventual “twist” (SPOILER) that Gwen slept with Kay didn’t shock me as much, however I did find myself getting angry at it instead of the main character.

The only character who needed to meet our new band of knights was Merlin himself but even that was incredibly rushed, even his relationship with Val. Which brings me to the next issue I had with this book: the pacing. The book moves incredibly fast. We move from mission to mission each chapter, characters don’t even get a moment to breathe or to process things and there’s already another disaster on the horizon. This book could’ve easily been divided into more sections/novels. I’m a fan of fast paced plots but even this went too fast for me. Characters or even the reader don’t get enough time to process things. I wanted more moments of peace between characters, I wanted more moments with Ari and Merlin, I wanted more romantic moments as well because it would’ve made me love their dynamics more. There is this moment where Val and Merlin are standing on a balcony where Merlin mentions that he and Val kept throwing glances at each other from across the room throughout the year. But I didn’t want to be told that. I wanted the book to show me that these two couldn’t keep their eyes of each other, I wanted the book to show me they were interested in each other instead of telling me. Their romance doesn’t even get a set up. They just meet and immediately they tell others they’re interested in the other one. Aside from ONE conversation they have, I wanted more that established that these two connected and fell in love with each other.
The same goes for Gwen and Ari. At one point near the end of the book Kay mentions personal things to Ari that Gwen told him. Things she could’ve shared with Ari but didn’t. She shared them with him and I’m then supposed to believe again in Ari and Gwen’s romance? (okay I’m getting angry again)

So many things happened in this book that I continuously needed to putt it down to progress what happened because the plot didn’t allow me too. The one year jump especially really threw me off and was unnecessary in my opinion. The ending as well takes a quick turn. SPOILER Suddenly there is talk about time travel in just one chapter + NO character is surprised that they can do time travel all of the sudden and this is all shoved into one last chapter. This could’ve been introduced, explained and furthered in multiple chapters. I wouldn’t have mind because this especially made my feelings about the novel turn more negative than positive.

There are still great things about the story though. There is a lot of LGBTQ representation and I won’t mention all of it because it would spoil a lot about ending.

The characters are great, funny and very lovable.
Plus: look at that BEAUTIFUL cover!

And finally, it’s a (gay) retelling of King Arthur in SPACE, what more do you need?

Reacties op: King Arthur retelling in space!

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Once & Future - A.R. Capetta Cory McCarthy
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