Once & Future

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By Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

“This time, Excalibur chooses her.”

I finally watched Merlin last year. Yes, the BBC version that ended forever ago. Ever since I’ve been hooked on all things Arthurian. When given details about Once & Future, I audiably gasped. This was the book I had always wanted, yet didn’t know I needed.

What I loved most of all was the fact that this was not just a straight retelling; in more ways than one. Yes, its gender bent but with the added element of reincarnation. It was something that reminded me about a play I’d seen in the Globe in which the King in charge of the Crusades was given a second chance and the oportunity not to make the same mistake twice.

Characters

Having Arthur as a woman seems a quick and easy way to put a new book out there. However, it adds so much more to the richness of the tale than that. Ari is not just a gender bent icon. She’s her own person first, with a back story to make anyone weep. She’ll steal your heart and mend your soul while giving you grief.

It’s Merlin’s arrival that brings me the most joy. He is a beautiful character and, for me, the scene stealer from his first arrival. His predicament, his old soul and waining hope is everything you need to wish you were at his side.

Gwen and the knights are stunningly original and powerfully rich in prophesy and lolyalty. You couldn’t have a story without them. Each character is given development, humour and heart.

Story

The story is hot, sexy and unapologicetcally cool. Representation is accounted for, not in some PC checkbox excercise but something so very organic and meaningful. No one is given a label without purpose. Correction, no one is given a label. Gender and sexuality is so freely represented and commented upon that it will keep me, and any reader, happy for many months to come.

The only thing that makes me more intregied is the books final act reveal that will very much change how this organic social structure is considered in the sequel. Something I am very excited to get to.

Writing

The writing is flawlessly engaging. Drama, emotion and action are all presented in smooth and clear ways that will have the reader begging for the follow up the second they finish this first installment.

OtherEarth by @jasonsegel and @banksirregular

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What do you do when your first novel in the Otherworld trilogy is near perfect? Well, you up the stakes of course. And with Jason and Kirstin at the helm, boy do they amp up the pressure!
A year ago, I went on an adventure that surpassed all my expectations. This year, I feel as if my imagination has been hijacked, given an upgrade and thrown onto a high speed rollercoaster. I was a bit worried that we’d be spending too much time out of the simulated world, but it’s actually where the drama and tension can really be found.
Simon has a plan, and he can’t do alone. In what can only be described as a Bond on the run, Simon and his friends locate allies, makes deals with enemies and try to not get the rug pulled from under them too many times.
The plot is such a wonderful treat, its best kept a secret until you read it for yourself, but I will say that there is a gritty realism within the narrative that is a refreshing change from the nostalgia trips other books like this provide. Kristin and Jason are able to provide a commentary on some deep and serious topics, including addiction.
The final act brings a mental health sub plot to a head. It’s something that is so subtle and unobtrusive to the plot that don’t be hard on yourself for it blind siding you.
The only fault I can find it that there wasn’t more of the book to read. It ends in such a way that you’ll be screaming and shouting about it for weeks after. Then, just to escape the fact that there’s a year until OtherLife reaches us, you’ll head back to Otherworld for another trip with Simon.

Otherworld Written by Jason Segel and Kristen Miller

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https://www.change.org/p/yalc-uk-get-jason-segel-and-kirsten-miller-at-yalc-2018?recruiter=752308687&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_term=share_twitter_responsive – Please sign this petition to get Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller over to the UK for YALC.

Release Date: 31.10.2017
Buy it Here
Goodreads
Description:
For fans of Black Mirror and HBO’s Westworld, and readers of James Dashner and Veronica Roth, Otherworld is the first book in New York Times bestselling authors Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller’s new YA sci-fi-thriller series. The future is now. And the future is terrifying.
There are no screens. There are no controls. You don’t just see and hear it–you taste, smell, and touch it too. In this new reality, there are no laws to break or rules to obey. You can live your best life. Indulge every desire.
It’s a game so addictive you’ll never want it to end. Until you realize that you’re the one being played.
Welcome to Otherworld, where reality is dead. Step into the future. Leave your body behind.
The frightening future that Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller have imagined is not far away. Otherworld asks the question we’ll all soon be asking: if technology can deliver everything we want, how much are we willing to pay?

“They forgot nothing real can be perfect.”

Slated for a Halloween release, I couldn’t think of a better time for this pre-dystopic world building cyber novel to enter reader’s lives. Yes, it will make for a spooky read for those inclined during the evening of trick or treat. Yes, it will make for a good Christmas present and yes, you will most likely get a copy from me for Christmas.

To write this review I went back to my Good Reads progress comments thinking that would give me a basis and prompt to write. There were so many quotable moments and I knew I didn’t move from my comfy spot to get some post-its. Alas, I didn’t have much written. In fact, I only updated it 3 times. That’s because I was unable to put the book down long enough to update. Only comfort breaks and the need to appear sociable stopped me from devouring it in one sitting. I guess that just means I’ll have to pick it up for another read shortly.

I came to the novel hoping to have it compete for my love of Ready Player One. What I got was so much more. While Ready Player One is consumed by 80s nostalgia and the society is already accepting of the gaming platform in which the storyline is based, Otherworld is less reminiscent, much more relevant and loaded with foreboding and fear of what this technology could bring. It is a fable and Simon is not the only person on a journey of social and technological discovery.

The thing I love most about this book is that stylistically this is a book that has been missing from my reading life for a long time. It’s a cinematic techno-thriller, worthy of sitting on myself alongside the master of the genre and my favourite author, Michael Crichton and his counterpart Robin Cook. (Interestingly enough, Crichton directed the film Coma, which was written by Robin Cook.) I hope I’m right in thinking that Segel was a fan of the original Westworld growing up. I’d even go out on a limb and say he’s seen Coma. There’s too much passion and a labour of love around the creation of this book for there not to be.

The world building, pace and ‘Coma’-like jeopardy and moral ambiguity all make this a must read that will keep you on tenterhooks right until the last line. It reads like it could be lifted right from the pages and placed onto the screen. Its a story that is inclusive, despite its focus theme. I’m the furthest from a gamer and at no point did I feel Otherworld, Segel or Miller were isolating me from the plot.

There are secondary characters that some may feel are underdeveloped. I would agree to a certain degree; I want to know more about them. However, I would argue that this is realistic of some people we meet online. There is also enough hints to prompt people’s imagination and to also feel for the characters. I suspect the two characters in question will prompt many a fanfic over the next few years.

As the book comes to a close, there is enough of a resolution to satisfy any reader, while the set up for the follow up novel is a nice touch and one that should promote many chats, both online and in person while we wait, as patiently as we can for that second book.

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In the year that you are waiting for the sequel, you might like to try the following:

  • Jurassic Park- Michael Crichton
  • Disclosure- Michael Crichton
  • Coma- Robin Cook
  • Maze Runner- James Dashner
  • The Special Ones- E M Bailey