Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
Series: Once & Future #1
Published by: Little, Brown and Company
Pub Date: March 26, 2019
Format: e-arc | Source: NetGalley
Genres: young adult, science fiction, retelling, LGBTQ+
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.
I loved this fresh retelling of King Arthur from the opening pages! Merlin was my very favorite- I loved his voice and sense of anachronistic humor along with the tragic depth to his character. I also loved Ari, Val, Morgana, and Gwen in particular. The futuristic setting was so fantastic, and the vast amount of diversity with regard to gender, sexuality, and race was very welcome. There was a lot of humor but also heartache, especially with the Arthur cycles. I so loved the idea of the Arthur cycle and getting to learn more about it. I didn’t realize Once & Future was a duology until late in the game so that was a surprise and the ending left me clamoring for more!
The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman
Series: The Devouring Gray #1
Published by: Disney-Hyperion
Pub Date: April 2, 2019
Format: ARC | Source: borrowed
Genres: young adult, paranormal, LGBTQ+
Branches and stones, daggers and bones,
They locked the Beast away.
After the death of her sister, seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders finds herself dragged to Four Paths, New York. Violet may be a newcomer, but she soon learns her mother isn’t: They belong to one of the revered founding families of the town, where stone bells hang above every doorway and danger lurks in the depths of the woods.
Justin Hawthorne’s bloodline has protected Four Paths for generations from the Gray—a lifeless dimension that imprisons a brutal monster. After Justin fails to inherit his family’s powers, his mother is determined to keep this humiliation a secret. But Justin can’t let go of the future he was promised and the town he swore to protect.
Ever since Harper Carlisle lost her hand to an accident that left her stranded in the Gray for days, she has vowed revenge on the person who abandoned her: Justin Hawthorne. There are ripples of dissent in Four Paths, and Harper seizes an opportunity to take down the Hawthornes and change her destiny-to what extent, even she doesn’t yet know.
The Gray is growing stronger every day, and its victims are piling up. When Violet accidentally unleashes the monster, all three must band together with the other Founders to unearth the dark truths behind their families’ abilities—before the Gray devours them all.
First off, I definitely understand the Raven Boys/Stranger Things/Riverdale comparisons: friend groups, the Upside Down, small towns with secrets, although the Founders ultimately reminded me of Mystic Falls in Vampire Diaries. I kept picturing Augusta as Sheriff Forbes! I really liked the creepy forest, the worldbuilding, and the mystery of the four founding families and their powers. I also appreciated the multiple bisexual main characters and that we got to be in each character’s head at certain points (primarily Violet, Harper, and Justin).
But at the end of the day I didn’t feel the emotions that they were all feeling. I wasn’t connecting with them and didn’t get any shippy feels either. I also think the pacing felt fast- we definitely don’t learn all the answers but it all went quicker than I anticipated, and I found the dialogue kind of wooden. I don’t know, maybe my expectations were too high (which is entirely possible). But I would definitely watch this as a tv show and am interested in reading the sequel!
Are either of these anticipated 2019 titles on your TBR? What do you do when a book doesn’t live up to your expectations? Or when one exceeds them? Let me know!