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YA, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Paranormal Romance, 336 pages, Walker Books for Young Readers
- Series: 1st in Transcendence series
- Pub date: June 5th 2012
- Disclosure: Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!
When a visit to the Tower of London triggers an overwhelmingly real vision of a beheading that occurred centuries before, Cole Ryan fears she is losing her mind. A mysterious boy, Griffon Hall, comes to her aid, but the intensity of their immediate connection seems to open the floodgate of memories even wider.The Long...
As their feelings grow, Griffon reveals their common bond as members of the Akhet—an elite group of people who can remember past lives and use their collected wisdom for the good of the world. But not all Akhet are altruistic, and a rogue is after Cole to avenge their shared past. Now in extreme danger, Cole must piece together clues from many lifetimes. What she finds could ruin her chance at a future with Griffon, but risking his love may be the only way to save them both.
Full of danger, romance, and intrigue, Transcendence breathes new life into a perpetually fascinating question: What would you do with another life to live?
The Tower of London is an intimidating place. On my trip to England when I was 12, I spent an afternoon in London with my parents, wandering Tower Bridge and contemplating Traitor's Gate. We didn't get to go inside--we'd arrived too late in the day to make the entrance fee worth it--but I got a swooping feeling in my stomach just the same. It feels old. You know it's old. And when you feel and know these things, you start to wonder if some essence of yourself had visited before. At least, that's the premise behind Transcendence, and I can't help but feel that there's more to explore in that idea than Omololu manages here.
Having just finished a romance spanning many lives before I started this book--My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares, author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants--I think I know what's wrong. There will never be a time when the idea of a man who has lived before--grown up, fallen in love, had sex, had children, grown old--falling instantly in love with a girl who we are told has experienced these things in past lives which she conveniently doesn't remember, isn't creepy. It's the 50 First Dates factor that accompanies all amnesiac love stories: "Isn't that a little...exploitative?"
Omololu does do her darndest to make it work. Griffon takes a side of sexy and sweet with his creep factor, and Cole's passion for her cello kept her from being bland, even if she occasionally comes across as a few fries short of a happy meal. The Akhet mythology that drives the story isn't exactly original, but it is workable. The subplot between Cole's divorced parents is an awfully cute cliche. And the climax was genuinely surprising. The problem is that there's a whole lot of mediocre in between, and not enough excellent to get it off the ground.
So no, it wasn't for me--but I do need to take the moment to say how fantastic it was to read a multicultural romance between a white girl and a black boy, a pairing that I see so rarely in YA. The fact that we're seeing characters of color trickle in even to the pulpier levels of YA is a good omen.
...and the Short:
A paranormal love story spanning centuries that just can't quite get past the creepier aspects of its mythology.
The Final Word: Meh.