Once & Future: ARC Review

This ARC was provided to me by the publisher at my request. The following review reflects my unbiased opinion of the story and is no way influenced. Thank you to the publisher, Little Brown/JIMMY PATTERSON Books.

Once & Future
Author: Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy
Publisher: Little Brown/JIMMY PATTERSON Books
Release Date: March 26, 2019
Synopsis: 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.


Rating: Built on solid bones, filled with inclusivity, but suffers from poor marketing of the humorous nature of the story.
Stars: 2.5

I have to start by saying that this book is directly responsible for my decision to completely revamp my review style (a process I’ll be rolling out once I work out the specifics). Never have I been more conflicted over a book. Because I desperately wanted to love Once & Future, but I was so turned off by the never ending attempts at humor. Not to say that I didn’t find some of the bits funny, but in what I thought would be a mostly dramatic book, the constant lighthearted silliness grated on my nerves.

Let’s start with the good: diversity and inclusivity. This book has it in spades. There is representation of pansexuality, bisexuality, disabilities, gender fluidity, asexuality, characters of African descent, homosexuality, and characters of Arab descent. The sexuality of each character isn’t always explicitly stated and if I over or under represented something from the book I apologize. This is the kind of representation that books need. And O&F doesn’t shy away from calling out the sexism and homophobia in our current time.

Once & Future tackles a lot of serious issues: capitalism, genocide, classism, immigration, oppression, and more. The problem is the execution. The book is riddled with fluffy romance and glib humor that kept me from ever getting emotionally involved in anything that was happening. When something serious happened, there was always someone there with a ridiculous remark or a couple making out in the background. Or both. And that didn’t sit well with me because I wasn’t expecting a romcom story. Yes, from the synopsis I thought there’d be funny moments interspersed in a mostly dramatic story. It was the exact opposite and that really effected my reading.

The other issue is one that is hard to address: plotting/execution of the story as a whole. When I was halfway through the book and I started reading some reviews to see if other people were having similar issues as I was getting through the story. I noticed a few people stating that they had seen the authors mention that A LOT of changes were happening before the final book was released. I’m hoping the changes addressed the flow of the book, because that was another big issue for me. The pace was either break neck action or dragging me down with boredom. I could never find a good rhythm in the story and this also kept me from forming any kind of emotions for the story. I just hate to judge this book by something that was most likely fixed in the final version.

But here’s the deal, I’ll read the next book in a heartbeat. The story is set up to go to a whole different level, and since I’ll KNOW that there is going to be a lot of humor, I’ll be able to read it when I’m in the mood for that style. I won’t say where the next book is going, but I am definitely intrigued.

At the end of the day, Once & Future has some solid bones that I think were mostly likely better used in the final version of this book. If you are looking for an inclusive, humorous space adventure, Once & Future is for you.

Oh, and Morgana deserved better.

11 thoughts on “Once & Future: ARC Review

    • Thanks! This review was really hard to write because I so desperately wanted to like it. There was some good in the book, but the bad outweighed it for me. Though I do plan on giving the sequel a try when it comes out since I’ll know more about the author’s style and tone going into it.

  1. As this book is not available in my country but I really, really wanted to read it, I kept following reviews of it to be sure it was worth buying. All of them are bad 😐 It is such a shock. I must admit that right off the bat the idea of a teen Merlin does not convince me but I could have gone past it. However, I see that is not the only problem 🙁

    • Yeah, I was disappointed because I really wanted to like this one. I think the tone of the book is advertised poorly and that probably lead to the poor reviews. I will say that the book steps up for an interesting sounding sequel.

  2. #justiceforMorgana I was so annoyed at her arc!

    and yeah, this one missed the brief for me, the tonal shifts were so bizarre. the couple making out in the middle of battle, I just???

  3. Interesting…. I still may give it a shot just because I like humor in my books although I do agree the reviews have been mixed. But I like everything it tackles. Might be worth the try.

    • I really think that if I had been aware of the humor beforehand this would have been a totally different review. I have to be in the exact right mood for a book that has so much humor in it.

  4. Thanks for the review! I know some people are championing this book because, as you point out, of how well it is representing a whole host of diverse people, but it’s a shame the execution wasn’t better.

  5. I’m so disappointed that people aren’t loving this book! I was so excited for it! I will probably still ending up buying and reading it eventually, but my expectations will not be very high (which could maybe work in it’s favour…).

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