“Hope is the food of the foolish. Eat up, kiddos.”
Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
While Once & Future was definitely a space opera, it wasn’t constrained by its setting. Everywhere from funky moon bases to planet-wide renaissance fairies to dusty post-apocalyptic wastelands were featured, each new environment unique and compelling. Amy Rose and Cori’s universe feels real, and while I wasn’t always clear on its rules, I knew just enough to believe in its magic.
The unapologetic and joyful queerness in Once & Future is what made it a stand out to me at first. Their identities were neither used as a trope, plot device, or punishable offense. Queer love and expression were central to the novel, showing the reader a world where it just isn’t a big deal anymore, the only oppression memories from Merlin’s past that are skimmed over at best.
Ari and Merlin were compelling main characters, though the former tended to appear flat when compared to the ages-old wizard with a tragic backstory. Ari came into her own closer to the end of the novel, but was still an important player (the important player) throughout the whole novel.
Overall, actually in love couple Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capetta have written a perfect YA novel that’s fun, diverse, and meaningful, with plenty of magic and swords to keep it interesting. While a reincarnation of King Arthur may not seem like the most original idea, the way Amy Rose and Cori have written it is completely unique and fantastically surprising. Once & Future is neon bright and mind-blowingly cool, packed with loveable characters and enough rebelling against The Man for any reasonable teen.
- “Fashion came and went, but Merlin had always believed that jeans – like cockroaches – would survive into any possible future.”
- “That’s what resistance looks like, Merlin. It’s not one glorious, shining victory. It’s a torch that you keep burning, no matter what.”
- “We can play battles and knights and kings, but in the end, we just want to exist.”
- “A girl they couldn’t control, who wouldn’t stop talking. That’s the scariest damn thing in the universe.”
Review by: Ivy
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