Instead of a Book Round Up, I want to focus on one single novel that I feel the current Young Adult market has been starving for, it is also a good example for new and up-coming writers to learn from. I hope you pick up Once & Future and read it all in one sitting, and love it as much as I did.
Reasons why you should read it:
1) It's an in your face LGBT retelling of the King Arthur myth. (Click here for an article I wrote about Legendary Swords).
2) There are knights and dragons in space. It works and it is beautiful.
3) There is a lesbian relationship that includes a marriage and a family.
4) This book is about families.
5) It's face-paced.
6) The book addresses preferred pronouns and homophobia in an unapologetic way. If you can't accept humans as human, then get out of the galaxy.
7) Merlin as a teenager. Get it Merl!
8) Arthur as a teenage girl. Get it girl!
9) It has comedy.
10) Butch knight's kicking butt and taking names.
Reasons to forgive this book:
1) Leaves room for the reader's imagination to fill in details that are lacking.
2) It's quick! As soon as the inciting incident slaps readers in the face, it's like dropping the flag aaaaaand they're off!
3) Sweet Lesbian Love. There is not enough of f/f relationships in fantasy and sci-fi.
4) It's very anti-patriarchy, and ultra conservatives won't likely enjoy this book, but it's a fresh breeze for the Young Adult category. Adult categories could learn a thing or two from this.
Reasons not to forgive this book:
1) These are authors that know better. This breathlessly face-paced book almost had me putting it down because the characters are thrown at you and there is zero adjustment period, or what we writers call "effective pacing". This story happens so fast and there is SO MUCH going on, that it really should not have been crammed into 86,000 words. This one book could have been three. That's how much happens. This is way too much.
2) Relationships take time and this cast is too big. To give meaningful feeling to large casts of characters that have complex and deep relationships (ala Throne of Glass series), you need to have space and there just isn't any here, even though it is set in space. So I get the feeling of deep relationships, but in the way I can get from reading tumblr. GIVE ME MORE.
3) Lack of description. We get just a base sprinkling of settings. There's a whole bit about a queen's tourney (yes, in space) that I couldn't get into as there wasn't enough description to suspend disbelief thereby injecting readers into the moment. Also, people are not jousting in a desert in full armor. Did you see that movie where crusaders were literally baked inside their chainmail and plate? Yeah, it's not happening.
So, overall, I love the LGBTness of this book. I love that it is gender bent. I love crazy teenage Merlin. I give it a 5 stars for that, because there needs to be more books like this, but as a writer, looking to learn from what I read, this one deserves some criticism, especially because it has two very successful authors responsible for the work. This book had some glaring mistakes, but also fabulous content. I just wish the space had been given on the page to make the characters shine like the stars they are and create an immersive galaxy that is all-consuming.
Here's where you can get more information and behind the scenes interviews with the authors: