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Monday, October 22, 2012

YA Reincarnation Novel Nothing You Haven't Seen Before ... Dang It.

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When Cole Ryan tours the Tower of London, startling images swamp her mind.  The vision is so vivid, so real that it feels almost like a memory.  Which isn't possible, of course.  The 16-year-old has never been to England before and she's certainly never time-traveled back to the days when beheadings were a common form of punishment.  An overactive imagination—that's the only explanation.  Except that lately, Cole's been haunted by other images.  Everything she sees and touches seems to trigger fuzzy memories of places she's never been and things she's never experienced.  If it's not just her imagination, then the only other possibility is that she's going stark, raving mad.  

Enter Griffon Hall.  Cole's mesmerized by the gorgeous 17-year-old, but she's absolutely dumbfounded when he explains what's happening to her—Cole, he says, is Akhet.  Like him.  These special people not only remember the lives they've lived in the past, but they're tasked with using the wisdom they've gathered over many lifetimes to do good in the present.  Cole wants to dismiss the explanation outright—it's crazy—but everything Griffon says feels true.  She doesn't want this strange ability, but she can't figure out how to make it go away either.  The only way she can really understand it is to embrace it.  

The more Cole remembers, the more apprehensive she grows, especially when her memories seem to warn of danger from her past encroaching on the present.  Cole doesn't know who to trust, especially when she makes a shocking discovery about Griffon.  But how much faith can she put in her murky visions of the past?  Are they reliable?  Is Griffon?  With her life on the line, Cole has to decide what to believe, whom to trust, and how to proceed in a world that is growing increasingly dangerous.

After reading—and loving—C.J. Omololu's first book, Dirty Little Secrets, I couldn't wait to see what the author would do for an encore.  When I read a description of Transcendence, her sophomore effort, I was a little ... surprised.  The plot sounded so generic, so overdone, that I couldn't help but wonder if I really wanted to waste my time on yet another ordinary-teenage-girl-discovers-she-has-supernatural-abilities-and-is-really-a-vampire/angel/werewolf/mermaid/demon hunter/etc.  Since I like Omololu's writing, I figured if anyone could make a stale premise original, it would be her.  And I was right.  Sorta.  The story still felt very familiar, but the writing, at least, seemed above average.  Still, the plot didn't blow me away and I didn't feel any big, cosmic connection to the characters.  The twist at the end did catch me by surprise, so that was nice.  Other than that, though, Transcendence lacked the originality and the heart to really grab me.  I wanted a story as powerful as Dirty Little Secrets and, unfortunately, didn't get it.  Is Transcendence worth the read?  Sure, just don't expect anything you haven't seen before.

(Readalikes:  Every other book in the contemporary-YA-with-a-little-paranormal-thrown-in genre)

Grade:  B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG-13 for language (no F-bombs), violence, scenes of underage drinking/partying, and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

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