I’m glad that my DNFing of a book I thought was terrible only thirty pages in led to me picking this book up much, much sooner than I would have otherwise, because I really enjoyed myself, despite some nitpicks I have with this, mostly to do with the author being a debut author, and an extremely young one. Overall, she feels like an author who could have some really, truly great books down the line.
This book, which the author started writing when she was in high school, is about three people whose fates are tied together through the ages. There is a prophecy, there is time travel, there are anti-monarchy gay English princes. Most of it takes place split between two timelines: the far future in 6066, and in Regency England 1812. And all of it centers people of color. The author, a self-identified Black nerd girl, wrote this book because it’s the kind of story she loves*, and she wanted to write a story with someone like her inside of it. The joy and imagination is just brimming from this thing, but at the same time that also works to its detriment. The structure and plot are a little overly complicated, and it definitely reads like a debut.
*She is clearly a massive Doctor Who fan.
I find myself feeling similarly towards this book as I did when The Bone Season, Samantha Shannon’s precocious debut, popped up on the scene. This is a person who can write, and will write some bangers in the future, but they do need some more time to mature before that can happen. I do like this book a lot better than I liked The Bone Season, though, for a couple reasons. First, this is a nerd in her element, having fun with her imagination, whereas Shannon went pretentious with it. She eventually learned to reign those instincts in, but nerdy joy is always going to win out over pretentiousness with me. Second, Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson is writing not just about people of color in a market (sff) that doesn’t see many women even get a chance to succeed, but she’s also writing in science fiction and adventure, two genres that are white male-dominated. There were A LOT of special girl falls in love with dark brooding guy who should be an enemy books even back in 2013, and there just aren’t that many fun adventure books that play with romance and time and obscure physics concepts. It feels fresh.
Anyway, all that long-windedness to say that I think this is a book worth checking out, and I can’t wait to see what this author does in the future.
(the cover, however, is terrible; i personally don’t like the look of it, but also, it makes the book seem like a middle grade story, a story for young readers, when really it’s more of an all-ages story and is categorized as adult)
[3.5 stars, rounded up]