Friday, June 24, 2011

Once Every Never by Lesley Livingston

I've been meaning to read a book by Canadian young adult author Lesley Livingston for awhile having heard many good things about her Wonderous Strange Trilogy, so when I had the opportunity to read her latest book, Once Every Never, I immediately took it. It is the story of Clarinet Reid- yes, that is really her name, her parents were musicians- who at first glance appears to be a normal teenager. After throwing a big party her parents have sent her to spend the summer with her aunt, a museum curator in London. Luckily, her best friend Alice is there with her, and she just so happens to have a cute genius cousin named Milo. However, what starts off as a dull summer at a museum gets a lot more interesting when it turns out Clare is able to time travel by touching specific artifacts centuries back in time. As Clare tries to figure out how to control her ability and what it means for history, she can't help but be distracted by a few things such as an upcoming war, a stolen artifact, and the two handsome men that have recently entered her life.

Livingston recently announced that Once Every Never will be a trilogy, and although I am intrigued enough to pick up the next books which are tentatively titled Every Never After and Now and For Never, I was very happy to read a novel which can easily stand on its own as a full story and without an insane cliffhanger ending. Instead, Livingston saves the insanity for the unexpected and exciting story centered around real history so incredible the reader's first instinct is to think it is fiction. What I loved about Once Every Never was the history, I learned so much Druids and the Iron Age and Celtic heritage, and I did all of it without any of it being dull. Livingston captured the adventure, and by sending her main character back in time, the reader is able to gain insight into the period from the perspective of a contemporary, typical, teen.

The main issue I had with the novel was the difficulty following the story at times. Occasionally, Livingston seemed to get distracted by details resulting in writing that confused me and which I had to read multiple times in order to understand what was happening. I also honestly didn't feel any strong attachment to most of the characters in the book. Clare, despite her terrible name, was a fairly normal teenager although the absence of her parents and their clear wealth set her apart slightly. Alice and Milo were both described as big nerds, with the appropriate Star Wars and computer jokes thrown in to give them credibility. However none of the characters really elicited an emotional reaction from me, even when their lives were at risk. Perhaps I am just unfeeling, but I was craving a little more character depth and development to fully connect me to the story.

Although at times I wanted more from the characters, what this book really comes down to is a strong and exciting storyline, one that is jam-packed with adventure, romance, history, basically anything you could ever want from a thrilling novel. The best part about Once Every Never is how seamlessly Livingston integrates fact and fiction together, tying history and the present together with a unique and exciting spin.

Release Date: July 1st 2011
Pages: 336
: ARC from Publisher

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