It's been a long time...
Author: Trisha Leigh
Title: Return Once More
Release date: 20th of October 2015
Series: The Historians #1
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Romance, Sci-fi, Historical
Published by: Bloomsbury Spark
Pages: 289 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle
If you could learn the identity of your one true love—even though you will never meet— would you?
Years have passed since refugees from a ruined earth took to space, eventually settling a new system of planets. Science has not only made the leaps necessary to allow time travel, but the process engineered a strange side effect—predicting your one true love.
If you could save your one true love from an untimely death, would you be able to resist?
Sixteen-year-old Kaia Vespasian is an apprentice to the Historians—a group charged with using time travel to document the triumphs and failures of the past—and she can’t resist a peek at her long-dead soul mate in Ancient Egypt. Before she knows it, she’s broken every rule in the book, and the consequences of getting caught could destroy more than just her new romance.
Or would you have the strength to watch him die?
But when Kaia notices a fellow classmate snooping around in a time where he doesn’t belong, she suspects he has a secret of his own—and the conspiracy she uncovers could threaten the entire universe. If her experience has taught her anything, to changing history means facing the consequences. The Historians trained her to observe and record the past, but Kaia never guessed she might have to protect it— in a race across time to save her only chance at a future.
On the outside this potentially looks like another recipe for an irritating heap of illogically established suppressive regime topped with a special snowflake unexplainably badass heroine dystopia overdramatic annoyance. The True match trope and the surprisingly positive reviews, however, made me pick to book up and, I’m a person who’s not afraid to admit when she’s wrong, I ended up really loving this story. I guess, it has something to do with the fact that it’s not 100% dystopian, it’s walks the line, but the historical aspects, being heavily slanted towards sci-fi and the charming romance part had me forgetting that it does share some traits with my most disliked YA genre.
I actually really liked the heroine, Kaia, yes, she made some selfish and questionable choices, but they were all in the scope of believable and even reasonable in her state of mind, considering all the suspiciousness in the academy, unexplainable occurrences and people close to her acting all hush-hush and making extremely questionable decisions. Plus, she was a rebel at heart and I appreciated it not coming across as forced, breaking some rules kind of came naturally to her and worked well with the setting. Her taking action, being bold and not this goody goody girl whose transactions are totally out of character, were things I enjoyed about her. I’m also truly surprised that I didn’t find her face-palm-worthy in any scene, even when she made capital errors.
From other characters, I was intrigued by Kaia’s brother Jonah, the actual and initial rebel in the family, and to deepen my impatience to know more, my questions didn’t end up finding answers to the mystery of what he was really up to, at least not in the first book. Kaia’s other friends were kind of just there and for plot purposes only, at the moment, but I guess they will be given actual noticeable characteristics along in the series. Oz, the True companion of one of Kaia’s friends, was the inspiration for Katy Perry’s song “Hot and Cold,” because that’s how he came across, at least from Kaia’s perspective, I’m, however, in no way whining, because he was a total rubrics cube, intriguing and addicting, but frustrating all the same. As with Jonah, I wasn’t fully clear on what he is really up to and with whom does he actually stand.
The romance between Kaia and her True match, the already over two thousand years dead Egyptian soul mate, was somewhat fairy tale-like, a tragic one, but fairy tale nonetheless. Even though, technically, their love story felt superficial and too insta-love, emotionally, it didn’t feel unreal and out of the blue. There was something natural about their connection, despite the low amount of short meetings, more kissing than talking and the humongous time and culture difference. There wasn’t much development for his character, though the author tried quite admirably to flesh him out, but it didn’t bother me since he was supposed to be this dream guy and tragic love interest. And knowing too much might tarnish the fantasy. To be totally honest, I actually rooted for another guy…
Beware that this book ends with a gasp-worthy cliff-hanger, which I kind of suspected, because the topic in question had so many details off, that there was bound to be something very smelly fishy there. And voila, the end revelation filled the gaps in my suspicion, then again, it in turn was responsible for creating a million more. Oh, well, I can’t complain, because I’d gladly read more from this series.
The world created for the story was excellent, the world-building was detailed, made sense, at least, when not diving in too deeply (then it didn’t, of course, anymore, to some degree) and, overall, wasn’t too crowded with information or difficult to grasp and fall into due to being too foreign or illogical in its base concept. The mystery of what shady dealings were going on in the academy and amongst the historians, unfolded very effectively, holding the tension high, and I was kept guessing with Kaia till the picture was made cleared bit by bit. The notion of one’s True match, however, pegged some questions, like how do they have the DNA of every living persona who has ever been born, but I found the idea quite romantic, entertaining and possessing a huge potential for epic star-crossed or true eternal happiness love, so I tried not to nit-pick.
I was quite impressed by how authentic the historical details and backgrounds came across. Instead, as many other YA authors opt to do, the story showed and didn’t tell. The far back in time events, places and people felt real in the context of the book and I got the impression that the characters actually were in a time long before their own, not just told that and having to unquestionably believe that it’s so. Information snippets about the weather, air, clothes, buildings, politics, etc, were enough to successfully make me convinced about the exotic and historical locations, without falling to the black hole of too technical and descriptive. There has to be more than just saying the story takes place here or there, eg. with Paris as the setting, several authors I’ve read, simply mention the Eiffel Tower, and that is deemed sufficient to make the reader feel it, but more elaborate writing and appropriately created atmosphere has to be there to enforce that belief as well.