Thursday, April 5, 2012

Review: Transcendence (Omololu)

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AUTHOR: C.J. Omololu
SERIES: none announced, but ending is open for sequel
PUBLISHER: Walker and Company
ISBN: 9780802723703
PAGES: 336
SOURCE: publisher's ARC
GENRE: paranormal romance
GIVE IT TO: HS, upper-MS
SUMMARY: On a spring break trip to England, teen cello prodigy Cole Ryan blacks out and has a vision of an execution that took place centuries before. When she comes to, Cole is greeted by Griffon, a mysterious boy with who she has an instant connection.

REVIEW: Honestly, Transcendence was just okay for me. It has some page-turning moments (mostly toward the end), but it also has some really slow moments (mostly the first 2/3 of the story). The story starts quickly on the steps of the Tower of London, where Cole has her first vision and meets Griffon. That part had me looking forward to the rest of the story. Once Cole returns to San Francisco, however, barely anything happens for quite awhile save a LOT of info-dumping conversations that really could have been more spread out.

Cole's character is okay to me, though her insecurity and whining did get on my nerves. While Griffon's mother Janine seems pretty trustworthy, I had trouble with Griffon's character almost immediately. Like many YA romantic male leads, Griffon displays stalker tendencies. For example, he first meets Cole in London but just happens to live within minutes of Cole's San Fransisco home. He turns up in the background of several London vacation photographs, which clearly demonstrates he has been following Cole around. When Cole and Griffon start dating each other, he disappears for days at a time with only a cryptic explanation of his whereabouts. He is caught listening outside her window on more than one occasion. He warns her away from a close friend, saying she is dangerous and not to be trusted. When Cole doesn't want Griffon to carry her expensive cello, Griffon retorts, "Now you don't trust me enough to carry your cello?" (She relents, and he drops it.) While these odd behaviors do bother Cole some, she dismisses them easily when Griffon gives her a weak explanation. For such a smart girl who knows she may be in danger, Cole sure doesn't question much.

The concept of remembering previous lives is unique and interesting, but I had difficulty believing that so many lives from the exact same time and place more than 400 years ago converge in this particular San Francisco location, at this particular time, among people who just happen to run into each other randomly. Griffon explains to Cole that Akhet can live at any time, any place in the world. So why are so many of them teenagers who live in San Francisco right now? Why were all of Cole's visions from one specific past life when she has presumably had multiple past lives?

For much of the book, I was unimpressed with the characters and the story; however, about 60 pages from the end, the mysteries of the past and present converge, making for a page-turning and suspenseful finale. The story can stand alone, but Omololu leaves a few intriguing loose ends open for a possible sequel. Despite my boredom with a good portion of the book, one particular plot thread has piqued my interest enough that I might actually read the sequel.

THE BOTTOM LINE: An interesting concept isn't enough to completely save this unevenly-paced paranormal thriller, but now that readers have the basic background, a possible sequel has potential. I recommend Transcendence as an additional purchase for most middle and high school libraries.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We don't have it, and I do not plan to purchase it.

READALIKES: Ruby Red (Gier), Katana (Gibson)

  • Overall: 3/5
  • Creativity: 4/5
  • Characters: 3/5
  • Engrossing: 2/5
  • Writing: 3/5
  • Appeal to teens: 3/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 3/5
  • Language: none
  • Sexuality: mild; some kissing and passionate embraces/touching
  • Violence: mild; a beheading and a suicide in the past, but details are not gory
  • Drugs/Alcohol: mild; teens drink beer at a party

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