Author: Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson
Series: The Order of Legends
Released: 2024-01-20
Publisher: Gollancz

Whatever its intent, this book is mid- to upper-YA, not Adult despite what Illumicrate claims (which is where I got my copy).

By Adult standards, it would be three stars. The two main characters are young in every way: they’re physically young, they act young, they think young, their decisions are made based on the limited knowledge of someone young. Even Obi, a seasoned time traveler who should have a bigger impact on the adventure. The writing feels aimed at a high school level, not because of the words used but because many things just weren’t as delved into as they would be in an adult book and a lot of events felt they had only surface-level depth.

But, I rated this book as a Young Adult book, because that’s what it is. I read it with YA standards in mind, and enjoyed it by those standards.

The Principle of Moments is a book where the story happens to the characters. The plot is already decided by a prophecy, and Asha and Obi don’t actually make any decisions. Everything that occurs in the book are things happening to them, to which they react. There’s nothing inherently bad about that, but there also isn’t a lot of tension. In many adult books, the theme would be the heroes attempting to throw off their assigned fate and the consequences of that, but in this one the resistance is barely there before they drift along with the flow.

The romance was, again, very YA. While Obi’s felt genuine because it was pre-established, Asha’s felt awkward because there wasn’t any chemistry. A fated romance simply takes more time than this book had to effectively establish.

By YA standards, the story itself is enjoyable enough. I feel like the “adult” label might have been put on it by Illumicrate to excuse how long it is, since YA books are shorter, and there were genuinely places where I skipped paragraphs at a time over multiple pages because nothing in them felt important. Some sections I could tell were meant to give the characters depth either had very little to do with what was going on, reflected very little on the character, or were just the same re-hashed inner monologues already previously visited. Repetition in these moments weighed down the story.

I did find some errors, but nothing too bothersome. Throughout most, the writing was a good mix of prose and dialogue, and it was clear and easy to understand.

Some reviews have complained that the book is confusing, but it feels like it’s meant to be that way. Most of the information gleaned throughout the book felt like it was just standalone bits of info, but it all crystalized together in the final pages. I felt that technical aspect was well done, as the three stories were, eventually well braided together into a single final thread.

I’m not a person who minds a more passive-feeling story, as long as I know what I’m getting into, and that’s generally what prophecy stories are. So aside from the inner-monologue parts I had to skip, I genuinely enjoyed the story. I’ll certainly be picking up book 2 when it comes out.

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