“Clarinet Reid is a pretty typical teenager. On the surface. She’s smart, but a bit of slacker; outgoing, but just a little insecure; not exactly a mischief-maker… but trouble tends to find her wherever she goes. Also? She unwittingly carries a centuries-old Druid Blood Curse running through her veins.”
“Now, with a single thoughtless act, what started off as the Summer Vacation in Dullsville suddenly spirals into a deadly race to find a stolen artifact, avert an explosive catastrophe, save a Celtic warrior princess, right a dreadful wrong that happened centuries before Clare was even born, and if there’s still time—literally—maybe even get a date.”
A historical young adult romance novel filled with supernatural time travel - how much more could I ask for! From the very beginning when I started this book I could tell I was going to be hooked. Clary and her best gal pal Alice are a dynamic duo and their chemistry flows great with the supernatural twists thrown at both of them while visiting Clary’s curator aunt Magda in London, England. Alice or Al as Clary calls her is a mixture of nerd, brainiac and rationalist and Clary is the complete opposite concentrating on landing a date and being popular rather than her studies, although she is just as smart as Al; which is why they make the perfect duo and perfect best friends, never judging each other no matter what.
Lesley Livingston has brought a forgotten time in history to the forefront of Young Adult literature within Once Every Never. Being the history obsessed individual I am, and also wanting nothing more than to work in a museum once I am out of school, this book was absolutely perfect for me, and embodied what I dreamt about as a teenager. I wanted my history books to come alive and time travel me to those places, to meet those people and see them sculpt history. Alas that never did happen to me but Clary she gets more than she can handle in the past and present! Jam-packed with fantastic characters, interesting situations and a fast paced storyline, Once Every Never will sweep you off your feet and hopefully you’ll land about 2,000 years prior.
What I found truly unique and creative in Once Every Never was how Livingston created such a realistic young adult story, with real teenage problems, and a touch of supernatural mystery. The characters and storyline will really draw you in and not let you go until the very last page!
Nerds Are Sexy: I think the title says it all. Nerds. Are. Sexy! Lesley Livingston delivers with characters in Once Every Never; there is definitely no shortage of opposites, especially in Clary’s love interests. We first meet Milo, Alice’s cousin who works and lives in London. He is the a-typical nerd and brainiac Clary remembers from when they were all children playing together, although he has definitely grown into his looks. Tall, blonde, sculpted and yet still obsessed with the “space time continuum” and batman! His opposite we meet later on when Clary “shimmers” (time travels); Connal, an ancient druid warrior is definitely not nerdy, although still appeals to Clary on certain levels. He is basically what a 16-year-old girl daydreams about, instead of the sensitive, adoring nerd right in front of you we have tall, built, bronze skinned druid warrior with a killer smile. I personally found Milo a much more striking character than Connal – perhaps not with looks, but his personality and his nerdy tendency’s really pulled me into him, especially how he was so dedicated to Clary even though he didn’t quite understand her “shimmering” abilities. Milo wanted to protect Clary even though he didn’t know how, Connal it came naturally being a warrior, so it seemed much more romantic when Milo did try. There is definitely never a dull moment in Once Every Never, may it be time traveling to Roman occupied England, or choosing between a 2,000 year old Druid warrior and an attractive 21st century nerd.
History is Exciting: No one ever believes me when I say, “history is exciting” they all look at me like I am some obsessed history student, but finally I have a young adult novel to back me up! Once Every Never makes history exciting for the reader and for Clary! She never knew until she started to time travel that history is A. Important, and B. more than old bones, and rusted swords – that these tools and people were once strong and thriving civilizations. Every time Clary time travelled my heartbeat spiked, and I felt an adrenalin rush because it was always a different experience and never the same for Clary and me. History definitely comes alive with each flip of a page and Lesley Livingston has won my affection for sharing such a beautiful and yet tragic time in history.
A Real Teenager: What I found really unique and appealing in Once Every Never is that Clary, Alice, and even Milo were all real teenagers. Now not to get confused, most young adult books we read has the average teenager, although their situations are never very normal. Clary, not so much Alice, worry about normal things such as if she is going to get a date over the summer, or what she is going to do after she graduates – even though she can time travel she always had boys on the mind it seems, which was refreshing because that is how I normally thought when I was 16! It was a invigorating change of pace to read about normal teenage girl problems, even when Clary “shimmered” to 2,000 years prior the princess’ she meet were having the same teenage problem – “Do you think he likes me?” – which seems to still be a common question among young girls today.
I personally loved this book because of all the qualities above, but I did find many of the characters very accepting of Clary’s abilities not really questioning anything at all. It could have been because of the proof Clary would deliver once asked, but still I would be a bit wary at first. Another thing I did find slightly irritating was the antagonist Stuart Molhort; I thought he could have been a bit more diabolical than he was. Of course the story needed a certain type of villain, one that understands the history and importance of antiquities and artifacts, I just personally thought Stuart could have been MORE evil and not just a glorified thief – it really irritated me hence the 4 out of 5 stars I had given it on goodreads.com.
Nevertheless, Once Every Never is a fantastic read for all ages that will leave you breathless and satisfied all in one spell binding mystical adventure. The witty British humor, the nail biting adventure, and the love affairs all brought together in a magical coming of age story, where one girl finds out who she truly is. Beautifully written, and a gorgeous “shimmering” cover to match, Lesley Livingston delivers a refreshing, and delicious read.