Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: Transcendence

C.J. Omololu
Paranormal-ish Young Adult
336 pages
Walker & Company
Available Now
Received from publisher through Netgalley

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
When a visit to the Tower of London triggers an overwhelmingly real vision of a beheading that occurred centuries before, Cole Ryan fears she is losing her mind. A mysterious boy, Griffon Hall, comes to her aid, but the intensity of their immediate connection seems to open the floodgate of memories even wider.

As their feelings grow, Griffon reveals their common bond as members of the Akhet—an elite group of people who can remember past lives and use their collected wisdom for the good of the world. But not all Akhet are altruistic, and a rogue is after Cole to avenge their shared past. Now in extreme danger, Cole must piece together clues from many lifetimes. What she finds could ruin her chance at a future with Griffon, but risking his love may be the only way to save them both.

Full of danger, romance, and intrigue, Transcendence breathes new life into a perpetually fascinating question: What would you do with another life to live?

Transcendence starts out strong, an emotional and violent vision assaulting our heroine as she wanders the Tower of London with her sister serving to yank us into the story as we can't help but wonder how a woman with so tragic a fate as the one in the vision is linked to sixteen year-old Cole. Things continue in a rather fascinating vein from there, numerous flashbacks to both the woman facing public execution as well as a young Italian immigrant with an extraordinary talent for music keeping our attention glued to the pages as we look for the clues that will link everything together. Certain aspects of the story we see coming, however Ms. Omololu also manages to toss a few surprises in the mix to keep us sufficiently on our toes, and we make our way quickly and easily to the end, enjoying asking ourselves the “what if” questions that inevitably accompany ruminations on reincarnation and past lives.

Much like the story itself, Cole makes a memorable first impression as we're tossed around in the temporal confusion of her past and present lifetimes with her, and we share in her desire to figure out who these two young women were and what exactly happened to them. She’s adorably awkward with Griffon in the beginning, checking her phone an absurd number of times to see if he’s called and hyperaware of his every movement, but about midway through she starts to shift forms – going from an interesting young woman with a sweet crush to a more stereotypical young adult heroine who makes rash decisions and jumps to drastic conclusions without taking a moment to truly think things through.

While some behaviors can be given a bit of a free pass due to her young age and the enormity of the pressure she’s suddenly under given the new memories dominating her life, there’s one particular instance with regard to Griffon toward the end that elicits a groan from us as she does the exact opposite of what we’d like her to do. Her best friend Rayne thankfully is a voice of reason, pointing out Cole’s dramatics to her and acting as a logical devil’s advocate, and though it falls on deaf ears, we at least take comfort in her more level-headed nature. Granted, should Cole have approached the situation logically and with a tad more maturity, the climactic conclusion might not have been quite so action-packed, but there are times when the desire for a teenage character to demonstrate rationality far outweighs the need for a dramatic showdown.

Despite the drawback of Cole’s behavior toward the end, Transcendence is a story with legs – the intricacies of reincarnation opening up a myriad of possibilities and guaranteeing us an entertaining journey as Cole’s memories come trickling back bit by bit. The sneak peek of book two at the end promises emotional upheaval for our two young (or old depending on how you look at it) protagonists moving forward, and that promise stays with us after we finish – a glorious taunt to ensure we come back for more.

Rating: 3.5/5


  1. There are so many possibilities with the sequel due to the reincarnation angle-I can't wait to see the cover and pick up the book!

  2. I think the premise of this book is strong, just like you said But I was way too annoyed with Cole for most of the times. I know that those protagonists are all Teenager yet, I am used to a little more maturity. Naive or not, I couldn't fully connect with the characters and fall for them. I hope the second books goes a little deeper!

  3. Thanks for bringing another super interesting book to my attention Jenny! The premise sounds amazing! And I love it when authors leave teasers for the next book, I hope you don't have to wait to long for the next installment! Great review Jenny! :)

  4. Ohh, I know the "what if" questions -- they're common in a lot of books, although they're definitely more popular in reincarnation stories! It's such a cool topic to explore, but it's one of the hardest. I think I'm going to like Rayne as the voice of reason -- it's nice to have someone in the book voicing your problems with the heroine's actions! x)

    Beautiful review, Jenny! :) <3

  5. This sounds interesting although I'm not totally convinced. Especially because you're not 100% on the book. I do like that the cover isn't whitewashed - although it's actually not a very good cover. The characters look freaked out, not handsome/pretty.

  6. Bookworm - I agree, I loved that aspect of this book:)

    Danny - You know you and I are on the same page with this one. I really liked Cole in the beginning, but then when Griffon became a more constant presence, she turned into the same girl I've seen again and again. I still have high hopes for book 2 though:)

    Jasprit - I love when they give us teasers too, even as they torture me:)

    Mimi - Yes! Though Rayne wasn't it it much, I really appreciated her trying to talk sense into Cole. She said all the things I wanted to say to her myself:)

    Alison - I'm definitely not 100% on the book, but I did enjoy the reincarnation. I just wanted Cole to not be the same type of girl I've seen again and again.

  7. I was thinking of picking this one up :)
    Very informative review

  8. Wow Jenny- awesome review! This one sounds pretty good...not sure if Ill read it anytime soon, but I do like premise and the cover.. :)

  9. I love anything in London especially Historical London. Also, the supernatural aspect...I think I'd like this one. I love how you describe Cole and how you state that this is a "story with legs."

  10. I've only tried a couple of stories about reincarnation, and I love the cover for this one, so I'm going to add it to my list.

    Though it is very irritating to find a character taking illogical risks just to create chaos in the conclusion.

  11. Krazzy - Glad it was helpful:)

    Tina - Thanks! The premise was fantastic, I'm really excited to see where it goes, I just want Cole to mature a bit more. I'm sure she will:)

    Pam - The flashback to the woman at the Tower was my favorite part, I definitely want more of that storyline in the next book:)

    Missie - Yes, I would have gladly taken Cole acting rationally and stopping to think over the dramatic conclusion in this case. Still enjoyed it though:)

  12. You know, as much as I enjoyed the story I could really grasped the point as to why they have the powers. I mean, the characters and plot were good but I wanted to see more of the bigger picture. Lovely review Jenny, as always :)

  13. This book is new to me. I like the premise, especially the whole visit to the Tower of London and past lives, but I'm not sure I deal with anymore characters that pretty much do the opposite of what we would like them to do. I guess that is one downfall to YA literature since teenagers are always making rash decisions. I know I did. ha. Thanks for the great review, Jenny!

  14. "Midway through she starts to shift forms – going from an interesting young woman with a sweet crush to a more stereotypical young adult heroine who makes rash decisions and jumps to drastic conclusions without taking a moment to truly think things through." Aw man! Why do authors do this?!

    I like the premise of this so I'll probably see if it's available at the library. It's nice that some parts of it are predictable but there's also some surprises. It's never fun to know everything before the MC.

  15. Reincarnation seems to be a popular theme this year. I am fascinated by the Tower of London and it's sordid history so that aspect would be great but I know this is shallow but I don't like the cover, it is just weird and then a heroine that makes stupid decisions..ugh! Though you say the story has legs, interested to see where they carry the next book.

  16. Can I say I love that the cover is not white-washed! How wonderful to see a mixed couple on the front of a YA novel--YEAH!

    Reincarnation is such a fascinating thing and I am sure the story could go so many ways :)

    Great Review!

  17. Reincarnation is something I always find interesting, but the character not acting rationally, just making stupid choices really turns me off. Going by other reviews as well as yours I'm not sure its one I would enjoy. Thanks for the great review!

  18. Savy - I'm hoping we get more information about their abilities as well. I have a lot of questions I'm hopeful book 2 will answer for me:)

    Christina - Very true, but there have been a few characters out there who have surprised me with their maturity, and I always gravitate toward that. Could be because I'm an older reader of YA and have forgotten some of the rash decision I made when I was younger:)

    Z - I don't know! I really liked her in the beginning as well, and then she did what she did, and I had trouble with her after that. Still, she's got potential so I'll be sticking with the series:)

    Heidi - I think it does have legs, there are a lot of interesting aspects to the reincarnation, and the preview for the next book was super intriguing:)

    Felicia - Right? I loved that about it as well:)

    Candace - I find it super interesting too, I just wanted more from Cole. The vision in the tower had me hooked instantly and then things deteriorated a bit when Cole became a more typical teenage heroine.

  19. Elegant review Jenny! I often see characters act impulsively without thinking. So much drama and heartbreak can go away from making thoughtful choices. Thanks for bringing my attention to Trancendance, it sounds like a decent and exciting story!

  20. I try not to get annoyed by overly-teenaged behavior (knowing I was an irrational mess when I was a teen) but it can get really frustrating when you have to read about a character making the same stupid mistakes over and over. Thank goodness for good friends who are the voice of reason!

  21. going from an interesting young woman with a sweet crush to a more stereotypical young adult heroine who makes rash decisions and jumps to drastic conclusions without taking a moment to truly think things through

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Don't we already have enough of *those* girls floating around? ;)

  22. Ohhh reincarnation :D Now that I would like more of in books

  23. That's a better review of this book than the other I read. So maybe I'll give it a go. Reincarnation is always complicated when one remembers and the other doesn't. But still, I like to see the past lives. Especially when one is getting beheaded! Great review of the highlights and low ones too!


  24. Okay, I've been curious about this book ever since I saw the cover. Now I really want to read it. I also don't think the stereotypical behavior or annoyance of Cole at the end will bug me as much now that I'm prepared for it. This also sounds like a book that has a lot of potential as the series goes on.

  25. I tried this one and just couldn't get into it. I ended up DNFing it. I'm kinda glad that I stopped before Cole's character shifts happened. I absolutely can't stand the stereotypical character, especially with the heroines who initially are different.

  26. Lovely review Jenny. I'm not into reincarnation stories or ones where the heroine makes stupid decisions. It frustrates me to no end. :)