Author: CJ Omololu
Publisher: Walker & Co
May Contain Spoilers
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?
When I saw that CJ Omololu had a new book, I was eager to discover whether I would enjoy it as much as I enjoyed Dirty Little Secrets. I have to admit that I was a little leery, because the premise of Dirty Little Secrets is so unique. I never ever thought I would read a book about hoarding, but I could not put it down once I started it. I felt so much sympathy for Lucy, the young protagonist, who was left with a moral dilemma after her mother suffers a tragic accident. Does she immediately call EMS, or does she try to hide her mother’s mental illness. Lucy does some shocking things to protect mother’s reputation, as well as to save herself a great deal of humiliation, and I was transfixed from the first page to the last. Even though I didn’t agree with Lucy’s actions, I understood why she was motivated to behave the way she did.
The cover for Transcendence has me instantly transfixed. I love how intensely the models are staring into the camera, and immediately felt a sense that they are both ready to face any obstacle to protect each other. I wondered again what this story would be about. Yes, that’s me admitting that I didn’t really read the plot synopsis; the cover and the author’s name were enough to sell me on this book. So, did it measure up? Yes, I thought it did. Though it lacked the shock factor of Dirty Little Secrets, it also features an extremely likeable protagonist. I think I would like Cole if I met her in real life, and so I wanted to see her emerge successfully from all of her trials. Even when she made a few bone-headed moves later in the story, I at least understood why she acted as she did.
Cole is a musical prodigy, and she has devoted most of her young life to the cello. When the story begins, she is visiting London with her older sister and her father, who is on a business trip. A tour of the Tower of London doesn’t go exactly as planned. Cole passes out after have a vision of herself being beheaded on the Tower grounds. She meets Griffon, a fellow American, when he comes to her rescue. Back home in the States, Cole finds that the visions of the past are getting more intense, and she discovers that she is an Akhet, a person who can remember past lives. As she learns more about her previous lives, it becomes apparent that someone is out to hurt her. Can she trust Griffon, or is he the one she needs to be afraid of?
I loved the premise of Transcendence. What would it be like to be reborn again and again, and to retain the memories of your previous lives. Would you have a moral and ethical obligation to use all of the valuable skills you’ve acquired over the centuries to improve the lot of all mankind? Or do you turn rogue, and live only to suit yourself? In this game, Cole is definitely at a disadvantage. After discovering that she’s not going crazy after all, she learns that Griffon has lived many, many lives, and he’s awakened to his memories long ago. Cole is still awakening, which leaves her confused and uncertain of who she can trust. She doesn’t possess a full picture yet; she’s still struggling to get a handle on the tumult of memories assailing her at the most inconvenient of times.
There were a few times when the romance between Cole and Griffon skated along the ick line. It shouldn’t have, but Griffon has clearly been around for a long, long time. He has been married in other lives, and he’s raised families. While it is slowly becoming clear that Cole has, too, she doesn’t remember them, and that made her seem far younger and much less worldly than Griffon. When I stopped to think about it, it gave me the creeps. Then I started to wonder what it would be like to have had found that one, true love, only to lose them a lifetime ago. What would it be like to be so in love with someone that you were drawn to their essence again and again, or you were consumed with finding their essence again. What would happen if you were Akhet, but the one you loved was not? What if you were old and gray, and your true love was just a child? What if you finally found your soul mate, but they loved someone else in that particular life? The cycles of rebirth could pose a lot of interesting, heartbreaking challenges, and I am curious to see how the author tackles some of these issues in later volumes of the series.
I think I enjoyed Transcendence so much because of how much I liked the protagonist. I was immediately invested in Cole’s lives, both present and past. I was held in an agony of suspense as she tried to make sense of everything that was happening to her. As she learns more about her past, she begins to question her present. She has always cherished her ability to play the cello, but now she feels that she’s been cheating and lying, and that she has an unfair advantage over other musicians. I never thought she was arrogant about her musical gifts, so to see how confused she became only made me like her that much better. I felt a real connection with Cole, and I am looking forward to learning more about both her present and past lives.
Review copy provided by publisher