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? (From Goodreads)
Genre: Contemporary with a bit of fantasy/mystery/adventure thrown in
The Best Bits: Plot and characters, for sure. I think that the idea of Akhet, those who can recall their past lives, is an intriguing one. They have access to lifetimes of knowledge, they don't repeat past mistakes, and they have the opportunity to improve the world around them. Of course, not all are good people, some are using their ability to right past wrongs. The way that Omololu began to explore this power was extremely rich, and I'm looking forward to learning more about them in future books. There was also a great contrast between Cole and Griffon. Cole is a typical teen in that she's a bit unsure of herself, and doesn't quite believe in her gift (who wouldn't start to wonder if they were hallucinating?). Griffon has a much deeper understanding of their ability and it played out nicely over the course of the book.
Nit Picks: I really only have one, and in a way it's one that was probably intentional. I felt like the flashbacks that were relevant to this particular portion of Cole's story were fleshed out, but we only get glimpse's into other past lives. In the interview below, Omololu has written another book in this series. So, I'm looking at it almost like a television series. We get flashbacks that are probably going to come into play in later books and Cole is growing to grow throughout the series. I think it's important for readers to know that, otherwise they are likely to question why only one lifetime was explored while others were shown (but hey, I loved all the flashbacks, just wanted to give everyone the heads up).
By C.J. Omololu
Published by Walker & Company
Received for Review
A huge thanks to Cynthia for stopping by and answering a couple of questions!
Transcendence is about a group of people, the Akhet, who remember all of their past lives and a girl named Cole who is becoming one of them. She meets Griffon, a very old Akhet, right as she begins to transition and he helps her along the way. As their relationship deepens, Cole discovers there is a rogue Akhet who is out to avenge a wrong that they feel has been done to them in a past lifetime and Cole quickly learns that she may not be able to trust anyone. A little bit of mystery and a little bit of romance - it was a lot of fun to write.
2. What inspired the Akhet, those who can recall their past lives?
The idea of reincarnation came to me after a friend's teenaged son died suddenly. I couldn't understand why this wonderful boy was gone, and started to think that the only way it would be okay is if he could someday come back again. This led me to do a lot of research on different theories of reincarnation in various cultures - I took what I liked and left the rest. The idea to call them Akhet and associate them with Ancient Egypt happened when I took one of my kids on a field trip to the King Tut exhibit at a local museum. I saw an ankh mirror in one of the displays and remembered the ankh necklace that I wore for years when I was in my teens - it all just seemed to fit beautifully. All of the words - Akhet, Sekhem, Iawi, etc. have roots in Egyptian words that have meaning that makes sense to the plot. For example, Akhet means the place on the horizon where the sun rises and sets, which to me was the perfect metaphor for reincarnation.
3.The reader gets to see a number of different flashbacks for Cole. Have you considered writing another book where she might explore these past lives?
I loved writing the flashback scenes, but there is so much research involved in writing a true historical that it's a bit daunting. We just wrapped up the second book in the series and there is a deeper exploration of some of her past lives in that story.
4.Your first book for teens, Dirty Little Secrets, was realistic fiction. How did your writing process change for Transcendence, a book which included some fantasy elements?
It's funny, but even though there is a focus on reincarnation, I almost consider Transcendence a contemporary book. As long as you can suspend disbelief in the Akhet, there is no other magic in the book - everything they can do is physiologically possible. Both Transcendence and Dirty Little Secrets required a lot of research on their subjects, but luckily, nobody can come back and tell me that I got the details of reincarnation wrong.
5. Do you have any new projects in the works?
There are always new projects. As I said, we've just finished the second Transcendence book (title still to come) and I really love how it turned out - a continuation of some threads, but a new and exciting story in that world. I'm also working on a few standalone projects on the side - hopefully you'll get to hear about them someday soon.
Alright, I've decided to host a little giveaway. Everyone knows that I loved Dirty Little Secrets, so I thought I'd give that one away as well as her newest release Transcendence! I'll be shipping them through The Book Depository so make sure that they ship to your country (I could also send e-book version, so the winner could potentially choose to go that route). The contest ends in two weeks on July 17, at 11:59 pm EST.