Clarinet Reid, or Clare as she prefers to be called, is sent to live with her aunt in London after a party gone awry. Joined by her best friend Al, along with Al’s uber-nerd-turned-hottie-nerd cousin Milo, the trio find themselves in some dire predicaments when Clare accidentally discovers she can transport back in time. Between trying to retrieve a stolen artifact to saving lives, all while not altering the course of history too much, Clare is in for a bumpy ride with her newly-found skill.
My immediate reaction upon starting this book was a good ol’ chuckle at the name of the protagonist. Cute and dorky at the same time, this former band geek certainly appreciated it. I didn’t think I’d find the subject matter of Druids and Celtic princesses very interesting, but Livingston made it quite compelling. With the use of time travel, Once Every Never reads like a sci-fi historical fiction contemporary hybrid.
I did find Clare at times to be a bit too dense to be endearing, and Al & Milo a bit too extreme in the other direction. Clare’s “slacker” vibe of not being very academic worked well with the exposition of information coming from the other two but it felt a bit times to be too much “telling Clare” about the history. There’s also a certain level of suspending your disbelief when it involves sci-fi elements. Clare speaks to the people from the past in a very modern colloquial way and while there are some jokes about what certain words mean, they seemed to basically understand everything she’s saying and referring to. Keeping that in mind, time travel is a very difficult thing to plot and write, but Livingston succeeds at keeping things straight for the readers. Clare jumps back and forth throughout different points in time quite often with the high potential of it becoming confusing but each moment is kept fairly clear.
Once Every Never is a smart & fun romp through history with some intriguing characters. The dialogue and style of writing is so very much the voice of the author, as I can picture Livingston speaking many of those very lines. There is a lot of potential for more adventures and hijinx, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading the sequel, Every Never After.