The Principle Moments
By Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson
- The Principle Moments
Author: Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson
- ISBN: 9781473234192
- Published: January 2024
- Pages: 501
- Format reviewed: Paperback
- Review date: 29/01/2024
- Language: English
You see it more often in fantasy than science fiction, but there are stories about young people living a life of drudgery only to be plucked into being exceptional as if fate is playing with them. It is a comfortable coming of age trope that has worked so well, so many times, but what if fate did come knocking? All the things that you are meant to do have already been written down in the future and in the past. In Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson's The Principle of Moments our heroes may not have as much choice as they would like.
In the year 6066 humanity has less conquered the stars and more just about made it. Asha Akindele finds herself like many humans under the control of the emperor, the age of peace feels more like an age of slavery for the likes of Asha. Thousands of years earlier in 1812 Obi Amadi is a time traveller forced to stop due to illness. He is making the best of things by having an affair with a Prince. Although they may exist thousands of years apart, Asha and Obi are destined to meet and become heroes. It has been written.
Principle is want-to-be gritty science fiction, seen through a colourful lens. It is a dystopian vision in dayglo. Asha has it bad, repressed and enslaved she can only dream of being free. Obi has it better, having chosen London in 1812 to settle, but he is unable to control his powers when an artifact so powerful draws him to Asha. Together they must traverse time, space, and fate if they are going to survive.
This is a book with lofty ideas; it reminded me of a mix of The Hunger Games and Star Wars, it has the coming-of-age storylines of both, but also the melodrama they possess. Asha grows most in the book, being younger and having seen less. Going on an adventure across space is a fantastic way of opening one’s eyes. There is a naivety to Asha that infects the book, it starts to border on YA, or at best my-first-proper-science-fiction for adults, therefore the presence of Obi is integral to balance this. Obi is a little older and world weary, he brings a more mature voice to the story and is there to protect Asha from herself and the reader from too much hand wringing.
I found the story of Asha and Obi too formulaic to get fully onboard, but the story is not just about them. Obi’s Father, and his Prince also get together, this section felt fresher to me. There is also some good exploration of fate and its role it plays in the character’s lives. Jikiemi-Pearson has made an intelligent decision to introduce various characters and cults that read the future/past. The presence of this ‘fate’ brings a wrinkle to the book, which would have otherwise been a starry-eyed tale of a youth finding themselves.
Although filled with dark and depressing world building, there is a sense of lightness in the book. The balance seems a little on the light side for what is happening to the characters, but it made the book more readable. The action feels designed to appeal to a wide audience and transformation to the screen. The more interesting science fiction nuggets are hidden in the time travel and fate aspects of the book. I think it will appeal to the younger reader or someone who likes both the action and the emotions heightened.
Written on 29th January 2024 by Sam Tyler .