Transcendence, by C.J. Omololu (Walker, 2012, YA) is a type of time travel book that I've never reviewed before--on in which reincarnation is front and center. But since reincarnation in this story is more than just having memories of past lives--it's actually reliving bits of the past, in a vivid, really being there way--I'm counting it as time travel.
Cole (short for Nicole) had no idea that she had lived many lives before her present, teenage cello playing existence until she is beheaded at the Tower of London. Fortunately for Cole, this happened in the past...though the experience felt very real. And also fortunately for Cole, maybe, a handsome boy named Griffon is there to catch her as she faints. He knows that she's more than just a tourist overwhelmed by the history of the place....because he, too, has memories of many lives.
Griffon and Cole are both from the same California town, and their paths cross again. And Cole is caught up in a fluster of teenaged crush-ness, which is a new thing for her, because until now the cello has filled her time very fillingly. But her uncanny visions of the past are happening more often... and Griffon has answers for her that are almost unbelievable. There is a secret cabral of those who remember their past lives exists, and Cole has just become eligible to join the club.
But the energies of her gradually remembered pasts have attracted someone who has born a grudge against her for over a hundred years....a deadly grudge. Murderous, even. So Cole must figure out the mystery of what happened back then, or else she may well not live long enough to be able to settle nicely into her romance with Griffon....let alone sort out her various pasts, and what her future might hold.
This is definitely one for readers who like their teenage romance right up there, front and center. Following along with Cole's first person present narration, the reader gets to share the anxiety, the attraction, the heat of passion (which takes a while to actually heat up, but which is rather steamy once it gets going. Although they don't have sex. Yet.). The reader, thanks to this first person present, also is privy to lots of miscellaneous details and thoughts that don't advance the story all that quickly. It is very much a slow build to the really exiting, "will Cole be killed," part (the realization that she can remember past lives, like Griffon, isn't actually all that exciting--explanation from Griffon that he is special, incredulous acceptance from Cole that she is special too...and repeat intermittently).
In fact, things were so slow to get going that I started and put the book down twice....but I pressed on the third time, and was rewarded with a final third of much more excitingness (the "will Cole be killed"part, and the whole mystery of why). That being said, if you like teenaged paranormal romances, but want to keep the paranormal on the human end of things, this might really work for you.
Fans of time travel might be a tad disappointed in as much as there really isn't any travel qua travel--there's reliving of things that happened, and as such Cole in the past doesn't have any free will as her modern self. There's no culture shock or paradoxes or other time related entanglements, except for the reverberations of the past into the present. So, time travel fans, be aware that you are going to get more contemporary romance than time slippishness.
All that being said, the final third of the book redeemed the whole for me, and I do recommend it in a mild way to anyone not off-put by my caveats!