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The Principle of Moments by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson

05/04/2024
The Principle of Moments by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson

Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson’s debut is a hybrid of science fiction and fantasy. The Principle of Moments starts with some solid (if derivative) science fiction concepts – humans enslaved by an evil empire with a planet destroying device, space craft that can jump across light years, multiple species, time travel. It then mixes these with an equal dash of fantasy – prophecies, chosen one(s), reincarnation of heroes – and what seems like straight up magic.

The Principle of Moments opens in the year 6066. Asha is a human slave on a dusty planet that is part of a huge galactic empire. She dreams of escape and despite her lowly status has somehow learnt how to hack computer systems and teach herself (in theory) how to fly. These skills come in handy when a mysterious stranger appears, takes her mother and sets her on a quest to find a sister she did not know she had. Meanwhile, in 1812 London, Obi has decided his time travelling days are over and he wants to try to invest in his relationship with Prince George but before he can really do so he is spirited to 6066. All of this is tied up with a prophecy in which Asha and Obi are the reincarnation of heroes of old, destined to free the galaxy (or die trying?).

It is only in the author’s notes that readers will learn that this book started as the idea of a sixteen-year-old and was written when Jikiemi-Pearson was eighteen. But then it all makes sense because, for the most part, The Principle of Moments feels like a fantasy written for teenagers by a teenager. The influences are fairly obvious. Many of the world building elements (galactic empire, planet busting weapon even space whales) comes straight out of Star Wars with magic and prophecy by way of Harry Potter. Both Asha and Obi are frighteningly talented teens, essentially able to do anything the plot demands to get out of whatever scrapes they are in (including fixing and then flying an old spacecraft, escaping from a prison ship and hacking a planetwide system with a stolen motherboard to bring down a fleet of deadly drones). And when they can’t do any of that, some form of magic is employed that helps them out (at least twice they are magically teleported away from danger) or a mysterious figure or weapon from prophecy appears to help them. The relationship between Obi and the Prince may be sweet but it is also incredibly naïve.

Which is all to say that YA readers are likely to enjoy The Principle of Moments. It may not make a lot of sense, but it is engagingly written and moves fast enough to allow readers to not think about things too deeply. It is bright, exuberant and does have some things to say about individualism, racism, colonialism and slavery (even if they are unsubtle). The Principle of Moments is the first book in series and there are enough threads left dangling at the end to bring those who enjoyed the ride back for more.

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The Principle of Moments by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson

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