This is a different do-over story, with a gender-bender twist to it. Two adults, both 43 years old, one male and the other female, and who have made a mess of their lives, die during surgery in 2003. They are transported back in time to 1974, but into each other's body. They have to learn to adjust to being the opposite sex, plus make the most of their new situation. The story only covers 7 months of their lives past that point, but does it well, delivering a phenomenal read to all of us in the process.
For plot, the author does a great job of filling in not only a great back story, but also ventures into a couple side stories. When I first started reading it, I had serious doubts that the story would end up appealing to me. By the time the story ended, I loved it. It has some unusual takes on established religion, and adds some great life lessons, including a hilarious critique of politicians. I believe that it earns a 10.
The technical score came in at a 10 as well. There were very few errors throughout the story, and it was superbly edited for not only grammar, but also for punctuation. The few errors spread out so far across the story did not distract from the story at all.
For personal appeal, also a 10. This is a story that I can see myself reading several more times whenever I want a good read. Frankly, it is one of the better stories on SOL. I would have liked to have seen what they were able to accomplish with their lives after this story, but that is another tale to be told.
Reviewed: 2012-05-06 - (Review Updated: 2012-05-07)
Here at SOL there is something of a sub-genre of the 'do-over' whereby a characters, often a middle-aged man of failing health, somehow goes back in time to a period of their life before they made those decisions which led to their early demise.
Gifted with the opportunity to do then with the knowledge of their older self, they seek to re-invent themselves.
Sometimes they are helped in this by the fact that their going back in time also involves a swap of gender.
Which is precisely what happens on Once More where we return to 1974 with Patrick/Patti and his re-lived life.
The big switch in this story is Patrick, as Patti, entering into a school run by nuns.
Yeah, that's where the SOL-obligatory sex comes in, but it's all done not only rather well, but with love as a major component. If you're looking for a lot of lesbian sex, there is quite a lot of lesbian sex, but it's not random, and it's not meaningless. It advances either plot or character or both.
The plot concerns Patti's re-assimilation as a young woman in 1974 Canada, her doing over what she did wrong, her helping her 'swap-mate' (yeah, she swapped with a girl and they went back together, sort of) to re-adjust his life, and their coming to terms with the fact that this is their new life, and their old life is fading into a memory or a dream.
Along the way, we learn a little about mid-seventies Canada, a lot about volleyball, and even tips on good diet and exercise.
Technically I don't recall there being any problems, goofs, or mis-steps, with the writer having a good command of written English. Plot-wise there are enough dramas to stop the story degenerating into a wish-fulfilling fantasy.
More impressively, this is a story that had me in tears at the end - don't worry, I'm not spoiling it - as the characters come to a very real climax in a lightning storm. And this was a genuine reaction, not an 'it caught me on a bad day' response, as I've read this story twice now and it gets to me every time.
So go ahead, read about Patti and Wendy and Patrick and the rest of the volleyball team; if you're interested in a well-written, well thought out, and enagaging story, you'll enjoy this.
Poor old Patrick; remember the saying: Lifes a bitch, and then you die? Well in Patrick's case, not only does he screw up his life, he buggers up his health, and forget about his absent friends and relatives because by the time of his unlamented death he had none, and then he returns to life as a young, very young, teenager. And what about Patti? She could have done without being born for all the good she did... the first time around. Because she died at the exact same time, date, and hospital that Patrick did. And not only that Patti wakes up in Patrick's body, and Patrick wakes up in her's. Now that is a fine kettle of fish, Ollie!
So, because of the switches between bodies, and the time lapse involved, they have to pretend to have lost their memories because of the "near death experiences" they both suffered in the London Ontario Hospital they arrived at. Now London is a very nice city, situated on the Thames River, and is really miles from anywhere<
Even with all this salacious sex going around it is a deeply thought out story which introduces the reader to an intriguing cast of characters, it also offers you some theological probabilities as well. Oh, I nearly forgot, I thought Laura Secord invented Ice Cream, thanks Night Hawk for steering me straight.
This is not an easy review for me to write. I (like thousands of others) have lived with OMWF for the almost two years it has been in gestation, and now it is done I feel strangely empty, depressed, knowing I no longer have another chapter of this incredible story to look forward to.
By now, I guess you will have noted I like the story. The reality is, I love the story. I have read some excellent fiction - on SOL and elsewhere - and have to say that overall OMWF has moved me, involved me, developed me more than any other written piece - even more than the superb qualities of Nick Scipio's Summer Camp series, Lazlo Zalezac's John Carter series or Don Lockwood's or Al Steiner's superbly imagined and described universes.
Why do I rate this story so? I think because I really do feel as though I am living it, along with the players. I'm not just reading about the joys, the excitements and the sorrows of being a teenaged girl in a Catholic girls' school; I'm there with her, feeling and sharing, not just watching vicariously.
I find it hard to read a chapter in this story without actually crying at times, so moved am I. The plot-lines are very good, drawing in the reader and pulling one through into the intricacies - one cannot watch from the sidelines - and I am sure they contribute much the overall sense of believability which underpins the emotional involvement.
It is essentially a human story written with a great sense of empathy, and if the author (Henri) has put as much of his emotional self into his creations as I have gained from reading it he is a very deep and strong man. No wonder it takes him so long to create new chapters!
As a sex story, the underlying themes are always present and appear as relevant and well described interludes in the overall story. Taking the sex scenes out on their own, I would rate them a 9 or a 10, but as they are secondary to the overall story I have rated them a 7.
Plot-lines are multiple and interwoven, fully earning a 10 rating. There is one plot-line relating to religious experience which I had felt would have made me uncomfortable as a sceptical agnostic, but I actually felt had educated and enriched me.
Henri's command of the English language is excellent and he uses it well, including sufficient richness to support his story but not blending in dictionary like some just to make him sound well-read. His editing team do a superb job, and I do not recall finding any grammatical or typographical mistakes at all in this work.
Overall this is a romantic story, but one into which are woven elements of growing humanity, coming of age, maturity of perception, sci-fi, sport and religious tolerance.
I have also an avid reader of Henri's continuing development of the 'Kelly' story, which I also find enjoyable but not quite as rich as OMWF. I have also read his shorter stories on SOL and whilst recognising their technical quality and entertainment value cannot identify with them to quite the same levels as OMWF.
Please keep writing, Henri. Works like Once More With Feelings are truly great and in future times will I'm sure be duly recognised as such.
The Night Hawk has definitely found a rare combination here. I absolutely LOVE this story and I can't even emphasize it enough. I turned this story on to a woman friend of mine and now she's "hooked". Basically, this review is mostly her 'input' because she is a woman and believes that "The Night Hawk" has to be a woman too, because, as she put it, "no man can understand what we women go through or what we've gone through as girls". Her words not mine.
I've got to admit, this awesome story has so many real points about it, it's as if the author has experienced those things for themselves.
"Hawk" has taken the old 'time travel' theme and put a twist to it that, if handled improperly, could make for a really bad story. Hawk has not only given it credibility but, the approach he takes is as if he/she lived the experience for themselves.
The story is up to 'chapter' 15 at the time of this review and it just keeps getting better. I'm sure I'm not the only fan of this author's work. Kelly is also an excellent story. But, as awesome as that story is, OMWF knocks it off the top.
Let me tell you a little about the story and what Hawk is done for us. As stated earlier it's a 'time travel' theme. So, you have the typical elements. Guy's old, had a shitty life, died, woke up in the past in another's body. Sound familiar? Some have made this theme work basically because EVERYONE wants to be someone else or do something different if given the chance.
HOWEVER, here is the twist. Our 'hero' came back as a girl. And that's where the 'reality' fun begins. The author basically compliments the intelligence of his reading public by NOT assuming that we'll buy the fact that this 'back to the past' character knows what being another sex is all about. There are things in there that us men just don't know a damn thing about and Hawk puts it right in front of us for all to see. Our little 'heroine' knows things only from a male point of view and has to learn how to be a real girl. The awesome part of it is that Hawk doesn't insult anyone. It's handled so well you'd think that Night Hawk was a psychologist or more.
And although I've given it a 'stroke' score of 9 (the "innocent sex" scenes will melt you) that is definitely only because the rest of the story is so well written and executed that it is just really difficult to only give the story a "10" when it's so much more.
Share this story with everyone you know. Even though it's an erotic story or on an erotic story site. it's worth taking the chance to let people know that we, who enjoy this genre, are not all 'psycho sicko' perverted idiots. Here is a story worth sharing with the world for it's wide-range appeal.