I can imagine my 10-year-old self being intrigued by the way this story magically bridges Arthurian legend and modern reality. And my teenage self, like the main character of this book, spent some memorable time researching and writing about what it means to be a heroine. This book can offer something both to YA fantasy readers and to people who are interested in how portrayal of "heroines" has developed over time. But how good a job it does on either count is debatable - and I think it's a bit of a missed opportunity.
The story begins when Gwen asks her high school English teacher whether the Hero's Journey has a feminine counterpart. Dissatisfied with the response she gets, Gwen sets out to answer the question herself as part of her midterm project. Before long, the things she reads about begin to feel real as she finds her mind linked to someone else's: Guin, a young woman in 13th century England. Guin and Gwen learn to communicate and help each other as Gwen struggles with her reputation as the "crazy girl" at school, and Guin attempts to escape a forced marriage.
I appreciated some things about the book. The convergence of the two girls' minds created an appropriate feeling of disorientation. Both of them learn through experience. They come to see their worlds more realistically as well as more kindly, which enables them to fight for their place, but also to put other people before themselves when necessary.
My trouble with the book mainly stems from the quality of writing - it often felt forced, pedestrian, and repetitive. I also wasn't too impressed with the characterization, especially when it came to Gwen. She seemed oddly blank, without a distinctive personality or perspective. In fact, many of the teen characters seemed like cardboard cutouts who are interested in generic teenager topics - homework, mall, prom - but rarely showed that spark of uniqueness that would make them feel believable. Additionally, just because someone is a teenager doesn't mean that their thoughts and dialog need to be littered with cliched teen-isms like "totally awesome" and "kewl" (really?). Finally, despite the loud message of the girls being powerful and independent, they both came to be a little too fixated on their love interests, (view spoiler)[with Guin experiencing something like Stockholm Syndrome with Lancelot, and Gwen willing to spend her college savings on a paternity test in the hope of exonerating her crush (hide spoiler)]