An exploration of both time-travel and identity, Allison Evans’ Ida is a beautifully diverse and emotional story that I feel I’ve been waiting to read long before I knew it existed.
Time travel is usually a hit-or-miss for me, but the reader learns about Ida’s powers more or less at the same pace as she does. It isn’t explained in complex scientific detail, but personally, I prefer that. Ida’s journey and exploration of her powers are driven by her emotions, and Evans works tirelessly to make the reader feels those emotions themselves. Ida’s situation brings questions of identity, stability, love, family, and financial struggles, as well as many issues that seem specific but will ring home for many readers.
What drew me into the story and kept me hooked was the diversity; this is one of the first books I’ve read where the main characters are LGBT, and the story doesn’t revolve around their gender or sexuality. That’s not to say the characters’ identities are ignored; they’re absolutely not. Things like pronouns and binders are mentioned as a normal part of life, and Evans does bring up discrimination, but this is fantasy – these characters are allowed to exist without the story being bogged down by hate. Ida’s cast of characters are engaging and so rare to see in fiction, I would have happily read about them without the fantasy element. I’ve been looking for a fantasy novel without a diverse cast, and Ida quenched that thirst.
The story itself is enthralling; while simple in theory, it has the right amount of mystery, horror and thriller elements that will keep you reading. The story is ultimately character-centered, with Ida’s emotional journey at the crux of it all. Ida is an easy character to attach yourself to; her guilt, her concern for her partner and her fears of being a burden to her family things we all deal with at some point, and through Ida’s grief in alternate timelines, we find that we cry with her. There’s a part of me still in Ida’s world, wanting to know what happens to her after her story ends.
Ida by Alison Evans is available for sale here!