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The Next Together Paperback – 3 Sep 2015
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"Funny, romantic, and compulsively readable." --The Bookseller
"Funny, unique, filled with passion and danger, and utterly addictive, The Next Together is one of this year's best young adult romances. James knows her audience and writes with the assurance and well-honed imagination of a seasoned novelist. No self-respecting teen would want to miss it!" --Lancashire Evening Post
"I didn't want this book to end, but I desperately wanted answers to why the couple kept reappearing throughout history in, as Katherine states, 'this horrific, beautiful dance through time'. The ending of the book was perfect, as the answers were given and it featured a subtle twist that was a surprise and a delight to realise. I look forward to more books from this talented young author!" --The School Librarian
About the Author
Lauren James was born in 1992, and graduated from the University of Nottingham, UK, in 2014, where she studied chemistry and physics. Her first novel, The Next Together, a YA reincarnation romance, has been translated into five languages worldwide. It was also longlisted for the Branford Boase Award, a prize given to recognize an outstanding novel by a first-time writer. Lauren is also an Arts Council grant recipient. She lives in the West Midlands. You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James or her website laurenejames.co.uk.
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RATED 3.5/5 STARS!
I WANT ANSWERS!
This book has left me in a weird balancing act between enjoyment and awe for all the stories told within this one book, but also pure frustration because I STILL want answers.
As you can probably tell, right now the balancing is leaning more towards the latter.
But we’ll come back to that later.
So. This book. This is definitely one of those books because it’s somehow all the contradicting genres at the same time. It’s historical fiction and contemporary…and also SciFi. Somehow. It all makes sense when you read it. Because basically there’s different time periods, starting from 1745 and leading right the way up to 2043, with all these stories from many different centuries linking up to create this huge timeline. And just in case you get confused at all while reading – don’t worry . There’s a timeline along the top of the page with a tiny little pointer to remind you just where in time you are.
And that’s the first thing that drew me in. I love historical fiction, so that was a huge thumbs up from me straight away. And then it being mixed with the idea of reincarnation? Well, that definitely caught my attention. I’ve not read many books about reincarnation, but they do intrigue me. I just can’t imagine what it’d be like to remember living another life.
Apparently , it’s very confusing.
That , I don’t doubt in the slightest.
As for the second thing that drew me in – the formatting! As I say in every single review of every single book that has some sort of different formatting, I LOVE IT when there’s different formats of writing, to jazz the reading experience up a bit. I think the main thing that kept me turning the pages of this book was wondering what I’d get to read next. Was it a note stuck on a fridge? Would it be a google search? Or an email? What about a letter?
And all these little snippets seemed to be building up to something. And THAT, was my main determination for finishing this book. I’ll try to explain.
There was the story. But then there also seemed to be little hints of something more. Small comments dotted around every so often, hinting that the story you’re reading is…not quite as it seems. There’s the story, and then something else much bigger looming just out of sight. And I wanted to know what.
There was so much mystery and intrigue. The book would jump around from one time period to another, and you never quite know when or where something important will happen. You never know when another piece of the puzzle will click into place. It really does keep you on your toes, happy to jump from page to page in search for an answer.
Of course, it helps that Katherine and Matthew – the main characters – are so fun to read about. Both of them are witty, humorous, and obviously they just have that connection where they seem to bounce off each other, where they make each other better. It was quite odd though because by the end of the book, I still didn’t feel like I knew them that well. Despite reading an entire book about their lives. But I suppose the entire plot was focused on the lives they had before the “modern day” one, and with that many stories to cram into one book, in depth get-to-know-me sessions will have to be on hold.
Towards the end, things did become a bit more difficult to follow with all the time frames coming to link together in the story, but it took a turn I didn’t expect. Plus I do like a good complicated story, to see how all the connections link up and suddenly feel like “YES that makes sense!” I do admit though that I couldn’t keep track of how much time was passing during the “present day” of the story, with the dipping in and out of history so often.
I was all ready and prepared to give this book a 4/5 stars. I really enjoyed the stories, and seeing how they all linked together.
And then the end happened.
And I had to dock half a star from the rating.
The ending disappointed me a bit. For one, it all seemed a bit rushed. But that I could deal with. What bugged me was the fact that absolutely none of my most burning questions were answered . If anything, I was left with more! I even read back the last few pages again to make sure I hadn’t missed something. But no. And I went into a slight sulk, not going to lie.
It’s a damn good job there’s another book after this, because I want some answers.
So this book is full of mystery, witty humour and curiosity. It’s like nothing I’ve read before. It’s original and definitely interesting to read…I just wish at least a few of my burning questions had been answered in this first book, rather than having to wait for the second.
The Next Together spans across different lives throughout time and follows our main characters via three different versions of our protagonist Katherine Finchley in 1745, 1854 and 2039. At first I wasn’t sure I would be able to keep up with three varying but connected story lines at the same time but they each have their own unique feel to them making them easy to slip in and out of. The way each narrative began and ended also helped by making you want to read more from that particular time but without making you want to skip the next part to get back to that part of the plot (a little like Game of Thrones).
The over arching plot is a difficult one to comment on because we end up with more questions than answers I feel and that is one of the few reasons I knocked the rating down to XXXX. The events that go on through this book are interesting and the characters especially kept me intrigued and enjoying this book, even shedding a few tears on a busy underground train but the end of the book doesn’t feel like an ending, or even much of a conclusion and more like the end part one of a book. The ending wasn’t bad it just didn’t feel as satisfying to me as I would have liked. Thankfully there is a sequel and The Last beginning (from what I’ve read so far) fills in some gaps and answers some questions in quite a satisfying way but it feels strange we had to wait for the sequel for those answers. That being said if you want to sell a sequel you need to make people want it and I was absolutely desperate for it the moment I closed The Next Together so it was certainly affective.
For me the characters and their relationships are really what sell this book for me which seems to be something Lauren James is very good at, her books really make you look at and fall for her characters and the plot kind of feels secondary (in a good way), I could have happily read pages and pages more of notes between Matthew and Katherine and still been pleased.
Although I probably would have liked a bit more of an explosive ending with more answers I really did enjoy The Next Together and I think this and a couple of other books I’ve read recently are really starting to pull me in to the more space opera (or at least character driven – this was the closest way of describing it that I could think of) side of Science Fiction which is something I hadn’t really given much thought to before. I love the spacey and or futuristic feel in books but these books where that isn’t the main focus and is just your normal setting but the interesting stuff that happens comes from the people in that story.I certainly recommend checking out The Next Together but if you get a good way in and decide that yes you do love it too I would advise getting the second book before you finish the first so you have it there ready to go so you aren’t kept awake at night trying to work out answers (better than the nightmares from the Loneliest Girl but still not a good addition to a good nights sleep).
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