Author: Lauren James
Series: The Next Together
Released: October 6th 2016
Publisher: Walker Books
Length: 352 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
The epic conclusion to Lauren James' debut The Next Together about love, destiny and time travel.Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Katherine and Matthew vanished without a trace. Now Clove Sutcliffe is determined to find her long lost relatives. But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history? Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? And who is the mysterious Ella, who keeps appearing at every turn in Clove's investigation?For Clove, there is a mystery to solve in the past and a love to find in the future.
For me, The Next Together by Lauren James was one of those gorgeous, magical reading experiences that you just don’t see coming. As a debut, it was a dream come true, a story of one romance in four different places and four different timescapes, often centuries apart. The Last Beginning follows in its predecessor’s amazing footsteps, perhaps with a tiny bit less romance and magic, but with so much heart that it doesn’t really matter by the end.
James continues her complex story in this sequel with Kate and Matt’s daughter, Clove. Sixteen years have passed since we’d last seen Matthew and Katherine, and we have no idea where they are. Clove was raised by Matt’s brother Tom and his wife Jen, loved and protected by her parents, oblivious to her true parentage. When Tom and Jen finally tell her the truth, she has trouble imagining the two famous people, responsible for bringing bioterrorism to light and saving countless lives, as her parents.
Clove is a bit difficult at the best of times. I was most impressed by James’ understanding of a teenage mind. She overreacts to everything, says and does things with little care for her loved ones, she acts without considering any of the consequences and lands herself into trouble all the time. Clove feels everything so intensely, which is very normal for a teenage girl, and she lashes out when she can’t process her emotions. At the same time, though, Clove is brilliant. Her mind works on a level I can’t even begin to grasp and she sees worlds within computers that elude most of us simpler people. Her mission to find her birth parents brings her a world of trouble, but somehow Clove manages to make the best of it.
The story gets a bit tangled at one point, but not impossible to follow. James doesn’t follow the multiverse theory and sees time as something linear, with time travelers being able to jump back and forth and alter things as they see fit (or sometimes in ways they couldn’t have imagined). Clove’s love interest Ella brings brightness into the story, as well as a whole new world of possibilities.
The girls’ romance is a predestined sort of thing (or a self-fulfilling prophecy maybe), but it works. Ella’s witty charm and Clove’s devotion are designed to make us sigh. The girls disagree and fight sometimes, but they meet halfway and handle things in a way I really enjoy.
Overall, this can’t be read without The Next Together. It would likely make very little sense. But to those of you who have yet to read both I highly recommend a weekend binge read with lots of tea or hot chocolate and a very warm blanket. Oh, and tissues, obviously.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.