First of all, let's just ignore the fact that I promised to write a review for every book I read. Sometimes, I just can't be bothered with reviews and I genuinely don't have a lot of time these days. I mean, that sounds ominous, but all I seem to do is work and sleep. Sometimes though, I read, and I read a lot. Here is a wonderful book; The Next Together by Lauren James - my first official book read of 2016 that I devoured.
"How many times can you lose the person you love?
Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again, century after century. Each time, their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.
Spanning the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the near-future of 2019 and 2039 they find themselves sacrificing their lives to save the world. But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?
Maybe the next together will be different..."
This novel is pretty genius and hats off to Lauren for writing such a wonderful book that follows at least four time lines. It's a tale of love and reincarnation with a lot of heart and action.
I'm not a history buff, okay? Don't tell me the date of something because I just don't know! I don't even believe that they had cars 100 years ago; history just confuses me. Keeping that in mind, the storytelling in this is so vivid and accurate I could picture the setting without knowing anything about 1745 or 1854. You know what I really enjoyed? And this is the book nerd in me having a field day - the aesthetic of the book. The parts set in 1745 (what I imagined as Wuthering Heights-esque) were a different font to 2039 which was different again to 1854. And it wasn't just the font that was different, the writing style matched the period in my head which, honestly, made it easy to follow and felt so accurate making it a pleasure to read. There are notes displayed like evidence and maps (we all love a good map) that help build the worlds around the characters in the different parts of history and a timeline bordering the top of the pages as a fun way to keep track of where I was in the story
Although all four stories are similar, it's not exactly four separate stories crammed in to one book. There are small familiarities and the characters hold everything together as well as an omnipresent coding/system that is following the progress in each timeline with the power to intervene. The writing does what it's meant to do - this is one story spread out over centuries and looking back, I don't separate futuristic versions of the characters from characters in the past. The thing that drove me through the pages was the longing to know all the answers; Who? What? Why? I think at every new development in the story I reacted with more questions and wonder and just wanted to see more.
I love Matthew and Katherine. I love every single version of them and their personalities are so real that I could just imagine them exisiting somewhere in the world, chilling with Netflix and having Katherine commentate some inappropriate one liners throughout. Katherine actually reminds me of an old friend of mine, down to the capital letters in her notes. It's a wonderful thing to feel a familiarity with a character like this and yeah. I just want to gush all the time because god damn are these two cute bunnies. I want every version of Katherine and Matthew (including every possible nickname and variation of those names as possible) - I want the old couple version who worry about their tomato plants, I want 10 year old versions that play hopscotch and eat ice cream, I want versions where Matthew is Martha and everything that goes with it. Cave dwellers, space explorers - I want them all because the love between them is so romantic and pure and solid. Maybe I'm just sick of new love butterflies, first meetings and all that, but having a couple with history and still showing a huge amount of affection and adoration for one another is refreshing and so important to me. Commitment, yo.
The story is grand and there was a delicious little twist at the end that makes me want to scream because the follow on (The Last Beginning) isn't released till later this year. THIS IS UNFAIR. Yes, hello, 999? This author is making me wait until NOVEMBER for the sequel. Yes I'll hold.
But seriously. This is a brilliant debut that I really want everyone to read. Even if you don't like history, or believe in reincarnation, or don't get science okay? Because they all apply to me and I got seriously invested. I was walking from the train station to work thinking about the characters - what are they going to get up to next? Why are they in all of these different times? - I was also occupied with thinking about how I'd review it because I knew immediately that this is one I wanted to talk about. I really don't think I've done it justice in this review (you know how I word vomit) but it's honestly a delightful, unique novel and just
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