A powerful and epic debut novel about fate and the timelessness of first love. Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again. Each time their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated. How many times can you lose the person you love? For Matthew and Katherine it is again and again, over and over, century after century. But why do they keep coming back? How many times must they die to save the world? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace? Maybe the next together will be different.
I read The Next Together in preparation for YALC where Lauren James is running a workshop with Alice Oseman called Creator vs. Fandom -Authors on Social Media. I cannot WAIT to meet her and get my book signed!
The Next Together has such an interesting concept that I have heard of before but had never managed to find well executed. A key example of this was on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow which is presently my favourite TV show. The show featured a relationship wherein the two characters were reincarnated and fell in love all across time but it was honestly the aspect of the show which really brought it down because it was done so badly.
However, Lauren James manages to hit the nail on the head with this book as it is done with just the right amount of a) timelines b) dramatic irony and c) unique information display.
What I mean by this is that we are not overwhelmed by six or seven different timelines, we get three and a half (confusing in theory but works very well in practice). We meet our main characters in 1745, 1854, 2019 and 2039 and they all have very different paths to follow, though as the book progresses they begin to intertwine. The storytelling is spread out very evenly and as a reader you care about all the incarnations of these characters and both the period specific and timeless struggles they face.
As I said in my review of The Lie Tree , I am not usually one for historical fiction and I did definitely prefer the two modern timelines to the two set in the past. That being said, I was fascinated by the stories set in 1745 and 1854 as both are periods of history which I had very little knowledge of, never having studied them before. In the 1854 timeline Matthew and Kate have a very different dynamic than the other three times as Katherine is in disguise as a man which is fascinating to watch unfold.
Another fun aspect of the story is that the 2019 timeline is only seen by the reader through the post-it note exchanges of Katherine and Matthew, rather than having written Katherine POV as found in the other three periods. This really lets you get to know these characters in a casual setting which is fun and also quite rare in books as, for the sake of the story progression, characters are often on edge and doing stuff. It was nice to see them just living and interacting normally.
To give you any more information would be to delve into spoilers and that I cannot do! I will leave you with the fact that The Next Together will certainly leave you theorising and hungry for book 2. The Last beginning comes out on October 6th and you can pre-order it from Amazon here.