Monday, 24 August 2015

Review: The Next Together by Lauren James

Publication Date: September 3rd 2015
Publisher: Walker Books
Length: 356 pages

Huge thanks to Walker Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

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...
A powerful and epic debut novel for teenagers about time-travel, fate and the timelessness of first love. The Next Together is told through a mixture of regular prose, diary entries, letters, "original" historical documents, news reports and internet articles.

This book has been one of my most anticipated reads of the year. That cover first caught my eye way back in the spring, and then the blurb followed and I was absolutely desperate to get my little mitts on it.

And it definitely lived up to expectations. It’s a wonderful story with (despite being about the same people) remarkably varied characters. You could immediately tell which time frame and which versions of Kate and Matt you were with, without any prodding from the time line headings, simply because of how unique they were. Lauren does a fantastic job of bringing different character facets to the fore for each so that they are in essence the same characters, but you see so many different sides to them. I loved seeing the different challenges each variant couple faced, and seeing how the time period played into that.

Whilst I loved all of them, my favourites were definitely 2019 Matt and Kate, simply because you got to know them so much better than any of the others. You really saw the bulk of their relationship, the quirks, the humour and how much they loved each other shining through in that time line above all the others.

It’s an engrossing story, and one that I couldn’t put down once I’d started. I loved the different periods, the different elements of the relationships, the slow unveiling of the twists. It’s a beautiful slow burn of a book and it was wonderful to see how the different threads played into each other and interlinked. It’s a fascinating, well written and original book. It’s a wonderful mix of historical, contemporary and dystopian fiction all rolled up into one story and really does have a bit of something for everyone.

I did however have a couple of niggles which stopped this being a full five star read for me. The first may well be resolved in the finished copy, something I am very eager to nab a copy once it hits the shelves so I can see. Towards the end of the book both Kate and Matt start to reference another time thread at Bletchley Park. Obviously it’s clear that there are numerous more time threads than the four depicted in the novel, but it seemed strange that Bletchley Park is referenced numerous times with no reference to any other time lines that we haven’t seen. It made it feel almost as though in a previous draft Bletchley Park was one of the threads, so it was quite a strange jolt to suddenly start having these references to it out of the blue.

My second niggle was with the end, and in the interest of spoilers I’m not going to mention it here. However if you’ve read the book and want to talk about it feel free to message me! I’m hoping that since there is a second book titled ‘The Last Beginning’ listed on Goodreads, that my ending related niggles will all be resolved, but until that point that end just left me feeling a bit strange. It was a bit abrupt and I needed a little bit more of a resolution.

My third niggle (regular readers will have guessed this one already…) was that some of the language and dialogue in the historical time lines felt very modern. It wasn’t too jarring, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as some other historical books I’ve read, but it was still there, and it still bothered me.

However, those points aside, I really loved this book. It’s a beautiful love story, incredibly tense and with wonderful variants of the same people so that each thread genuinely felt like it housed its own people, which I loved. It’s a very engrossing read, and a truly wonderful debut, and has left me desperate for Lauren’s next novel which is FAR TOO FAR AWAY RIGHT NOW.


  1. I saw this on GR's a few weeks ago, and I really can't wait to read it and get it in my greedy clutches! XD Great review!

    1. It's a really great book (I love it when the insides live up to the outsides!) And such a good debut. I'm really excited because Lauren has since clarified that the Bletchley Park thread (that had me so confused in its absence here) will be released as a novella! Extra awesome! Hooray!