The Next Together by Lauren James Review: True Love Transcends Time

October 28, 2015 by Jenna | 4 stars, Books, Reviews

The Next Together by Lauren James Review: True Love Transcends TimeThe Next Together by Lauren James
Series: The Next Together #1
Published by Walker Books Australia on November 1st 2015
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Historical, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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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 The Next Together is told through a mixture of regular prose, diary entries, letters, "original" historical documents, news reports and internet articles.

The Next Together has a unique concept that blends contemporary with historical and sci-fi elements, into a mysterious and thrilling story. It was this unique concept of reincarnation and time-travel that drew me to this book. Besides, who doesn’t love a good romance that transcends time and history?

This novel is written as four separate stories of past and present Katherines and Matthews. Each of these are set in a different time period when England is in conflict with another country. We get to see Katherine and Matthew fall in love in 1745, 1854, 2019 and 2039, only to be torn apart tragically each time when they find themselves in the middle of the conflict. Each time Katherine and Matthew meet, they are drawn together by a feeling of familiarity and love, and they soon realise that they’ve done all of this before. The Katherines and Matthews in the future are even able to gain access to the memories of their past selves.

They blossomed in her mind in vivid stains, and she remembered everything – and Matthew was everything and she loved him and always had.

The Next Together made me feel like I was reading four separate love stories with characters that had the same names and personalities. The stories, and how Katherine and Matthew came together and fell in love, were all very different but yet, there were many parallels across each of their stories and I enjoyed being able to pick out the common characteristics in them. Even though they were separate story arcs, the fact that the characters were so similar in each of them made the whole novel seem cohesive to me. I felt like I was getting to know different sides of Katherine and Matthew, rather than four different versions of them.

We get to see snippets of each of the four story arcs in every chapter, and at times this felt a little bit disjointed. There were times when I just wanted to continue following the same story arc, instead of switching perspectives, and this format made me feel a little bit impatient. However, I loved how the rest of the book was formatted. The Next Together is filled with email exchanges, maps, little notes on napkins and even blog posts. This made it a really fun reading experience. I also loved how much attention to detail went into these little notes. Katherine is left-handed and her handwriting has the signature lefty slope to the left, and I just really appreciated these little details.

I enjoyed the plot of the story, and the explanation that was given for why Katherine and Matthew are reborn over and over. There was also an aspect of mystery because it’s obvious from the beginning that somebody/something is monitoring and manipulating their every move. I did, however, become a little bit confused during the climax of the book. The last 70 pages were so trippy and I had to reread some sections multiple times in order to continue following the logic of the book. The last chapter of the book felt a little bit rushed and I would have liked an extra 20 pages just to properly wrap up the novel.

I loved both Katherine and Matthew in the book. They were both funny and I loved how great they were together. I particularly enjoyed the snarky email, text and handwritten exchanges between 2019 Katherine and Matthew. They were my favourite of the four couples, and I’m sad that we got to see the least of them in the book.

“Although, you know, thinking about it, I’m not sure I really remember how we got engaged… I remember the next morning and the ring we chose. Katherine, please say you didn’t torture me until I proposed or do something so equally terrible that I erased it from my memory?”

The whole concept of true love transcends time could have been executed a little better, in my opinion. It played out a little bit differently to how I had imagined it. It was almost insta-lovey because the characters are naturally drawn to each other and act very familiarly towards each other. Because of this, the romance didn’t make me swoon as much as I would have liked it to. There were also some things that kind of just happened out of the blue, because they had happened before in the past.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the concept of The Next Together and the format of the book. The little notes scattered throughout the book were a fun addition. Even though I liked both of our main characters together, I found the romance to be a little bit lacking and wish it had been better developed.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Thanks to Walker Books Australia for providing a review copy of the book!Β 

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Jenna is an Aussie blogger and reader who loves to indulge in great books and great food. She is a doctor (of philosophy) and can usually be found fangirling about something, devouring delicious food, or taking a nap. You can find her on Twitter @readwithjenna and on Instagram @readingwithjenna.

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42 responses to “The Next Together by Lauren James Review: True Love Transcends Time

  1. Abbey

    I read The Next Together by Lauren James in one day! It is hands down one of the most intriguing books I've ever read! Lauren James tells 4 beautifully tragic love stories, about the same 2 people in the course of history. While these 4 stories play out, you fall more and more in love with Matthew and Katherine. Lauren also provides cute and funny notes that Matthew and Katherine left for each other on the fridge. While I read The Next Together I never once got bored, or came across a boring part. I only got more and more excited as I read. I enjoyed this love story and all of it's twisted historic events, how just one action could change history as we know it. There were frustrating moments which I thought "Just kiss already!" The Next Together is amazing, and beautifully written. The Next Together also has a sequel, coming out in October of 2016. Lauren James is a phenomenal writer, I guarantee you that you will not regret reading this book. This is one of my very favorite books without a doubt!

    • This was the first book I've ever read about reincarnation and I thought it was wonderful. I did find myself questioning some aspects of the concept but it was such a fun read that I think I can recommend it πŸ™‚

  2. I had the same issues with the romance too Jenna and those last few chapters, I still have no idea what happened. I assumed they were versions of themselves in different dimensions and eras, but when they asked one of their grandmothers, they said that the Kate and Matt from 2019 were related to them instead. Was it their aunt and uncle I think they said. Did I miss something? I didn't mind it up until that point, then it just seemed to get too messy and contradictory. I'm glad you enjoyed this much more than I did Jenna. Fabulous review poppet <3 really enjoyed it.
    My recent post Lillytales Bookmark International Giveaway

    • The last section was definitely confusing. It makes sense for 5 minutes and then I get confused again. I think we just need to not think too deeply about it πŸ˜€ I can kind of understand them being aunt and uncle to their own selves, since it's about reincarnation and not timetravel… but if I still find it really confusing. Especially that part when they switched! I'm interested to see what the next book is about though. Thanks Kelly!!

  3. nereyda1003

    This is one of those books I was super excited about but I ended up completely forgetting about it. Thanks for adding it back to my radar!

  4. I saw this in the bookstore the other day (it has an eye-catching cover!) but had no idea what it was about, so thank you for solving that mystery! I think I like the idea of it, but four stories at once might be a bit much for me. Will definitely consider it though.

    Great review Jenna πŸ™‚ thank you for sharing!
    My recent post Showcase Sunday #34

    • I hope you pick it up – it was a really unique story. Even though the four stories were kind of overwhelming at times, they converge in a really cool (but slightly confusing) way. It was a really interesting read!

    • I totally see what you mean about the multi-POV. I feel like this maybe works a little bit better than multiple perspectives from different characters just because the characters in this book are so similar. I think the main problem is that you'll either connect with all of the Katherines and Matthews or none at all, since they're almost the same people.

  5. mymidnightmusing

    This sounds like a very interesting concept. I'm all for the love that transcends time trope so I definitely think this is one I'll really enjoy. I do worry about the four separate stories because fear that I won't be as invested in all of them. However, I'm definitely going to give this book a go. Great review.
    – Lois
    My recent post Discussion: The Perception of Strength

    • That's a great point and I was definitely more interested in some of the stories more than the others. But because the characters are so similar, if you like one of the pairings, you'll most likely like them all… because they are the same people.

  6. YEAH! Congrats on your first post Jenna! *throws confetti* So glad to hear you liked it so much – it sounds like an amazing romance story. Definitely going to have to give this a try. πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

    • Thank you so much Zoe!! *throws glitter*

      This book definitely appeals to those looking for an epic (maybe slightly unrealistic) romance. I felt like a swoony teenager again, while reading this! Hope you enjoy this one if you do pick it up!

    • The characters do lack a little bit dynamics so if you don't connect with one pair, you won't connect with the other three either. That's probably the drawback of the book, but I still thought it was enjoyable. Thanks for visiting!!!

  7. It's a little disappointing to see the romance lacking, but yay for consistent characterization! It must have been pretty difficult to create a character 4 different times and give them the same personalities in different settings. Either way, this sounds like a fun book! (Especially with the notes, letters, and blog posts scattered throughout.) <3

    AWESOME FIRST REVIEW/POST JENNA!! πŸ˜€

    • Yeah it was definitely interesting to see such similar characters who are still different. I guess at times, it does lack dynamics but they're adorable together so who cares? XD

      THANKS MY LITTLE XIAOLONGBAO!

  8. Great review Jenna! It sounds like this romance was done really well amd the differently formatted notes and stuff made it really fun to read, but a shame about how disjointed the story felt at times. Wonderful first review here!

    • Thanks Jeann! I'm so happy that I managed to unblurrify the book cover for my very first post HAHA. I mostly just enjoyed the little notes and alternate formatting in this book. The plot and characterisation were just okay, but nice effort for a debut novel!

    • I've never seen The Tree of Life but I just looked up a synopsis and it sounds fantastic! I'll have to give it a go sometime. I hope you enjoy The Next Together if you do pick it up!

  9. sumlynnnguyen

    Yay! Your first post! I'm a little sad that I couldn't be the first commenter for this.I'm a little sad that I couldn't be the first commenter for this. πŸ˜‰ But yay, your first post on Happy Indulgence! The Next Together sounds like something I'd like to read. It kind of reminds me of Before I Fall a little bit even though these are all different Katherines and Matthews I'm assuming (or they just one couple reincarnated every time?). And I'm currently reading a historical fantasy right now, Wolf by Wolf. So I was surprised to see this review, which also has a mix of both genres. πŸ˜›

    • sumlynnnguyen

      Oh gosh, haha, looks like this comment got really messed up. -___- I'll get better with cross commenting and blog hopping, I promise! πŸ™‚

    • YAY THANKS FOR VISITING SUMMER <3 <3

      I think you'll really like this too! I haven't read Before I Fall so can't comment on that… but this is the same couple reincarnated each time. Well… they're always descendants or related to the previous couple but they're the same people. It's kinda confusing… They start off not knowing each other but being drawn to one another… and eventually they gain access to past memories, so they're really just the same people reborn. I hope you give it a go – not sure when it's available in the US though!

  10. aentee @ read at midnight

    I am still waiting for my copy, which I fear may have gotten lost in the post! If I get too impatient I might have to go out and buy this myself haha. It sounds very interesting, even though I don't think I could become invested in all four storylines. I love books told in a unique manner though, and it sounds like The Next Together does get quite creative!

    AND CONGRATS ON YOUR FIRST POST HERE, LOVELY <3

    • YAY MY FIRST POST (HAS A BLURRY PICTURE OF THE BOOK COVER)! I'm not sure that you'll completely love this tbh. I don't think you'll hate it, but it might be kind of average to you? Definitely wait for your copy!
      The format is kind of cool though. A little bit Iluminae-esque (but obviously not as cool). The exchanges between characters is really funny and you probably won't find it to be as fake-sounding as Kady and Ezra.

    • Oh no! That sucks. I can kind of see why it might not be available in ebook… since it has all those notes and interesting formatting. I bought a copy off Book Depository so it's definitely available there!

  11. Charnell

    I have been seeing this book EVERYWHERE. You have me really, really, REALLY curious about it though. I might have to get my hands on a copy and read it, it sounds really interesting.

    • It has a super interesting concept! I've never read anything about reincarnation so I found the whole plot to be really fascinating! I hope you manage to get hold of a copy!

  12. nightowlbook

    I see a lot of mixed reviews of this book, I think you either like it or you don't. I find all the concepts that are presented in this book quite interesting , might be something I myself enjoy

    • It's a really interesting book, but I agree that you'll either like it or dislike it. There aren't very many side characters so it's ALL about Katherine and Matthew. I guess you'll like the book if you connect with them, but if you don't, it'll be a looong journey to the end HAHA. There were lots of funny moments that helped me connect with them, and I think the concept of the book is interesting enough that you'll be able to enjoy it?

  13. I'm a little conflicted about this one, Jenna. I love the sound of an epic romance that transcends time, and all the scifi elements but the fact that the book is a little disjointed at times worries me. Also all those couples. I might give it a shot though.
    Lovely review, Jenna!
    My recent post Waiting on Wednesday (161)

    • I loved the idea of an epic romance too! I was super intrigued by the idea of a couple being reborn over and over and ending up together each time. There are definitely some swoony moments. The book is a little bit disjointed – it feels a little bit like 4 separate stories – but there were enough common threads that linked them together for me to enjoy the book. I hope you give it a go!

  14. redizabzh

    I hope the author will take these into consideration when she publishes the next book in the series πŸ˜‰

  15. Grace @ RebelMommyBB

    This is one I really want to read because of the concept. I love when books have emails, maps, notes and whatnot as part of the storytelling. Sounds like one I will pick up even with the things that didn't really work – Great review!
    My recent post Review ~ The Martian

    • It's definitely worth a read. It was a lot of fun and the notes were hilarious to read! There were some confusing plot points but it fits together nicely once you've wrapped your head around it πŸ˜€

    • I can totally see how you might not have connected with any of the characters. They're kind of so similar that if you don't like one couple, you won't like the others. Weirdly, I connected with 2019 Katherine and Matthew the most, even though we saw the least of them.

      Romance is totally my thing but I don't think the love transcending time concept was executed that well. It felt too insta-love/insta-connection to me. There were some swoony moments though πŸ˜€ And yes, I really loved the format of the book! It was a super fun read!