Series: The Next Together #1
Published by Walker Books Australia on November 1st 2015
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 The Next Together is told through a mixture of regular prose, diary entries, letters, "original" historical documents, news reports and internet articles.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.
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
Thanks to Walker Books Australia for providing a review copy of the book!