Book Review: The Next Together – Lauren James

thenexttogether_shelatitude

Title: The Next Together (2015)
Author: Lauren James
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Contemporary
Extent: 354 pages
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Review: 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. Maybe the next time they’re together will be different…

Plot-wise, this is an incredibly ambitious book. It plays across various genres—historical, science fiction, romance, mystery and contemporary—and it technically has eight main characters: two people in four different eras. It’s told in a non-chronological order and goes back and forth between the years 1745, 1854, 2019 and finally the present, 2039. I liked the last two—not so much the others.

I found both Matthew and Katherine to be lacking depth. Their entire existences revolved around the fact that they were meant to be together, and it shows. Over and over I felt like they’re being pushed into my face so much that they started to feel forced as a couple, i.e. that they were only together because they’re ‘meant to be’. I didn’t get the chance to know either of them as people, and their constant and instant falling in love irritated me.

My favourite incarnation was probably the 2019 Matthew and Katherine, where they were happily married and both researchers working at the same lab and there’s less insta-love as we’re introduced to them when they were already together. Unfortunately, these two were also the ones with the least screen time—we mostly spend time with them through their notes, chat conversations and email messages, so even their cuteness didn’t manage to bump my rating for this book. Not to mention that present-day Katherine seems to insist that they’re super cool, and I’m just… not convinced. D:

I found the time travel aspect to be super confusing, with not enough explained. When the 1745 and 1854 Matthew and Katherine swapped places, for example, a lot of the times I didn’t even know what was actually happening. Couple that with the fact that I found these two historical incarnations dull and pretty similar in some ways, so whenever it was their turn, I pretty much disconnected from the story.

When we reached the end of the book and it’s revealed why these two were reborn over and over again throughout the centuries, the explanation wasn’t enough to make me think it was a worthwhile journey. Instead, everything was still vague, and the epilogue left much to be desired.

Understandably, this sets the stage for a sequel, but it also makes the book fail as a stand-alone for me. I still have so, so many questions: Who are the ones in control of these two and how, when and where they were reborn? Why did it need to be these two? What’s so special about their [highlight to read spoiler] daughter that they’re brought back again and again just to have her [/end spoiler]? Why does everything have to be so unclear?

The idea behind The Next Together has so much potential—I was just extremely disappointed that the execution didn’t go as smoothly as I had expected it to.

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17 thoughts on “Book Review: The Next Together – Lauren James

  1. OMG! I AM SO HAPPY I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO DIDN’T LOVE THIS! No one complained about my review, but they were all super surprised because thus far I had been the only one who hadn’t fallen in love with the book. But it was just not that great. My favourite timeline was the same as yours too 🙂

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  2. The blurb for this book sounded really interesting but I’ve read a lot of bad reviews so I’m very hesitant about actually reading it. I love time travel books but they can be very hard to actually pull off, and I guess The Next Together didn’t manage it.

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      • Honestly I haven’t read many reviews either but the ones I’ve seen on other blogs all seem to be negative. It’s really put me off this book because, even though it sounds like a really interesting and unique concept, it seems like everyone agrees it was badly done, which is a shame really.
        Time travel is one of my favourite genres but I’ve read a few books where it just hasn’t worked well.

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        • This one’s really more of a reincarnation romance than time travel, although there’s some time travel involved. But if you like time travel for the sciencey or adventurey part of it, this book really doesn’t explain anything–I feel like it’s more relationship-centric, if that makes sense. It’s really quite disappointing. 😦

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  3. Where have I heard this premise before? LOL. It sounds like something so familiar to me. Or maybe I’m thinking of Arrow and Hawkman/girl lore. Damn, sorry to hear it didn’t live up to the potential (lthough I will say I am intrigued by this book as it’s probably the first time I read the synopsis in full).

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    • Time travel isn’t exactly a new plot. 😛

      I was really intrigued by this book too, at least until it basically failed to meet any of my expectations. It’s such a shame–the cover’s gorgeous and it has so, so much potential.

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