What: The Last Beginning (The Next Together #2) by Lauren James
Who: Walker Books
When: October 6th 2016
How: A copy of this novel was provided by Walker Books Australia for review.
The epic conclusion to Lauren James’ debut The Next Together about love, destiny and time travel.
Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Katherine and Matthew vanished without a trace. Now Clove Sutcliffe is determined to find her long lost relatives. But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history? Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? And who is the mysterious Ella, who keeps appearing at every turn in Clove’s investigation?
For Clove, there is a mystery to solve in the past and a love to find in the future.
Five things you need to know about The Last Beginning:
1) It’s LGBTQIA+
The main character, Clove, is gay *cheering* I think we all know gay boys have a lot more page time in YA than gay girls, so it was exciting to read about a girl who knew she was gay, had already told her friends and family, and was 100% sure and proud of who she was. And this is also genre fiction, so to have a queer girl at its helm was pretty darn incredible if I do say so myself.
2) It fixes some of the confusion in The Next Together
In The Next Together, there was some confusion about what it was – science or time travel or paranormal powers. In The Last Beginning this is all explained, which I really appreciated. I don’t like being left up in the air about anything, especially when it has to do with time, so I was appreciative of the fact that The Last Beginning cleared up everything pretty nicely.
3) Clove is annoying as hell
If you don’t require your leading ladies to be 100% likeable then you don’t need to worry about this point. Because I can’t really say with any certainty that Clove was a likeable character. Sure, she had likeable traits, but overall I was not very impressed with her character.
She was incredibly childish at times (and before I get berated about teens acting like teens Clove chucked hissy fits and was rude to everyone for no reason) and didn’t exactly think through a lot of things before doing them. I mean, if you read this book there is one massive thing that happens that Clove is responsible for and it made no sense that she did this thing in the first place, and the consequences were terrible.
4) It’s not overly romantic
I was, to be honest, expecting a lot of girl love in this book but it really was not the focus of the novel. I mean, yay for romance not being the driving force in a sci-fi novel, but I also wanted so much more of Ella and Clove’s relationship than I was given. The little tid-bits of the future were cute as hell, but I wanted to see the girls falling in love and dating and kissing and doing all that other couple-y stuff that we got so much of with Kate and Matt in the Next Together.
5) It closes off a solid duology
I have a thing for duologies because they require less time and commitment than trilogies, but allow for more exploration than standalones. So I appreciated the fact that this story took place over two books, and also focussed on two different overall stories, too (although they were super connected). I genuinely enjoyed this duology as a whole, and there is a chance I might read it again in the future, now that I know everything that happens.
If you’re looking for a pretty unique story that involves travelling through time and learning the consequences of your actions then I’d say give this series a go.
© 2016, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.
trigger warning: death of a parent, death via radiation poisoning, manslaughter, war themes, queerphobia, imprisonment, near drowning experience, and oppressive government regime in this novel