The Next Together
Published by Walker Books
The Next Together is a debut young adult novel that spans across different centuries, but following the same two characters – Katherine and Matthew – as they meet, fall in love, and are tragically separated. Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again, and each time they’re born their presence changes history for the better. But each time they’re thrust back into the world, they grow up not remembering about their history together. Until their paths cross, and memories come flooding back to them.
Maybe the next together will different…
The book presents parallel storylines to the reader so you can read about Katherine and Matthew from each of their different time landscapes. All of the stories are interwoven and mirror what is actually happening in each time landscape. The book spans the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the near-future of 2019 and 2039, and in each storyline, Katherine and Matthew find themselves saving the world. And in the present story, 2039, Katherine and Matthew are wondering why it keeps happening. Why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?
I really liked this book. I thought the book had some flaws, but it was overall a really enjoyable read. Matthew and Katherine are passionate, devoted, motivated, and wonderfully crafted characters. Each chapter of the book contains several letters, diary entries, normal prose or notes from the fridge from different periods of history. Lauren James is a talented writer, and with four time landscapes happening at once, she’s done a wonderful job of not confusing the reader and making the parallel storylines easy to follow and understand. The reader feels completely immersed in each of the story, wondering what is going to happen next but also aware that at some point the characters will be tragically separated from each other. Lauren makes you feel for the characters and invest in their stories, which is exactly what a writer should do.
I felt like Katherine and Matthew’s ‘voices’ in each time landscape were a little too similar. Of course, they are essentially the same people, but they’re in different periods of history. They’ve grown up in completely different circumstances and living conditions, so Katherine and Matthew from the Crimean War shouldn’t have the same ‘voice’ as Katherine and Matthew from 2039.
Also, Katherine and Matthew in 2019 were meant to be a little older, perhaps in their mid to late twenties, but they sounded too young. The notes they left on the fridge for each other were adorable, yes, but representative of the way the youth speak. They were overexcited and playful, but it didn’t match their ages.
Despite this, I did read this book in one sitting. It’s a unique premise and one that I really enjoyed. Once you can get your head around the alternate time landscapes, it’s very easy to keep track of the plot and become completely invested in it. It’s the first in a series, with the sequel The Last Beginning coming out in November 2016. I recommend The Next Together to all fans of young adult and romance novels.