lauren james

YALC Reading List Part SIX!

It’s already time for Part SIX(!) of the YALC Reading List and it’s another cracker.

Catch up or re-read the first five parts here – one, two, three, four, and five!

The YALC Reading List is updated every Sunday evening.

44. Emerald Fennell

Book to read: Monsters

You might recognise Emerald from her roles in Call the Midwife or Anna Karenina, but when she’s not acting, she’s also an author. Her first and second novels, Shiverton Hall and The Creeper, were both shortlisted for the Waterstones Childrens Book Prixe, and her latest novel, Monsters, is an adult novel that was released last September. Monsters has been billed as darkly comic murder thriller, focusing on two twelve year olds who decide to investigate and re-enact some recent murders in Cornwall. This one sounds interesting and has some amazing reviews.

45. Natalie Flynn

Book to read: The Deepest Cut

The Deepest Cut is Natalie Flynn’s debut novel, and centres around Adam, a boy who blames himself for his best friend’s murder and subsequently attempts suicide. Put in the care of a local mental health facility and too traumatised to speak, he starts to write notebooks in an attempt to move on. This book came out recently (May 24th) so expect to see it in bookshops now.

46. Sally Green

Book to read: The Half Bad series

I feel like a lot of people have read this series and loved it so I’m sure it needs no introduction to many of you. Based in a world where humans and witches live together, Nathan, the son of the world’s most powerful and violent witch, Marcus, must escape his cage and track down his father to receive his powers. The third and final book, Half Lost, was released earlier this year.

47. Julia Gray

Book to read: The Otherlife

Another multi-talented author on this list, Julia Gray is an author and singer-songwriter, having released five albums. Her first novel, The Otherlife, is the story of Ben, who has visions of The Otherlife, where gods and monsters roam. Hobie, the school bully, fascinated by Ben’s visions, befriends him. But when, years later, Ben’s best friend and tutor Jason dies, Ben can’t help but feel Hobie has something to do with it… This book sounds like a really cool concept, and it is released on July 7th.

48. Lisa Heathfield

Book to read: Seed/Paper Butterflies

You can find my reviews of Seed and Paper Butterflies here and here. Both of Lisa’s novels tackle difficult issues – Seed is about a girl raised in a cult and struggling with her identity, and Paper Butterflies is about a girl who suffers child abuse. Both these books are hard-hitting and, at times, difficult to read. Seed is out now and Paper Butterflies will be released 30 June.

49. Claire Hennessy

Book to read: Nothing Tastes As Good

This one is one I’m really excited about. Claire’s debut YA novel follows Annabel, a recently deceased anorexic teen, assigned as a helper to Julia, who also has a difficult relationship with food. This one comes out July 14, so I might pick this one up at YALC.

50. Rhian Ivory

Book to read: The Boy who drew the Future

This is Rhian’s fifth novel, and focuses on two boys who live in the same village 100 years apart, but who have the same gift – they can draw the future. Set in the 1860s and the 1960s, this sounds like a cool historical novel, and it has some amazing reviews on Goodreads.

51. Lauren James

Lauren’s first novel The Next Together (review here) is the story of a couple, Katherine and Matthew, who exists in several timestreams but appear to be always doomed. This is such an interesting concept and take on historical romance, and I loved that it featured so much science. Lauren’s next book, the sequel to The Next Together, The Last Beginning, is due out in October.

That’s it for this week’s installment – which books should I be reading immediately? Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks!

Annalise x

Review: The Next Together

The Next Together
The Next Together by Lauren James

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m going to warn you now: I have a lot of feelings about The Next Together. I’ve spent the entire weekend talking about it (and for half of that I was abroad, alone).

First off, the cover. I’m not a huge, huge fan, but I think it works. It’s a really good advertisement for the book – it’s original, interesting and not-your-typical-romance novel.

The Next Together follows the story of Katherine and Matthew, a couple who are destined to be together but haven’t quite made it there yet. They have been reincarnated through the ages, first as an aristocrat and a servant in 1745 who fall in love whilst preparing for a siege on Carlisle by the Scottish, then as a war correspondent for The Times (Matthew) and his assistant (Katherine, this time in drag). We then follow them in 2019 as research scientists through a series of emails, letters and notes on the fridge, and in 2039, as chemistry students at the University of Nottingham.

I really liked the way this book is set out – it flits between the time-streams every couple of pages, resulting in short chapters and even shorter sub-chapters. This made the book really easy to read, and I zoomed through it in a couple of days.

The Next Together is a really original book for the YA market both in plot and format – the emails and newspaper entries reminded me a lot of Illuminae, but I felt that this way of conveying information was much more successful here (because there was a lot less of it, and the information was a lot more interesting). I also really appreciated that science was featured in the book – because I’m a scientist – and it was really clever to combine both a historical novel and a futuristic sci-fi novel into one.

So why isn’t this book getting 5 stars?

  1. I didn’t really click with the characters. This may just be me. I think an issue with combining four novels into one, is that each character doesn’t get enough screen-time. Some of the romances felt rushed, very sudden and unexpected, and I didn’t quite feel a slow build-up of feelings over time that would have been more believable. Would it really be feasible to devote enough screen-time to each character? No, not really, unless you want a 1600-page book.
  2. The ending. Near the end, the plot gets very confusing (there’s time travel involved) and – this is the crucial bit for me – there’s no real resolution. There’s a hint at a resolution. I was hoping for something really clever, maybe even a bit scientific – I really, really wanted a satisfying ending. The ending feels very rushed, but I will say this – I didn’t see the plot twist coming, and although it feels a little out of place, it does make sense.

I would have rated this book a lot higher if it had been a stand-alone novel – it felt like a stand-alone, and then it was left on a cliff-hanger. I want more stand-alone novels in YA – I don’t want to commit to reading an entire 13-book series every time I pick up a new book.

So would I recommend The Next Together? Yes, because I’m sure other people have clicked with this novel a lot better than I did. It’s original, funny and an easy-read – just expect to have to need to read the next book once you’ve finished.

View all my reviews

Annalise x