Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: SciFi, Time Travel
Release Date: October 6th 2016
Buy The Book: Book Depository
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.
Oh my GOSH. I don’t even know where to start with this book. Since I read The Next Together, I have been dying (literally DYING) to get my hands on this sequel, and let me tell you, it was everything I wanted it to be and more. The Last Beginning follows Clove, the daughter of Katherine and Matthew, who was born right at the end of the previous book. It’s been sixteen years since her birth, and she has grown up believing that Matthew’s brother Tom, and Tom’s wife Jen, are her biological parents. When she discovers the truth about her past, she makes the decision to use the time machine created by Tom and Jen to get some answers. But time travel is tricky, and not everything goes to plan.
First of all, let my start by saying that this book is so CLEVER. Honestly, the way it ties in with the first book is brilliant and well thought out. I had to grab my copy of The Next Together from my shelf and go back to certain parts now that I understood it more. There were so many ‘OOOOHHHHH’ moments and I need to praise Lauren James for her wonderful brain. The time travel in the story works out so well, and I love that whilst the plot was intricate and complex, I never felt too confused by what was happening. I’ve read time-travel stories before that have just mind-boggled me to the point that it wasn’t enjoyable, but James explains everything perfectly in due course.
So moving on to the characters. I LOVE CLOVE AND ELLA SO MUCH, I CAN’T EVEN BEGIN TO EXPLAIN. Their chemistry is perfect and I was living for scenes between them. (I would also highly recommend reading Lauren’s lovely post about her decision to give this sequel an LGBT protagonist.) Clove journeying through time leads her to cross paths with Ella, who is more linked to Clove’s timeline than she ever could have imagined. Their relationship builds beautifully and the lighthearted moments between them made for touching breaks in the tension-filled race through time. It was great to also revisit characters I thought we’d left behind in the first book (like certain coachmen from a certain year…) AND I NEED TO MENTION HOW MUCH I LOVE SPART, OH MY GOD. Spart is an AI created by Tom and finally I was able to find out what was behind the computer text that appeared throughout The Next Together. Spart was so much fun and I want my own one. When will it be a thing??
Like with The Next Together, the story was told in part through articles, documents, and excerpts. There was also the lovely addition of social media interaction between Clove and Ella, with even a couple of adorable Snapchats thrown in too. These little inserts bring another layer to the story and the characters, and the story works so much better because of them. The language used was current and relatable, and I loved the references cleverly dotted throughout. Also, the humour is on point.
This story perfectly tied up every loose end from the first book and it was satisfying to realise how the two books threaded together to create such a smart story. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect conclusion. I also need to mention how believable the writing was - it made me feel as though any of the events that happened within the pages could actually happen in real life (YES, I AM EXPECTING A WORKING TIME MACHINE BY THE YEAR 2056). I’m so glad I decided to read this thrilling SciFi duology and I’m super excited for whatever stories Lauren James might have planned in the future.