How many times can you lose the person you love? 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. Spanning the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the near-future of 2019 and 2039 they find themselves sacrificing their lives to save the world. But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace? Maybe the next together will be different… A powerful and epic debut novel for teenagers about time-travel, fate and the timelessness of first love. The Next Together is told through a mixture of regular prose, diary entries, letters, “original” historical documents, news reports and internet articles.I don’t even know where to start with The Next Together. It’s just one big punch of awesome. That’s probably the best way to sum up this incredibly unique and totally addictive mix of sci-fi, time travel and historical fiction. Sweeping through four time periods, The Next Together is one hell of a journey which kept me guessing from the very first page.
Through newspaper clippings, maps, historical documents, social media posts, emails, diary entries, letters and notes The Next Together explores the story of Matt and Kate; doomed to keep losing each other across many lifetimes. There’s a touch of Quantum Leap to the storyline with the pair having to re-write the wrongs of history in each time frame, something which instantly intrigued me.
Although The Next Together isn’t quite about parallel histories, it does explore how some acts could have changed the course of what we know to be true. While much of The Next Together is fictionalised, the depth of research behind it is evident. James has grounded the Crimean War and Siege of Carlisle time periods in truth, but this never weighed down the story. Likewise, the 2019 and 2039 time frames didn’t feel entirely unrealistic, especially when it came to political tensions in Europe. I loved the way the book bounced between each time frame and while it took me a while to get into the flow, I was immediately intrigued. James perfectly balanced each time period, giving just enough away in each snippet to keep me wanting more.
Love stories really aren’t my thing, but I found myself getting pretty wrapped up in Kate and Matt. Particularly 2019 Kate and Matt (my favourite pairing), whose interactions felt so authentic and easygoing. There was a pretty heavy focus on romance in The Next Together, but surprisingly I really enjoyed it. In some of the historical time frames I found it hard to believe things could move so swiftly (especially in the Crimea), but in the end I was so caught up in their story I didn’t even care. I was slightly disappointed with the conclusion, but only because I would have been happy to read a little more detail and to understand better Kate and Matt’s purpose. Nonetheless, I am incredibly excited to read the sequel, The Last Beginning.
I’m not usually one for sci-fi or romance, but I was immediately engrossed and swept along on a terrific adventure with Kate and Matt. The Next Together is a unique, entertaining and energetic read which kept me guessing the whole way through.