The Last Beginning by Lauren James
Published October 6th 2016 by Walker Books
’Clove Sutcliffe, you are doing things no human has ever done before. You are groundbreaking. You are unique. Do not cease to function due to inappropriate emotional weakness.
The epic conclusion to Lauren James’s debut The Next Together about true love and reincarnation.
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, and failure could cost the world everything.
After I finished The Next Together I dove STRAIGHT into its sequel The Last Beginning and this book was even more than I had hoped it would be. Although technically chronological (sort of) it IS a sequel it feels like so much more than that, it feels almost like a puzzle piece we didn’t quite realise was missing from the first book or an extra dimension to it as well as a following on from it as well as happening at the same time in points and…Okay it’s hard to explain which is kind of a part of why I loved it so much, I like books that make you smack your self in the head and yell “of course! How had I not noticed or picked up on that before I’m such an idiot” etc and this book had a lot of that and “ooooh” “ahhhh” and “of course that makes sense!”
I’m not sure who I loved more, Clove who makes some questionable choices (don’t we all) but ultimately does her best and feels like a character I know inside out, Ella, the “love of Clove’s life” who is brash, cocky and overconfident but wants to help and do the right thing just as much as Clove does OR Katherine and Matthew who I didn’t quite realise until reading this and their extra short story (which I’ll be reviewing next!) may actually be my favorite couple ever and lets not get started on Spart the sassy A.I who loves to watch soap operas. Turns out I love them all for different reasons and that’s what really made this book for me, yes I may not have liked a lot of the things Ella said for did at times but that’s just how she was and it made sense and as I’ve noticed in another book I read this week you don’t have to like an agree with a character’s behaviour or actions for them to be a character you enjoy or appreciate.
I’ll admit I did find some of the time travel staff rather confusing but honestly when it’s it a little brain ache inducing? Clove’s timeline is chock full of paradoxes and it kind of gets explained how that works a little but I just spent 15 minutes trying to explain it and I have no words but I promise you it kind of makes sense when described articulately. Articulate description is another reason I enjoyed this reason so much, even when time travel was making my brain hurt it made sense, (mostly) everything was described in a reasonable way and made sense even if the paradox explanation seems a little vague but we’re talking time travel here so how it works is more speculation anyway. The Last Beginning however breathes a bit more life into the idea.
Speaking of breathing more life into ideas this book completes The Next Together for me and has raised my (already fairly high) opinion of it. This book has the questions to my answers and I have to keep reminding myself they are in fact in two seperate books. I aplaude Lauren James for being able to keep all of this (the timeline especially) in her mind for long enough to get it to the page and to have done so in such an interesting, intriguing and fun way while also telling us the stories of these people along the way, it’s honestly fantastic.
It feels strange to give this book a XXXXX and The Next Together XXXX when although I loved the heck out of this book I now feel like the first is my favourite but it is the happenings and events that occur in THIS book that add to my appreciation of its predecessor so I feel changing my ratings would be unfair. If you are considering trying this duology I recommend buying both books at the same time so you can dive out of one and straight into the sequel, you will not be dissapointed.
Also most importantly Romy, The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is mentioned by name (and title) at the end of The Last Beginning and honestly that just made me whole day.
Mini review to come of the two Next Together novellas later this week.