First & Then has me in a mixed pot of likes and dislikes. Which is why CLEARLY this review needs to come in list format. There is no other way. Because this book is about football. SPORT. I do not sport, ergo it’s really not my kind of book. And I didn’t know it was about football because the blurb barely hints at it and look at that cover!! Peoples — that cover does not say football. It says arty soliloquies and midnight cupcake. Needless to say: don’t cover judge.
Onwards with the likes and dislikes!
- The characters were really, really well written. They were so dimensional and complex! And while I wasn’t a huge fan of the narrator, Devon, I really loved all the side-characters…and even though there was a huge supporting cast, they all leapt off the page with details and depth. You might say I’m a mild fan of that. (AKA: Raging! Happy! Fan! Of! This! Fact!)
- The book isn’t overly romantic because Devon is having a Who Do I Like Teen Life Crisis. BUT. It was dynamic and shippable. I like. Devon’s had a crush on her BFF (Cas) since…forever. But Ezra is actually interested in her despite being about as fun to be around as a brick wall. BUT I WAS ROOTING FOR MY OTP SO BAD. (Also I wouldn’t call it a triangle because they’re not all fighting each other for one person…just trying to figure out feelings.)
- Devon’s cousin (Foster) has moved in with them because of Complex Family Issues, and he was a real sweetie. Kind of dorky? Kind of in need of protection? Kind of more capable than everyone gave him credit for?!
- The writing was a factual and sensible and detailed. I admit, I prefer whimsical destruction — buuuut, this book really won me over for just downright good writing. LET ME HUZZAH.
- Devon is a bookworm! BOOKWORM ALERT! Although…she like only reads Austen, but still.
- Devon is…a…boy’s name…EXCEPT DEVON HERE IS A GIRL. Usually I’m all for gender-neutral names, but I literally spent several pages thinking Devon was a dude and wut wut wut. #awkward
- It’s about football. Did I mention that?!?! The first 100-pages are severely football and then it squishes into high school antics and parties. The parties weren’t “wild-let’s-get-everything-drunk-and-scream-at-each-other” because Devon is not that kind of person. But still…I don’t care about sports or parties or college applications. The actual story line was lost to me in a mountain of MEH.
- Plus, while I admired Devon for being serious, slightly sarcastic, and not outgoing — she was kind of boring to read about. She had no goals. And while that’s the POINT of the story in a way, I don’t understand how she just wasn’t passionate about anything.
- The book is slow. SLOW. And while the writing was a pleasure to read, it’s a comfortable, slow story and kind of nap inducing.
- And even though one of Devon’s relationships with another character is my FAVOURITE THING OF EVER…I have to squint at it suspiciously. Spoiler below says why.
I’m half and half about this book, honestly! I LIKE. But I wasn’t in love and I had a fair few snoozy moments. Although there was a particular description of french onion dip and chips that quite had my attention. PLUS: these characters were adorable and amazing and I loved them enormous amount. It was a sweet story…but not exactly “my thing”.
THANK YOU TO PAN MACMILLAN FOR THE REVIEW-COPY! First & Then by Emma Mills publishes in Australia on January 15th, 2016
Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.
Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.
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