Saturday, October 15, 2016

*Spoiler Free Review* First & Then by Emma Mills.

The first book that I finished this year was one I was really looking forward to. I heard amazing things about this book after it came out last year, and ended up giving in and ordering it. But I didn't get around to reading it until the first week of January. 

Synopsis from GoodReads:

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.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It was definitely cute, and I truly liked the take on Pride and Prejudice. I sort of expected it to be just a cutesy YA contemporary where the entire focus is on the romance, etc. But, this book had little direct romance, and actually went pretty deep. There is exploration of parental abandonment, death, lack of drive, college choices, and addiction.

Our main character, Devon, was someone I would like to be friends with. She's funny and observant. She grows throughout the book, but her maturity is mostly due to her newfound "brother" Foster and Ezra. Devon is a great main character, and she's self-deprecating humor kept me smiling throughout the book. But the story really picks up as she gets to know Ezra, the Mr. Darcy-based character. The relationship with Ezra is definitely a slow-burn, and there are very few outright romantic scenes between them--true to Jane Austen classic.

Ezra was, obviously, fantastic. He matched Devon pretty well, and provided a nice element of calm and level-headedness that a lot of YA lacks. His character is well-written and deep. The minor character, Ezra, Marabelle, and Foster, added a lot of depth to the story. Foster and Marabelle (a pregnant teen and friend of Foster's) were the breakaway stars of this book, and I would devour a companion novel about them. The other side characters were mostly one note. Cas was fine, I thought his attitude was a little overdone and unrealistic. Also, I was annoyed by the personality given to Lindsay, it felt like a cop out to paint her as a bad person. But the relationships with all the characters are really well-paced and believable.

I would have liked for there to me more football. You can't give me Friday Night Lights in the pitch and have like two football games. I did love the Austen references throughout. Overall, I gave this book 4/5 STARS. It's a good contemporary, with some real themes. The ending felt a bit rushed with a lot of loose ends, but it was an enjoyable read.

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