First & Then
by Emma Mills
Expected Publication Date: October 13, 2015
Length: 272 pages
Obtained Via: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my final opinion of the work.
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
View at the Traffic light:
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.
First, I was kinda not feeling this book. Then, things got WAY better. Love when that happens. I can’t say that First & Then quite lived up to my expectations I had thanks to the “Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights” comparison. The Pride & Prejudice comparison is quite good, actually. Main character Devon loves Jane Austen, so why it’s not written in the same style there are fun little parallels at time and the romance definitely has a “they totally misunderstand each other at first ala P&P” vibe. The Friday Night Lights comparison, not so much. I mean, I do kinda get how they came up with it, but at the same time. . . eh, not really.
That being said, this was a fun read. Devon starts out the book not knowing what she wants to do or when she wants to go, and pining after her best friend. Her character growth is really great, and I enjoyed reading about it. I was afraid this book would be love triangle-y, but it’s really not. Devon KNOWS her crush on Cas is never going to amount to anything, though at times she still hopes. Though I’m not sure why, because Cas is not exactly portrayed as being awesome. Actually, my main complaint has to do with his character. I felt most of the other characters, including the secondary ones, got a lot of depth and personality. . . but Cas starts off as a piece of cardboard and remains that way pretty much through out. I’m not sure if it’s because the story is narrated by Devon or because of the writing, but his personality is just. . . missing.
I think the thing I liked the best about First & Then was the AWKWARDNESS. I think sometimes YA skips right over teen awkwardness to concentrate on the romance or development or what have you, but not here. There’s a lot of stuttering and characters saying the wrong thing and becoming mortified. Devon has these moments, as does Ezra, which make their conversations at times an absolute delight. Foster, Devon’s cousin, definitely gets his share of awkwardness as well–there’s plenty to go around. I remember having so many of those same moments as a teen, so in many ways it feels refreshing.
I liked the developing romance between Ezra and Devon, as well as the dynamic between Devon and Foster, but I didn’t quite love this one the way I hoped. I felt there was just something missing to really make it memorable for me. I liked reading it, and I’d recommend it, but I don’t think I’d ever re-read it. On the surface this novel did everything right(except for the lack of personality for Cas–I could have used more of that), but it lacked a certain spark.
First & Then is an entertaining novel with hints of Pride&Prejudice scattered throughout. I don’t have really strong feelings about it, but on the whole I’d say it was good and if you like P&P style relationships, this one’s worth a shot. 3/5 cupcakes.