Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on October 13th 2015
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.
Hi book friends! Today I’m reviewing First & Then by Emma Mills! This was the October Uppercase Box book!
WHAT I LIKED
The relationships. All of the relationships (except the romance, I’ll get into that later) were excellently written. The one that I especially loved was Foster and Devon. She started off being annoyed by him and viewing him as a burden. He was just her “annoying little cousin.” As the book progressed, she started to think of him more as a brother and had more respect for him. She also enjoyed spending time with him more. This had to do with both Foster becoming more mature as his group of friends broadened and with Devon seeing him through the eyes of a popular boy at her school, Ezra. Another relationship that was written very well was Devon and Lindsay. Devon started off not really caring much for Lindsay and thought of her as an obstacle between herself and Cas. They developed a great friendship through the book that I think was really important to Devon.
The main characters. Devon was a really interesting character. She was hilarious! Some of the things she said really cracked me up. She had an excellent character arc as well. She went from a lonely person who didn’t really care about anything to a person surrounded by friends who had dreams and goals. She cared deeply for the people she loved, especially Cas. Honestly, her relationship with Cas was quite sad. She just couldn’t accept that he would never like her back. However, I think this is one of the aspects that made her character so realistic.
THE COVER. OMGGGGGGGGG.
WHAT I DID NOT LIKE
A lot of seemingly important issues were barely touched upon. One of these is Marabelle. I didn’t understand the purpose of her character. Another example is Emir. HUH? I had no idea who he was and his character confused me so much. Also, the author barely talked about Foster’s parents. You would think having a mother in rehab would be a big deal for a 14 year old, but it wasn’t. There were a lot of loose ends and I was pretty confused.
The pacing. It was very uneven; it was slow at some points and fast at some points. It was a challenging read because of this and I found this aspect to be very annoying.
The writing. No offense to the author, but the writing was very choppy. It was not my style. I prefer for pretty writing and this one sadly didn’t have that.
The romance. I didn’t feel it AT ALL. Ezra was an awful character. He was soooo stereotypical and nothing like Mr. Darcy, who he was supposed be based off. Mr. Darcy is a complex character. Ezra? He’s a stereotypical bore. The romance was very slow and when the finally got together in the end, it was extremely anti-climatic. Some authors are really good at writing kissing scenes and some authors are not. Unfortunately, Emma Mills is one of the latter. The romance didn’t give me any feels and overall fell short for me. This is a huge contender in the rating because it is a romance based book.
The Jane Austen thing felt like a gimmick. Devon professed her love for Jane Austen in the beginning of the book and quoted her a few times throughout the book. The Austen thing really just disappeared in the middle of the book and came up again towards the end when Ezra admitted that he bought Pride and Prejudice to get Devon to like him. Also, the book was supposed to be a Pride and Prejudice retelling! WHAT?????
The ending. It was so abrupt and created so many questions. Where does Devon go to college? What happens with Foster? SO MANY QUESTIONS.
The conflict. Something that I am sick of in YA is the trope that all romantic conflict comes though miscommunication. This book had that trope as well and it was not done well. At all. I was just angry and Devon and Ezra and wanted to bash my head against the wall.
First & Then was a mediocre read. It has a setting, a small Southern town that highlights football, with lots of potential but no utilization. It had great relationships of the family and friend variety, but the romance had no effect on me. There were a lot of loose endings and the pacing and writing did not sit well with me.
Have you read First & Then? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!