4.5 stars · book review

Review : First & Then by Emma Mills

Title : First & Then
Author : Emma Mills
Genre : YA contemporary
Release Date : October 13th, 2015
Publisher : Henry Holt and co.

⭐⭐⭐⭐½

GOODREADS | PURCHASE

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.

The first thing that made me interested to read this book, to be frank, is the cover. It’s so pretty (like all of Emma Mills’s books cover). Secondly, it’s pitched as ‘pride and prejudice meet friday night lights’, and eventhough I have no idea what friday night lights is, i’m definitely down for anything p+p. Sadly, like a lot of books in my tbr pile, this book sat unread for quite some time until I saw Emma’s upcoming book and then thought, ‘hey, I haven’t even read her first book!’. And here I am now, finished reading this book in just a few hours, writing this review.

Upon first glance, I don’t see the resemblance with p+p. I mean who’s Cas supposed to be? and Foster? and Ezra? And yet after I finished reading it, First & Then is somehow one of the most accurate retelling of p+p. One of the protagonist here is Devon Tennyson. Honestly, Devon and I are basically twin. I don’t think I’ve ever relate to a character like this, and I couldn’t stop reading because I need to know more about her and which decisions she took. Both of us are actually good at a lot of things, but we lacked purposes. We didn’t know what we want to do in life (and honestly, I still don’t). That’s why, reading this book, in a way, is like remembering when I went through as a senior 2 years ago.

Other things that I love from it is the family relationship, especially the one between Devon and her cousin, Foster. They spend a lot of time together in this book–both the good times and the bad ones–and we gradually see how Foster became less like a cousin and more like a brother to Devon. It’s so refreshing to read YA books with more family relationship than romantic one. We also see Devon’s parents being caring and loving toward Devon and Foster, and they even support Foster completely when he found out he have a knack for football. Speaking of relationship, the friendship one is also pretty great, though I’d love it more if I know how it’ll be resolved.

Since this is a p+p retelling, I couldn’t not talk about the romance! I’ll keep it brief since I don’t want to give anything away (though personally, I think it was obvious who the love interest is. And no, there’s no love triangle). They didn’t do a lot beside talking, and yet, I was swooning and rooting for them from the very beginning. Above, when I said that First & Then is one of the most accurate retelling, I was actually referring to the romance. I think it’s quite tricky to write romance like that and still have your reader swooning, but Emma Mills did a great job.

In conclusion, First & Then really worth the read. I think I just found a new favorite author, so I’ll definitely read her other books. If you’re looking for contemporary book to try, do read this one.

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