Saturday, October 24, 2015

First & Then » Review

This was a quick, sweet contemporary read, but it was not without major flaws that keep it from being a standout.

First & Then follows Devon, a young lady entering her senior year of high school.  She has no idea what she wants to do, and feels like nothing about her is special.  In this way, she reminded me quite a bit of Isla from Stephanie Perkins's Isla and the Happily Ever After.  Only more depressing.

Devon was a bit of a frustrating bore at first, always complaining, snarking, and rolling her eyes over pretty much everything.  Worst of all was her initial hostility and disdain for her younger cousin, Foster, who is staying with Devon's family due to the death and drug abuse going on in his own family unit.  Devon eventually comes around to her peculiar cousin, but too little too late, in my opinion. Why couldn't she love the little geek from the get-go?

The story gets rolling, not because of anything Devon does, but because of Foster's sudden prodigious talent for kicking footballs.  He's thrust into the spotlight and taken under the wing of All-American running back, Ezra Lynley.

Devon, who has always followed the football team with interest, gets more caught up with the team's business.  She hangs around their practices, games, and parties... that's pretty much the book.

There are a ton of arcs that had the potential for great drama, but Mills pulls back in every instance.  She shows us plenty of guns on the wall, but none of them ever fire.  I couldn't think of a more perfect example than the oddball teen, Marabelle, who is pregnant. The identity of Marabelle's baby daddy is hung over our heads, there is a romantic angle between her and Foster that is teased. We discover a surprising connection between Marabelle and another character... Then nothing. Marabelle drops off the map.  It's disconcerting, and it isn't the only character that Mills builds up and lets go.  Like Emir Zurivic, a weird Eastern European high schooler and mob-ish character. We meet him, see him periodically, and then his final scene comes and goes, and it's like... wait. Was that it?!

There are more things I could nitpick, but whatever.  Overall, despite the book being seriously flawed, I still read it in one go.  Despite the faults, Mills has a compelling voice that keeps you reading.

1 comment:

  1. Ugh. Devon was a bit hard to take at first...okay for most of the time, tbh. I eventually warmed up to her, but really towards the ending. Sigh.