Review: First & Then by Emma Mills10:00
Author: Emma Mills
Published October 13th 2015 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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.
You'll probably know by now that any book that has anything to do with Pride and Prejudice will be bound to catch my attention, at one point or another. I had heard about First & Then a while ago, via goodreads, but never got around to getting a copy until I discovered by library has ebooks that you can request, and this was top of my wishlist.
First & Then is a sort of modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, taking place in a prestigious school. The main character, Devon, is just trying to cope with school, and get around to the idea of having a new pseudo-sibling, with her estranged cousin having to move in. She denies they're related whenever he's around at school, because he's a bit of an outsider, and spends most of the time dealing with her crush on her best friend, Cas. Then comes the super popular Ezra, who's face is all over the school after he's signed up for all American football. They are the only two seniors in the freshman PE class, so end up being thrust together more often than not. Ezra comes off as a pompous ass at first, but once his true nature comes out, him and Devon grow closer and closer.
I loved Devon and Ezra - they were the perfect Lizzie and Darcy figures that you could ask for in an adaptation. Devon had the snarkiness immediately reminiscent of Lizzie Bennett, and though she didn't have any siblings like Lizzie, the relationship she had with her cousin, Foster, started off like Mr Collins, but soon became similar to her relationship with Jane. Ezra was Mr Darcy to a T. The shyness and aloofness was there from the beginning, but when you discovered the truth about his family, including his interactions with the Wickham and Georgiana-esque characters, you realise why he comes off this way, and he eventually breaks out of his shell with Devon and Foster.
Their romance was extremely swoony, but my only issue was that there wasn't enough of it. It was like the romance in the original story, with glances and touches here and there, but nothing really of substance until right at the end. The book just seemed to end sharply, like I find a lot of contemporary YAs these days. I think if there had been a few more chapters, with a but more of a conclusion, the book could've been much better, but even so, I loved it anyway.
I'd definitely recommend this book, even to people who know nothing about the Pride and Prejudice story. If you know the original tale, you'll be able to work out who's who early on, but even so, the plot twists and storyline is still unique, due to the modern setting of it.