I was very eager to start on The Last Beginning, which is a companion novel to, rather than a sequel of The Next Together. While the first book was a reincarnation/romance SF story, this one focuses on time travel, which I am more into. The main character is Clove Sutcliffe, someone from a future where The Next Together‘s “present-time” Katherine and Matthew had long ago vanished without a trace.
A relation of theirs, Clove was determined to find Katherine and Matthew, especially when she discovered that they had been reincarnated at key moments in history. As her scientist parents’ experiments in building a working time machine was pending for approval for human trials, Clove decided to sneak away to become the first time traveler, and find out what really happened to Katherine and Matthew.
While The Next Together started out a little slow for me – I had to get used to the parts set in the past, and the format – this book was entertaining from the start. During her first foray back in time Clove meets Ella, whose sense of humour seem to mirror Katherine’s a lot – perhaps too much. I think if it was any other book/character I wouldn’t like that the two characters are so similar, but I was missing Katherine’s personality (as she isn’t a main character here), so I appreciated Ella’s presence.
Clove and Ella ended up traveling through multiple timelines, occasionally screwing up to the point of changing Clove’s entire future (they had to go and change it again, Back to the Future style). They fell in love, which isn’t a surprise as (1) they’re so cute together, (2) there were bits of wikipedia-like entries in between chapters set in their future, which said they’re together, and (3) this is a YA book, some things do get predictable. More importantly, though, their adventures became the source of a guideline/law for all time travelers in their future.
I really don’t want to give anything else away when it comes to the plot, but here’s a short version: Clove and Ella, in their time traveling adventures, find out the truth about Katherine and Matthew while working out the kinks of time travel, while slowly revealing/explaining Katherine and Matthew’s reincarnations in The Next Together.
Like with The Next Together, I loved that this book managed to include a lot of interesting, different elements and made it WORK, but in the end it was the characters and relationships that made this book for me. I loved Clove and Ella. I liked Clove’s friendship with her best friend Meg. When Clove met Katherine and Matthew (or, various Katherines and Matthews), I liked her interactions with them. And I adore Clove’s parents, Tom and Jen – they’re fun and such good parents to her, which was nice to see in a YA book.
Basically, this is the YA time travel book that most YA time travel books wish they could be.