First & Then, a Novel by Emma Mills [Review and Recommendation]11:20 PM
I watched Elmify (Author, Emma Mills) on YouTube in middle school, when I attempted to make my own channel inspired by hers. That was, undoubtedly, a preconceived failure. My middle school years turned to high school years, and I didn't have time to watch my dear Elmify anymore. Little did I know that I'd turn right back into a more mature, sophisticated (or so I like to think) version of my middle school self once I reached the college level. What I'm trying to say is, I spend a lot of time with my nose in a book, my fingers with a pen or on a keyboard, or my eyes on a screen, watching booktube or, like, the vlogbrothers. I'm basically just a better looking, more mentally, emotionally, and physically stable version of my middle-school self. And I'm so fine with that.
So here I was, perusing Booktube, Elmify and her wit not having crossed my mind since the day I received my eighth grade diploma and award for perfect attendance, and moved on to "bigger" and "better" things. One of my favorite booktubers holds up Emma Mills' book and says something along the lines of, "This book is by Elmify, another youtuber," and I was struck dumb. My Elmify had published a book. What a dream. I always knew I loved her.
I put First & Then on my Christmas wish-list and it was a done deal. Now I'm here to tell you about my experience reading it.
First things first, the book centers around Devon Tennyson, a particularly apathetic and ordinary senior in high school. She silently watches her best-friend and forever crush, Cas, from the sidelines of the football field. Her normal life is flipped when her family takes in her cousin, Foster. Foster asks a lot of questions and doesn't seem to fit in quite the way the other kids do, but he has a secret talent that Ezra Lynley, the star of the football team, cannot ignore. Ezra takes a liking to Foster, and maybe someone else, when he realizes the freshman's potential as a kicker on the football team. First Foster, and then Ezra, are thrust into Devon's life without her control.
How did I feel about it?
The writing - the writing was inexplicably witty and intelligent. I recall this from Elmify's videos, and really enjoyed reading her style of writing. She's smart, but at the same time laugh-out-loud funny. Seriously, I haven't giggled into the creases of a book since I read The Rosie Project. 5/5.
The plot - I'm not going to lie. I felt that the first 150 pages, though incredibly well written, were a little slow. No much was really going on for a while. I pushed through because I had faith in the quality of Emma's writing. Eventually, though, it does pick up and from there it gets very interesting. There are a lot of small aspects from the beginning woven into the end, and I enjoyed that. 3/5.
The characters - I can't say I'm surprised since I'm in love with Mr. Darcy, but I'm also in love with Ezra Lynley. First of all, he's sultry and comes of as a total asshat. No kidding, in real life I've always thought that the man I fall in love with will probably somewhat of a jerk to others, but a sweetheart to me. But that's not up for discussion right now; I'll save it for another blog post, I promise. Besides Devon, the characters all had some sort of backstory that brought a bit of mystery to the book, just like real life. You never really know what people are going through or have gone through. This existed for Ezra as well, which drew me into him even further. Ugh. I just. Can't. Woah. I was slightly bothered by how apathetic and seemingly boring Devon was, but that was sort of the point of a lot of the book, so I can't be too bothered. 4/5.
While it took me a while to really start flipping the pages, I liked this book a lot. It gave me a lot of smiles, laughs, and thought-provoking moments. I look forward to seeing what else Emma Mills, perviously known to me as Elmify, writes in the future. I know that she has two more books signed with her publisher thus far. 4/5.
Forewarnings to a younger audience reading this book: a lot of underage drinking, talk of sex, talk of parental drug abuse. Besides that, there's some kissing and swearing, but it really isn't obscene. I'd recommend for 13+.
If you're looking for a cozy, funny, relatable read, this is a good one to pick up.
Oh yeah, Happy New Year!