Guest Review: First & Then by Emma Mills

Posted February 17, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 27 Comments

Happy Friday everyone! I got Sophia Rose on the blog tonight, mostly because I completely forgot to post this lovely review of hers earlier. I read and enjoyed this book myself. Enjoy her review, happy weekend!!

Guest Review: First & Then by Emma MillsFirst & Then by Emma Mills
Series: standalone
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on October 13th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

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.

I had heard First & Then described pithily as Pride & Prejudice Meets Friday Night Lights, but, as cool as that sounds, I think it was selling the book a little short. For one, Devon Tennyson, the heroine, is no Elizabeth Bennet even if she thinks she has everyone around her pegged particularly the school’s football god, Ezra, into the role of the prideful Mr. Darcy. Devon does have a thing for Jane Austen novels and takes a ‘what would Jane do?’ approach to things just like there is football on every page. However, this story is not about either of those things. It tackles family, friendship, relationships, self, and transitioning to adulthood.

I found this one a delightful mix of typical YA light contemporary romance with some thoughtful and deeper elements to engage me with Devon and the other characters. The story is narrated in Devon’s first person point of view. It’s not a complex piece and it has no deep conflict or action plot, but it was a heartwarming gently-paced character plot.

Many of the issues I have with YA were not present in this book. For one, I loved how the adults are portrayed. They were natural as were the teens when there is interaction between the two.

There is some angst and inner conflict for the teens in the story, but it wasn’t exaggerated. And there were a lot of wonderful and original teen characters who had their flaws, but they were real and not cookie cutters of the usual cliched high school social strata. Now Devon attempted to shove the other kids into these Jell-O molds, but she spent most of the book learning people can surprise you.

There were a few strong secondary plot threads that added a bit of mystery to the story when it comes to a few of the characters have secrets that left me curious to know what they were holding back. One of the secondary threads was Devon’s relationship with her cousin, Foster, who has come to live with them. I loved seeing that side story develop. Foster was a great character.

There is a romance, but I would say the focus of the story is Devon finding her way. For much of the story, Dev has a crush on Cas her best friend who doesn’t see her that way and has a crush of his own going. This of course blinds her to the quiet guy with the poor social skills who does have an interest if she would just pay attention.

So, this was a cute, heartwarming low-angst story that was well worth the read. I definitely want to pick up the associated book, This Adventure Ends.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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27 responses to “Guest Review: First & Then by Emma Mills

  1. Nice that the characters felt real, including the adults. And even though it was light on the angst the secondary mystery elements sound pretty good. Nice review, sounds like a good YA!

    • I hate that when something is dancing around on the edge of my memory. 😉

      Yes, with YA, I am more drawn toward the ones that focus less on romance and more on personal growth. It was great for that.

  2. I absolutely loved this one too Sophia, it surprised me as I’d heard it was by another Youtuber trying to branch out into writing but wow, what a surprise. She’s such a wonderful talent. The Cas storyline I cold have done without but oh how I loved Foster. He was so lovely and I loved seeing their relationship develop where she came to really care for him. Wonderful review Soph, I really must pick up her other books now. I’m in the mood for something feel good <3

    • Now, that is cool, Kelly! I didn’t realize how the author got her start or that this was a debut story. It sure felt like a veteran writing it. Yeah, if I got impatient with this one, it was with the Cas stuff. Oh, dear Foster. I just wanted to hug on him. 🙂

  3. I’ve seen this cover before but had no clue what the story was about. It sounds like a good read. I’m glad that the parents are actual adults that are present in the story. I feel like absent parents are one of my biggest pet peeves with YA novels.

    • Ugh, yes! The absentee or immature adult style ones drive me nuts. It takes away the reality part of the story for me.

      Oh good! Glad to introduce you to a potential good read, Kristin! 🙂

    • Heh heh, glad to tempt you in, Carole. I thought it had a nice balance of heartwarming and realistic. And yes! Healthy parent/teen relations was a great thing.

  4. I literally just came from a different blog with a GLOWING review for this book. I love realistic contemporaries that have actual depth to them! The romance sounds like it’s going to break my heart, though, since I have a huuuuge love for best friend romances. T_T

  5. I’ve had this one and also Foolish Hearts by Mills on my radar for quite a while. It’s great to see such a positive review of this one. It sounds like there are some strong relationships represented. I enjoyed your review!

    • Yeah! It’s very loose in the connection. If it’s connected to any Austen novels, its Sense & Sensibility since that is her favorite book and the one she is reading during the story. It was a neat one, Aleen!

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