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The Last Beginning

Review

The Last Beginning

After saving their country from a government bioterrorism plot, Katherine Finchley and Matthew Galloway became famous worldwide.

However, they soon vanished without a trace. Sixteen years later, Clove Sutcliffe is intrigued by time traveling after her parents, Jen and Tom, build a time machine. She vows that someday, she will be the first person to travel through time. When Clove’s world is rocked by unexpected news about her family, she must find a way to solve the mystery of her past through time travel.

Even though this book was the sequel to THE NEXT TOGETHER, I had not read that book before reading this one. While I do wish I’d read it, if only to make me feel more invested in some of the characters, I felt as though THE LAST BEGINNING stood on its own well.

"There are many YA books...about time travel, but something about THE LAST BEGINNING stands out to me....I thought it had many unique aspects."

A unique touch to the book were the diagrams, messages, photos and other various ways of communication at the beginning of the chapters. These really added to the book, in my opinion, and helped share important details and backstory without having to address them in other parts of the book. However, some of them were from the book’s future and were a bit confusing since I had no clue who some messages were referring to. After finishing the book, these became much clearer and I understood those sections more.

I thought the dialogue was witty, clever and a very strong point in the book. The relationship between Clove, Jen and Tom was amazing and very well written. I loved how both Jen and Tom were very strong characters, great parents and heavily involved in science.

The use of technology throughout the book was also a highlight. While some of this technology was fictional, James did an excellent job of coming up with explanations for what it was and how it worked. Even though many of the time travel concepts in the book were rather complicated, they were explained well and made sense. One major technology used throughout the book is Clove’s Artificial Intelligence, Spart. I’m always a sucker for a good robot or computer sidekick, and Spart definitely did not disappoint. His sense of humor and messages to Clove were another one of the highlights, in my opinion.

Another neat touch was the use of different fonts for different time periods. It was very small, but this detail only added to the reading experience.

At first, I wasn’t too thrilled with the way one of the subplots was wrapped up, since it seemed like a bit of an easy option to take. However, continuing on made me appreciate what actually happened more and I was satisfied with how the book ended.

There are many YA books out there about time travel, but something about THE LAST BEGINNING stands out to me. While it very easily could’ve been cliché and bland, I thought it had many unique aspects.

Even though I would’ve liked for the beginning of the book to have a faster pace, it soon picked up and I found it hard to put down towards the end. I eagerly look forward to seeing how James follows THE LAST BEGINNING and continues her writing career.

Reviewed by Breck G., Teen Board Member on March 27, 2018

The Last Beginning
by Lauren James