First & Then by Emma Mills

Synopsis

Snarky female heroine, Devon, is in love with her total douche friend, Cas, or so she thinks until she starts spending more time with misunderstood and misrepresented prideful quarterback star of her school, Ezra. So, that being said, now I’ll just tell you that this is a Pride & Prejudice retelling and let you work out where the story ends up from there.

First & Then by Emma Mills

★★
Genre: YA Romance/Retelling
Release Date: October 2015
Source: Library – Borrowed
On My Shelf: No

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When I saw this book circling around the internet book community, I thought the cover looked cute. When I found out it was a P&P retelling, my need to read it increased by about 5 bajillion percent. I went from zero to no chill in 2 seconds flat. Still, for some reason I didn’t go out and buy it immediately. I waited to read this until I finally saw it sitting on the self at the Library. It seemed the universe had my back on this one, as it turns out I ended up not caring much for this book.

I waited too long to write my review of this, because I came to a complete standstill when it came to me trying to write down what exactly I didn’t like about it. Then, I realized how to sum it all up from my lack of ideas: This book was forgettable. It wasn’t terrible. It didn’t make me angry. I didn’t hate the characters. The writing wasn’t bad. I was just bored.

In this story Mills did a pretty good job of retelling P&P (trust me on this one, I’m pretty obsessed) set in high school, but I wasn’t overly impressed. It was a bit too insta-love for me, whereas P&P is like literally the slowest burn in the history of romance. It all happened a bit too fast and the rest of the plot was too much fluff to keep me engaged. (Pun?)…(Maybe)…

Most of the characters lacked development and relied too much on the original story, except for Foster’s character. I’m pretty sure he was supposed to be the Mr. Collins of the group, and it just didn’t fit. His character was way too far of a stretch to be Mr. Collins. I think it’s mostly because Mr. Collins is a despicable character and is basically the embodiment of the patriarchy in the original story.

AKA, he is the youngest male in the Bennet family, therefore inheriting everything the family owns upon Lizzie’s dad’s death. This, under normal period circumstances, would have entitled him to any girl in the family, as she would have been married off so the wealth would stay within the family and not pass on to, quite frankly, a villain who could do what he pleased with the estate and the women who occupy(ied–if he forces them out, which he would be able to do if he so desired) it. He is also incredibly vindictive after marrying Lizzie’s best friend, Charlotte, who is already an “old maid” and could not have done better, thus showcasing how women often fell into the patriarchy because they had no other options available to them. This, then, leads Mr. Collins to have basically married Charlotte out of spite and perhaps a little fear of being alone, but mainly because, as a priest, it was imperative that he marry. Then, once Lizzie visits, he carefully points out everything that Lizzie will never have because she has chosen to defy the patriarchy and refuse his offer of marriage. Because, of course, he thinks she will never do better and is outraged by the audacity of her exercising free will. But look at me reading way too far into a high school drama.

And that is the main reason Foster’s character doesn’t fit. Sure, they are both social outcasts, but the original is a character representing the society that Lizzie despised while Foster is the most precious cinnamon roll that ever did live. Also, the whole thing with Maribelle (or however you spell her name) was just strange and awkward and I didn’t like it.

But, even if the other characters were alright, I didn’t particularly connect with any of them either, not even the MC, Devon, which is a shame, because I basically am Lizzie Bennet (seriously, she’s my go-to whenever someone/a tag/a quiz asks which literary character I am) and the connection just wasn’t there in this book. did like that she had a healthy family dynamic, but that actually is contrasting to the original P&P, in which Austen critiques the family quite harshly through Lizzie and examins their dynamic in detail, especially her mother and wonders often why her father chose to marry her and how the arrangement could have ever come about. Mainly because they were both from lower-middle-class families and didn’t have many options. Love had very little to do with it, and their matrimony relied much more heavily on circumstance.

I JUST KNOW A LOT ABOUT P&P OKAY????

Now, it may seem that I’ve complained to the high heavens and back, but I actually would most likely still recommend this book. Just because it didn’t work well for me mainly because my affair with P&P burns with the passion of a thousand hell fires, but many people did really enjoy this book, and I by no means hated it or thought it poorly represented anyone, so, if you’re looking for a light, fluff romance, go ahead and give this one a try. The only way I would say stay away is if you’re as passionate about the original as I am. Or, maybe it might still work for you, since I can often be too critical of books. Even so, I wouldn’t have a problem picking up another book by Mills and giving it a go.

Book Depository – $9.99

The End

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