A well-written romance from the team behind the brilliant and hugely successful Five Feet Apart.
Kyle is convinced Kimberley is the only girl for him. They’ve been together for years and – at least as far as he’s concerned – they’re perfect for each other. For example, Kimberley was there for him when his injury ended his dreams of playing football at college. Kyle simply can’t imagine life without her. His life is, therefore, turned upside down when Kimberley abruptly announces on the night of their graduation party that they should break up. Before Kyle can assimilate this shocking news, the car they are in crashes. Kyle wakes to find he has a brain injury. Kimberley is dead but how can he rebuild his life without her? Does he even want to? As he begins to heal, Kyle doesn’t expect to discover the truth. Maybe the relationship he had been convinced was perfect wasn’t actually working. Perhaps he hadn’t understood his role in this. Slowly he begins to learn what true love his. It is only when he has learned this lesson that an unexpected turn of events throws his life back into turmoil.
Pitched as “a gripping new romance from the team that brought you New York Times bestseller Five Feet Apart”, I knew this was a book I had to read. (Five Feet Apart was one of my favourite reads of 2019 and I subsequently adored the movie). Sadly, I was a little disappointed. This second book – while perfectly readable – is simply not in the same class as the team’s debut novel.
I think there are two reasons for this. Five Feet Apart stood out because the reader immediately warms to both main characters (it’s written as a dual narrative) and doesn’t want to miss a second sharing their thoughts and feelings. In contrast, All This Time is written from just one character’s viewpoint – Kyle’s – and I never really warmed to him. I don’t think this is anything to do with the writing (which is just as strong as the previous novel) but is, instead, because Kyle does not feel anywhere near as believable as either Stella and Will in the previous book.
The plot also doesn’t quite match up to the authors’ debut novel. As before, the setting is largely confined to the hospital (and the immediate vicinity of Kyle’s home): this didn’t seem to matter in Five Feet Apart but it makes the plot feel quite slow in the first half of this second book. This, however, changes as the book progresses and the plot becomes impressively gripping.
Overall, this book does not have the magic of the first book which, in my mind, was the 2019 equivalent of the now classic ‘The Fault in Our Stars’. It is, however, a well-written novel that is worth reading and you might still need those tissues on standby when you get to the end.
If you enjoyed this and haven’t already read it, I’d strongly recommend you read Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott with Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Laconis.
Publication Date: September 2020
Publisher: Simon & Schuster