|First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Publish Date: May 8, 2012
Like his name, Gray is dark and stormy. Dylan, a girl always searching for what’s next, seemingly unable to settle down, is the exact opposite: full of light and life. On the outside, they seem like an unlikely couple. But looks can be deceiving and besides, opposites attract.
What starts as friendship, turns into admiration, respect and caring, until finally these two lone souls find they are truly in love with each other.
But staying in love is not as easy as falling in love. If Dylan and Gray want their love to last, they’re going to have to work at it. And learn that sometimes love means having to say you’re sorry. -(summary from Goodreads.com)
First Comes Love
by Katie Kacvinsky
My Thoughts: Despite being Katie Kacvinsky’s sophomore novel, First Comes Love is my first time reading her work. Simply put, I loved it. I want to take a few minutes to tell you why.
1. The Characters: Dylan & Gray. Two very strong characters written with extremely strong voices. Opposites, it seems, but they work so well together. I adored them and felt connected right away, although I did connect more with Gray than I did with Dylan. Not a large supporting cast, as it was not needed. There are a few extra characters included, but this story revolves around Gray and Dylan so this is where the development takes place.
- Gray. Can’t believe he’s falling for Dylan. She dresses weird and is perpetually perky. She doesn’t really worry about what other people think of her and she is always kind. Gray just wants to blend into the crowd and go unnoticed, especially after what happened to his family in the recent past. He can’t deny that he is more than a bit annoyed with his feelings for Dylan.
- Dylan. In Phoenix for the summer, taking photography classes and staying at her aunt’s massive mansion. She’s noticed the quiet boy that keeps to himself and tries to hide by pulling his hat down over his dark, always expressionless eyes. He intrigues her. When Dylan decides to make a friend, she chooses Gray and he seems powerless to avoid her friendship-seeking advances.
Gray begrudgingly humors Dylan’s attempts at friendship at first, but soon he begins to fall for her. Right away we can see that Dylan is an open book, willing to be a friend and to make a relationship We also see right away that Gray is extremely guarded and a little bitter about life–we just don’t know why. Dylan can see it too, but she never pushes him to talk before he is ready, and the friendship/relationship intensifies.
2. The Romance. As these two very strong characters begin to expose themselves to each other, their strengths allow the two to show their weakness, which in turn makes them both stronger. Their relationship becomes powerful and very realistic. Their development as a couple and also as individuals is remarkable, and this was my favorite part of this amazing book because it is so true to how life can be.
3. The Setting. Set in the west, particularly Arizona and California, the setting was instrumental to the development of the story and this couple. The author used fantastic description of the areas surrounding Phoenix when the two took their day-trips. I love how she even interjected comments about the heat. Not only that, but there was talk of the animals, the vegetation, and the native landscape. I have never been to this part of the United States, and I am largely unfamiliar with the area except for what I’ve seen on TV or read about, but I feel a little more in tune with this setting after reading First Comes Love–and that is awesome.
It is no accident that this area was important to Dylan, as she came to stay there for the summer. It’s inclusion into the story and it’s importance should make a big difference to the reader as it helps to set up the backdrop for the start of this relationship between Dylan and Gray…because the area is a part of who Gray is.
4. The Structure. Written in alternating points-of-view (POV) with awesomely clever chapter titles.
- Alternating POV. I love this type of structure because it always – when done well – gives an expanded perspective on any event going on in the story at any given time. In this case, the alternating POV was executed brilliantly and I felt a no-holds-barred approach to what both Dylan and Gray were thinking about pretty much every step of their relationship…all of the ‘Firsts’ and everything in between. I felt both joy and pain, sometimes gut-wrenching, and this was achieved by seeing two perspectives on the same event or topic. Wonderfully executed.
- Clever chapter titles. The chapter titles are nice shout-outs to the great ‘Firsts’ in the relationship of Dylan and Gray. For example: First Meet. First Challenge. First Listen. I loved this. Seeing the name of the chapter meant something sort of new was coming up, but I didn’t really know what it would be until I got into the chapter. Sometimes it was happy and sometimes it wasn’t. But it was a clever way of marking the ‘Firsts’ and I’ve not seen it done that way before. (Nice job, Katie Kacvinsky!)
5. The Cover. I have never before been a fan of kissy-covers. I have always been turned-off by them. But in this case, THIS COVER grabbed me for some reason. In fact, I wanted to read this book initially based on the cover. I was so shocked with myself by this admission…until I started reading the book. The couple on the cover is involved in a very intimate act. While I normally find that off-putting, it completely embodies this book, 100%. This book is about the development of a deep relationship, and I believe that is depicted well by this picture. It just fits this book really, really well.
6. The Ending. Every emotion, just like a roller coaster. Really, though, it was just perfect.
I realize that this is an extremely early review and I worry that people will forget about my thoughts before the books release date, but I want you to know that I read First Comes Love and I loved it and I want everyone to put it on their wish list as soon as possible. What we have in First Comes Love is a story of two young people that meet in an unlikely and odd situation, fall in love, build a relationship, and fight to keep it going. That is real life, folks, and I loved that. It wasn’t always pretty and there were some things that came up along the way that had to be confronted. But Dylan and Gray did it together and it made for excellent contemporary YA literature.
In First Comes Love, we hear from both characters pretty much equally, but I felt like I made more of a connection with Gray’s character. Why? Perhaps it is because I learned more about him:
his private life before Dylan came along, the tragic heartache he was dealt, and the resulting brokenness of his family and his loss of self.
His family still grieves in unhealthy ways and it is tragic; Gray doesn’t know how to cope, so he becomes a loner, pulls his hat over his eyes and acts like he doesn’t care about anything. Then along comes Dylan – a constant ray of sunshine no matter what, pushing happiness on him even when he rejects it, and it totally changes his life. In addition, Gray has made some choices that have led him exactly to his current position – stuck at home and unhappy, with feelings of extreme guilt and responsibility. Gray has no regrets in this regard, but he does occasionally think of what his future might have been like had things been different. Through all of Gray’s inner thoughts and dialogues, it is so very easy to become emotionally attached to him in a way that is much more intense than with Dylan, and this is how I felt when I was reading. Don’t get me wrong…Dylan is wonderful and has some incredibly strong points too…but Gray is written superbly.
Friends, First Comes Love is one book that you will want to make sure to add to your wish list. It is a contemporary YA romance, so it is a must-read if you love that genre (which is new for me). I would say that this book is intended for the older YA and adult YA-loving audiences, however. There are a few scenes and some language that I would consider a little too graphic for the younger YA readers.
First Comes Love will appeal to fans of:
Male and/or Alternating point-of-view
Very well-developed characters
Slowly developing romance
(aka New Adult)
Books that are heavy on Setting: this one is the American West
First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky will be released on May 8, 2012.
*I borrowed this book as part of Around The World Book Tours in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions. I received no compensation for my review.