Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto

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This book made me crave for immortality and baked eggs. However, my disinterest in history and preference for simple plots had me lost in the complexity of Max’s multiple timelines (apparently inspired by the 10th Doctor Who). Shelley, the female protagonist, is dead set in finding the reason behind her dead husband’s sighting in an island in the Philippines. She has a companion on this trip to find him; Paolo, the grandchild of her husband, but is the same age as Max when he showed up at her front door. Problematic plot? Very. The only goal I had in reading more of it is to see how satisfied I’ll be with the ending. Most fantastical premises are hard to close, and I was honestly underwhelmed by the finale. It doesn’t, however, take away the fact I do like Max & Shelley’s chemistry with each other and with the minor characters in the tour group. I like how author and fellow Pinay Samantha Sotto’s backpacking adventures in real life made the histories rich in detail that made the novel seem like a guide book across the outskirts of Europe. Those with short attention spans though should be patient in digesting all of the information and tidbits every timeline has to explain.

I found it a hard read. I had to stop every chapter because my mind had to process the connections and details of all the sets of characters have with each other. For romantics looking for an easy, cathartic read, this novel might not be for you. But if you have time to swim around the sea of data given to you, you might find this a dramatic, satisfying journey after the complicated detours a love for Max has to go through, a hard bargain that will inevitably cost lives.