Lovin' los libros

A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

Review: The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik

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The Last Best Kiss
    by: Claire LaZebnik

Publication Date: April 22, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: e-ARC received via Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 320 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Anna Eliot is tired of worrying about what other people think. After all, that was how she lost the only guy she ever really liked, Finn Westbrook.

Now, three years after she broke his heart, the one who got away is back in her life.

All Anna wants is a chance to relive their last kiss again (and again and again). But Finn obviously hasn’t forgotten how she treated him, and he’s made it clear he has no interest in having anything to do with her.

Anna keeps trying to persuade herself that she doesn’t care about Finn either, but even though they’ve both changed since they first met, deep down she knows he’s the guy for her. Now if only she can get him to believe that, too....

With her signature wit and expertly authentic teen voice, Claire LaZebnik (the author of fan favorites Epic Fail and The Trouble with Flirting) once again breathes new life into a perennially popular love story. Fans of Polly Shulman, Maureen Johnson, and, of course, Jane Austen will love this irresistibly funny and romantic tale of first loves and second chances.

This was a cute read about learning from your mistakes and learning about who you are and what really matters in life. I definitely agree with the blurb above about Claire having an authentic teen voice, and I feel she did a commendable job of creating a realistic story about first loves, heartache, and learning from your mistakes and not being so quick to judge and dismiss because of the fear of what others will say.
Pacing: The pacing on this one was a bit off. I felt we got off to a really strong start, and then kind of went downhill towards the middle where things seemed a bit linear and boring, and then really went strong again toward the end. I just felt a bit of a disconnect in the middle of this novel, as things weren't really happening fast enough to move the initial plot forward.
Storyline: I really enjoyed the main storyline of seeing how Finn and Anna changed from when they knew each other freshman year to now. Things can change a lot in 3 years and they certainly have. Anna feels horribly for how she treated Finn and has never really gotten over that. Finn, on the other hand, has spent his time hating Anna (or trying to anyways.) She humiliated and hurt him and that's not something he can just easily let go of, even with her apologies. I did like that we got to see what happened between them initially, but it also made it hurt that much more seeing how they acted towards each other now, knowing they really had something special. I didn't realize how great of an impact Anna's family would have on this book. They play a pretty significant role, which I didn't expect. I expected the book to be more about Finn and Anna trying to mend fences and build bridges with one another, but we really don't get that until the last half of the book. I think that's what lost me. Sure, I expected some animosity on Finn's end when he returned, but I didn't expect him to shut her out as long as he did. I thought they would slowly incorporate themselves back into the others' lives and form a new relationship from there. Instead, Finn ends up giving a lot of his attention to Lily, a friend of Anna's. I haven't read Jane Austen's Persuasion, so I'm not really able to make comparisons between the two.
Characters: There are SO many characters in this novel, aside from Finn and Anna. You have Anna's sisters and her father, and a pretty large group of friends, as well as a few other characters thrown in also.
I'll start with Anna, as she's our MC. She's a sweet character and I really did like her, even though she made some bad choices at the beginning of the book concerning Finn. But you know what? I GET IT. I really do. I remember being in a similar social situation as Anna my 8th grade year. It was very hard to finally say, you know what? Eff it. I'm going to hang with who I want and I don't really care what anyone thinks of me. At 15, insecurities run high and Anna didn't want to hurt Finn, but she was so undecided as to what she should do. She knew if her relationship with Finn came out in the open her friends would make fun of her and she was too afraid of the fallout that might come after. Face it. Being a teenager is PETTY. She hated hurting him and has carried that guilt to this day. He completely surprised her and she found herself enjoying hearing his random facts and seeing his pictures he'd pull up on his phone. Now, she's caught because she still cares about him, but he won't give her a second glance.
Finn was a great character. I was a little angry at him for not giving Anna a second chance right away, but he was hurt and I get that. He returns looking completely different. Instead of his bulky glasses he has contacts and he is taller, leaner, and more athletic looking. Simply put: he's pretty hot! Even though Anna sees this, she isn't superficial about it. She doesn't pine over him because he's cute now, she genuinely misses the way this sweet boy made her feel and the excitement he would have to show her things. He was a bit harder to read, as he doesn't wear his feelings on the heart of his sleeve. He's pretty into Anna's friend Lily, who marches to the beat of her own drum and is unique and exotic in her own way. He is drawn to that in the beginning, liking that, here was a girl who did what she wanted and didn't care what others thought of her.
I didn't really like Lily to be honest. She seemed too over the top for me. It was more of a cry for attention, than it was she was an actual individual. Her twin sister, Hilary, is a bit more subdued and is also crushing on Finn pretty hardcore.
Lucy, Anna's best friend, was sweet and made me laugh at how obsessive she was about her grades and school work. I like her dedication but there were some points where I was like, girl. Loosen up! Oscar was also a lot of fun. I felt for him, as he always seemed to be feel like the odd man out because he's into guys. Still, he provided some good comedic relief.
Anna's family gets the award for most dysfunctional. Neither of their parents really wanted to be parents, so their mom let their dad have full custody of the girls, only seeing them occasionally. Anna's dad doesn't really click with Anna or her oldest sister Molly, but instead focuses his attention on Lizzie, the middle daughter. Lizzie is a bit stuck up and I didn't really care much for her at all. She's very self-involved. Molly, is the exact opposite. Her and Anna are close and I liked seeing the two be there for another during some hard times. I didn't like Anna's dad at all. He pretty much ignores her except for when he needs her to be present for a function. I hated how he acted around Ginny, Lizzie's friend, and now an assistant volleyball coach at Anna's school. That was one really messed up relationship (if you can even call it that).
Final Thoughts: Overall, I enjoyed this one. It was a cute read, despite the lull in plot I felt towards the middle of the book. This book really does a great job of showing how different Anna's life is like without Finn in it and how she regrets letting him become the one that got away.

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  1. This sounds like a sweet read and a cute one. And I think I would get Anna too! I mean, I am sure we have all done things we are not proud of in HS because of what others thought, so that really makes for a great storyline. Great review Jessica!

    1. Right? I think that's why I liked it so much because I honestly felt I could relate. I remember doing things and regretting them too. It's life man. Haha.

  2. Oh, glad you enjoyed this one since I need to read it soon. I do like a cute read every now and then.

    1. I hope you like it Vi! It was good except for the pacing of it.


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