Monday, April 21, 2014

REVIEW: "The Last Best Kiss" by Claire LaZebnik

The Last Best Kiss
The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik
For Ages 13+ (Language, Drug Use, Sexual References)
Young Adult -- Contemporary

Harper Teen -- April 22, 2014
Ebook, 320 pages
Received from Edelweiss

THEMES
Beta Hero, Love Triangle, Austen Retelling

SUMMARY
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....


FIRST LINE
"On nights when I'm honest with myself, I can admit that Finn Westbrook was the best thing about my ninth-grade year."

MY THOUGHTS
Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis knows that Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel.  There is just something about the slow reveal of the main characters' previous relationship and the rediscovery of their feelings that always connected with me.  I also enjoy creative retellings (especially of Austen stories), but, unfortunately, there just aren't as many contemporary versions of Persuasion.  That is why I was so excited to read this book specially after reading (and enjoying) Claire LaZebni's Epic Fail, a wonderful Pride and Prejudice retelling.

The Last Best Kiss starts out during Anna Eliot and Finn Westbrook's freshman year when they meet during a carpool trip.  They quickly bond over their interest in nature photography and music, but their relationship comes to a halt when Anna unknowingly breaks Finn's heart.  Finn's family moves away shortly after and they don't see each other for another three years until they are reunited during their senior year in high school and all that drama comes back into their lives.

Both Anna and Finn were relatable and fairly likable characters.  Neither was completely blameless for the demise of their previous relationship and I thought they acted fairly typical for teenagers.  I really liked how Anna's maturity developed from the beginning to the end.  She learned how to value true friendship over social standing.  It was also interesting see how Finn transformed and figured out that even though Anna is not as impulsive as he would like, but she is still a genuine and caring person.  The development of their new relationship from dislike to friendship and then farther was easy to see and entertaining.

I loved the way that the author updated this classic romance and set it modern-day California.  The obsession with social status and appearance is very common in high school and Regency-era England.  And the external issues that Anna and Finn have to deal with are reminiscent of the problems that Anne Eliot and Captain Wentworth faced in Persuasion.  I especially enjoyed the depiction of side characters Lily and Hillary (Louisa and Henrietta Musgrove) and the way that the music festival represented the trip to the fashionable city of Bath.

All in all, I liked this modern-day retelling of my favorite Jane Austen novel.  Some of the side characters got on my nerves at times, but in the same way that their Persuasion counterparts did.  I think it could be enjoyable for anyone who is a fan of Jane Austen's writing or who isn't.  I definitely hope that Claire LaZebnik continues writing Austen retellings.

I received a free copy of this book from Harper Teen via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


4 STARS

STEAM LEVEL
Blush -- Kisses with no/minor touching.

FAVORITE QUOTES
"Just an act.  When I was around you, it was work to remember that I hated you.  I tried to hold on to the image of you as this spoiled, self-satisfied crowd-follower, but all I ever saw was this sweet, cute girl who still made me want to slay dragons just to get her attention.  Or save her from mad dogs, at least."

CHALLENGES READ FOR 

 

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if my comment went though, so I'm trying agin. I haven't read Austen's Persuasion. I've always been a bit nervous to read it, so I've never read any retelling of it (I only know of two - this one, and For Darkness Shows the Stars). Have you read her other Austen retelling? I think it's called The Trouble with Flirting. I haven't, but I've heard good things.

    I'm glad you liked this one, Jennifer.

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