Thursday, August 21, 2014

ARC Review: The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik

Publisher: Harper Teen
Publishing Date: April 22nd, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 374 pgs
ISBN: 9780062252289
Source: Received from publisher for an honest review

Summary from Goodreads:
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.

My Review: 

This review is long overdue. I received this as an ARC from Harper Collins Canada quite a while ago. My life was a bit of a mess for a while but now I'm back on track and I'm getting caught up on reading and reviews. This book came out in April of this year and I had never read anything by this author. It's marketed as a re-telling of Jane Austin's Persuasion but I have to admit to not having read this before. That being said, I don't think that takes away from this story. This is the story of Anna, a high school girl who is trying to find a way to be comfortable in her own skin. It opens in the 9th grade when she meets a cute but nerdy boy, Finn. The two begin dating but secretly because she is concerned about her cool factor with her friends. This leads to an awkward encounter at a school dance and as a result the two part ways. (This all happens in the first few pages so no spoilers here.) Jump to Anna's senior year and Finn returns after his almost 3 year hiatus. Not only does he return but he is cuter and geeky in an intriguing way. If being back at Anna's school isn't enough he is also now hanging out with her group of friends.
The story is super cute but isn't just all fluff like some contemporaries can be. I have to say that you get a really well rounded view of Anna through her narration as well as through the depiction of her relationships with her best friend, her group of friends and her family. This is one thing that I think LaZebnik does really well; she is able to write a great cast of characters. Each character is interesting in their own way and I feel like I got to know Anna a little better because of this.
My one gripe would be that I kept mixing up her two friends. One is named Lucy and the other is named Lily. The names were too closely related for me and I found myself having to look back again and again to figure out if it was Lucy, Anna's bff, or Lily, one of the twins.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was just what I needed as the summer draws to an end. It's a story about self discovery and becoming comfortable with who you are without worry about judgement. I think this is something that a lot women, regardless of age, can relate to. It's a constant struggle to be yourself and to not worry about what others think (at least for me). I think this is why I could relate to Anna and also to Finn.
Let's talk about the romance for a minute. This book takes a while for the romance to start and usually this drives me nuts. I think there was enough going on in the book that it made it okay. I think that some books focus solely on the romance to the exclusion of other personal relationships and this is not the case in this story. The tension between Anna and Finn is just too cute. I loved Finn! He was sweet and nerdy and who doesn't like that? Especially book geeks.
This book is well written and I will be definitely be finding more novels by her. If you want a fun contemporary with great main characters and even brighter secondary characters then this is the book for you. 

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