Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review: The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik

Title: The Last Best Kiss
Author: Claire LaZebnik
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publish Date: April 22nd, 2014

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.

The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik is an utterly adorable contemporary take on Jane Austen's Persuasion. I've never read Persuasion—I keep falling asleep right in the beginning!—but this seems like a great retelling. It's fun, fast-paced, and makes its point about not letting others dictate your life and who you're allowed to like.

Anna Eliot is such a likable character which you wouldn't think she would be based on how she treats Finn in the beginning. She's embarrassed to admit she likes him and would rather hurt his feeling then risk not fitting in. But she's so forthright about it all that it's hard not to like her. She admits when she's wrong, for the most part (something few YA heroines seem to do). She cares about her friends and doesn't judge their choices even when she's worried they'll judge hers. She's an all around good person—with the occasional flaw of course—and that made her so enjoyable to read about.

Finn was pretty great himself. His excitement about something as simple as a picture of a flower or an animal or the stars was so incredible to read about. A lot of times romantic novels are just about romance. The characters seem to get caught up in this idea of love and flirting and completely lose any and all personality traits that aren't smooth or suave. But Finn babbles like a little kid when he discovers something new and interesting. And he's so supportive of Anna's paintings (which are totally cool, by the way, and I want one!). He's that nice guy that isn't too nice but just nice enough to be perfect. Although, I'll admit, he had his moments.

Anna's family is all sorts of dysfunctional. Her mom, who's really only mentioned pretty briefly, is possibly terrible. Her sister's are both older and away and a little emotionally stunted when it comes to familial bonds. And her dad is self centered to the point where it's sort of amusing. To be honest, I actually like Anna's dad. A lot. I think he's pretty adorable. He's not mean or terrible just because he can be. It's like he legitimately doesn't see how the things he does, or doesn't do more likely, effect Anna. That's not to say he's a good parent, he's not, but he is a parent. He doesn't want to get to know Anna not because he doesn't care, but because he doesn't realize he needs to. She doesn't find the same things interesting as he does. Not like Lizzie does. Lizzie and her dad are like the cutest BFF's ever. I appreciate their relationship, maybe more than I should, but still. I think they're cute. Their dad rarely mentions his older daughter Molly, but he cares about her the same as he cares about his younger daughters. He's not emotionally there for any of them, but he's physically there and that's more then their mother ever gave them.

I don't quite get the cover. It has nothing at all to do with the story aside from the kissing. But, whatever, I guess. It's cute and colorful and works. It just holds no meaning other than that it's a very contemporary cover. Not sure why this, of all things, bothered me, but it did a little. I enjoy a cover that means something to the story. The cover's really not important though, what's important is the amazingly sweet story inside.

If you're a fan of contemporary, an Austen lover, or a fan of LaZebnik herself, you're going to want to pick up The Last Best Kiss for your collection. It'll keep you up all night reading. Trust me, I know from experience!

Find out more about The Last Best Kiss at these sites!


  1. Lovely review. I thought this was a pretty cute Persuasion retelling. Anna and Finn were adorable. Some of the things that happened didn't really translate well in the modern setting, but I was willing to overlook that. Persuasion is a pretty short book, you should pick it up sometime when you're not tired! You might really enjoy it. Or maybe watch the movies instead?

  2. Awesome review Jesse! I've had LaZebnik's EPIC FAIL on my TBR forever and can't believe I haven't read it yet. It's cool that she's written another Jane Austen inspired tale. Can I just mention how much I love the name Finn? And therefore will probably love this book ;) Persuasion's not my favorite Austen story but it's still worth reading/watching if you get the chance.

    Amanda @ Born Bookish

  3. Oh how did I not known about this book?! This sounds like one I would really enjoy. I too haven't read Jane Austen's book but I always love retellings and this one sounds like a good one! Finn sounds amazing. I love characters like that who have excitement over such the simplest things. It's refreshing in some ways that they can appreciate something as simple as a flower when other may not see it the same. Gosh I really have to get this one soon! Great review Jesse! :)


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