Publishing Info: April 22, 2014 by HarperCollins
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 26, 2014
Related Posts: The Trouble with Flirting
THE LAST BEST KISS is my second time reading Claire LaZebnik and THE TROUBLE WITH FLIRTING, the first work of hers that I had picked up, turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. I love that she adapts Jane Austen novels into modern-day romances but really for someone like me (a non-classic reader! I have read ZERO Austen), that really wasn’t the appeal at all since obviously I had no comparison to go off of. My desire to read THE LAST BEST KISS came strictly from how much I loved THE TROUBLE WITH FLIRTING. I fell in love with the characters, the humor, and the romance so I was eager to pick up another one of LaZebnik’s books. Unfortunately, that was where I dug my own grave.
Now don’t get me wrong — I didn’t hate THE LAST BEST KISS, but my enjoyment of it was nowhere near the level I had with THE TROUBLE WITH FLIRTING and maybe that’s not fair of me to judge in that way, but I expected the books to have similar aspects and similar voices since they were from the same author and generally the same concept. Then again, I don’t know the two original classics upon which these two books are based, so I didn’t know what the original tone of those books were either. It’s just a very complicated mess in my mind!
Anyway, these two books were very different. THE LAST BEST KISS was much more serious than I had anticipated and I don’t mind a serious contemporary romance, but it wasn’t entirely in the way I usually enjoy. You see, the story is that Anna and Finn used to date. In secret, that is. It wasn’t a secret for Finn, but it was for Anna. She was afraid of what her friends would think that she wasn’t dating someone who was popular or was inherently attractive and so she hid Finn from her friends, made up excuses not to hang out with him in public, and eventually when Finn caught on, he broke up with her, Anna left in the dust entirely surprised and confused. My issue with this is that I really liked young Finn. I related to him a lot more than I related to Anna (although I do understand wanting to be “cool” or at least not wanting to look uncool around your peers), but it made me feel like Anna was the bad guy. As much as I ultimately wanted them to get back together, a piece of me always was against it because I felt like Anna didn’t deserve him. It was just really hard for me to get in her corner when I felt like she hurt Finn so badly.
Another thing that threw me was Anna’s family. They’re not entirely a traditional family with Anna and her two sisters living with her father and her mother practically not existing in their lives. Anna doesn’t really connect with her father like her older sister Lizzie does but her eldest sister Molly is a lot more like Anna… except that Molly is away at college. Anna doesn’t really have anyone to turn to at home, and she barely communicates with her dad seeing as he’s wrapped up in his work or just doesn’t have anything in common with her. One of the things that I struggled with in this family dynamic was the emphasis on the fancy things and status. Both Anna’s father and her sister Lizzie are people who appreciate the “finer things in life” — they enjoy the nice clothes, the expensive restaurants, and the fancy art — designer tastes, if you will. While I have no issues with those things in general or the people who like them, I’m just not a fancy person and those sorts of things just don’t really appeal to me, especially when they cause a rift in between friends or family.
I also really, really struggled with Anna’s friends. I don’t know if they were supposed to correlation to characters who were actually in Persuasion, but if felt like a very large cast of friends and some of the names were so similar that I couldn’t keep track of which was which. Lucy, Lily, Hilary, Pheobe, PLUS all the guy friends — and this was a group that hung out all the time so there was a group of at least seven or eight people to constantly keep track of. I’m not usually so troubled by a large cast of characters but I felt like the friends very much dominated the spotlight in this book. I spent too much time trying to figure out who was Lucy and who was Lily and which two girls were the twins and which twin was which. Since Anna doesn’t have a lot of love for her home life, she hangs out with her friends, which was fine… But I felt like I barely got to know Anna and her friends really stole the show — both with how much they were featured and how strong their personalities were.
By now you’re probably like, “Well, what DID you like about this book, Brittany?” I guess looking back… I was disappointed with a lot. The one aspect of the book I really did love was Finn. I loved his character for so many reasons. Firstly, he wasn’t afraid to be himself. Both in the beginning of the story when we first meet him as a younger Finn and once he returns to town as a more mature person. I liked that he didn’t rush back to Anna and forgive her right away. I liked that as I read, I realized IF he decided to forgive Anna for how she treated him, things may never be the same again. He felt like the one real character in a sea of caricatures.
As you can see, it wasn’t just my leftover expectations from THE TROUBLE WITH FLIRTING. Regardless, I would have had issues with this book even if I hadn’t been so impressed with the first LaZebnik book I had picked up. I’m not saying it was a bad book by any means, but there were so many elements that I just generally don’t connect with that added up to a lot of disappointing things. I think there’s a different audience out there who will enjoy this book, but it just wasn’t the one for me.
Anna // Character Obsessions: Finn, friends, having fun, painting, drawing.
I feel like I never really got to know that much about Anna. She truly liked Finn but then let her friends decide for her not to date him anymore without even talking to her friends about him. Then the rest of the book really feels like she just goes along with what her friends do too. I just felt like her large group of friends really got in the way and I didn’t get to know her character much at all.
Finn // Character Obsessions: Facts, science, photos, school.
I loved Finn. I just love the nerdy guy. Even when he wasn’t attractive, although when he came back looking all grown up, obviously kudos to him! I liked that he always seemed sincere and he always seemed true to himself, well, with some minor deviations. I almost wish I had gotten to see his POV in the book since he was the most likable character for me!
Kept Me Hooked On: Nerdy guys. I loved Finn’s aptitude for science, facts, and showing Anna interesting photos. I always think it’s interesting what the “nerdy” characters have to offer because they have a sincerity that I don’t get from other characters as well as expanding my horizons to new ideas or new facts.
Left Me Wanting More: Character from Anna. Anna’s friends walked all over her life without them even knowing when she and Finn broke up early on in the book. I felt like she continued to let how she thought they MIGHT feel dominate what she actually wanted out of life. She spend so much time worrying about what her friends thought or what Finn might think of her or what the college admissions people wanted to see… She almost never just did what she wanted or what she felt was right.
Unless you see things you know you’ll enjoy or have the opposite taste that I do in contemporary (you know who you are *wink wink*), then I say this one isn’t really worth the time. If we have similar tastes, I’d say this one may frustrate you as well.
(Click the cover to see my review!)