My Last Kiss – Bethany Neal

My Last Kiss – Bethany NealTitle: My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal
Publishing Info: June 10, 2014 by Macmillan
Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 27, 2014

    What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy?In Bethany Neal's My Last Kiss, Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss—the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died—is a blur. Now, Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn’t a suicide as everyone assumes. She can’t remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she’s worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend. If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she’ll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made—good and bad—that led to her last kiss.

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The first thing I need to say about MY LAST KISS was how much I loved the sort of mix of genres here. The story is about seventeen-year-old Cassidy — who we only meet after her untimely death — and the events that occur amongst her friends and family after she’s gone. The book definitely has a sort of a paranormal feel with the post-mortem point of view, but also a contemporary feel as we see how life continues on in the aftermath of Cassidy’s death. Of course one of my favorite parts is that there’s also a bit of mystery — there’s a lot of suspicion surrounding how Cassidy really died and she’s also back wandering the earth in order to solve that mystery and hopefully that will lay her soul to rest, so to speak. Very Ghost meets Before I Fall, if you will.

At first, I was a bit nervous to read the book. I have to confess. I don’t do well with books that involve cheating because that’s a big turn-off for me, so knowing that one of the main points of the book was that Cassidy’s last kiss before her death was not with her boyfriend had me wary. True, sometimes Cassidy wasn’t exactly my favorite person because of her choices, but I liked that the book was all about setting things right — as much as she could — and realizing the wrongs of her life and how they affected the people she loved. As much as I don’t condone cheating, I could understand how Cassidy ended up forming a close relationship with Caleb and how he would really be able to understand her and connect with her in a way that Ethan wasn’t. I’m not saying that was the right thing to do, but the good thing is that Cassidy gets to relive some of her choices and try to make amends the best that she can, knowing that she didn’t exactly make the best decisions when she was alive.

One thing I really loved about the book was how vivid the setting was. I really felt like I could picture everything that was going on, the places Cassidy ended up, and the little details of each location. So many of the situations felt real as well and reminded me of my own high school experience. I think more than the friends, the families of the characters really brought a deeper feeling and sense of familiarity to the book. The scenes with how each family was coping and how each of Cassidy’s friends were handling her death felt the most genuine and I really felt like I was peeking into their worlds. Some of the friends themselves came off a bit stereotypical at times, but those insights to how they were interacting with their families really made them seem more real. I’m not sure why but I just don’t connect to party scenes in YA books —  maybe because that wasn’t really an experience that I had in high school?  — so those scenes with deeper personal connections were especially important.

The mystery was really interesting and even as the book was wrapping up and I thought I knew what was going on, I really didn’t. I’m not sure how I was hoping it to end, but I was definitely surprised and it was a really interesting twist to the story. The best part of the book, for me though, was the connection I made with the characters and many of them were characters I hadn’t expected to make such a close connection to.

MY LAST KISS was definitely interesting and a bit different from what I originally expected! I loved the way the genres faded from contemporary to mystery with a dash of paranormal. I think there’s a little bit of everything for a wide variety of readers to enjoy!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Cassidy // Character Obsessions: Secrets, her death, Ethan, coming clean.
It’s odd for me to have some issues with a main character and still enjoy the book, but I think this totally worked for me because the mistakes had already been made and Cassidy was working on coming clean and correcting them. She definitely grew on me as the book went on and I really felt sad for her that she couldn’t have made all these changes while she was still alive.
Ethan // Character Obsessions: Family, friends, Cassidy.
I loved Ethan from the start. I really wanted everything to work out for him and protect him from all of the terrible things that were going on around him. He seemed like such a genuinely nice person and he was one of the characters I really felt for the most.
Caleb // Character Obsessions: Drugs, staying out of people’s way, Cassidy.
I don’t know if anyone is more surprised than me that I liked Caleb so much. He’s the sort of “other man” but he had also been Cassidy’s friend for a really long time and they used to be best friends back in middle school/junior high. I guess he just really reminded me of the friendship that I used to have with one of my male best friends growing up so I really actually connected with him a lot and hoped he could work out all his inner demons. He didn’t make the best choices either, but I really wanted him to be able to pull through where Cassidy hadn’t.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mysteries. Yay, another YA mystery! I hope to see many more YA mystery/thrillers coming out soon because I feel like they just hadn’t been on the market for a long time. Maybe now that the dystopian trend is sort of winding down, mystery/thrillers can take its place 😀
Left Me Wanting More: Character development? There’s a question mark there because I really did connect to the characters a lot, but mostly in their family settings or in small groups. The party scenes, big group scenes… I don’t know, I guess that really is how teens act in big groups — people showing off, getting a little crazy — but that doesn’t really appeal to me when reading. Maybe a personal preference? I can’t quite tell.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was a really great read for me and I loved how everything really worked together and combined well. I really can’t wait for more from Bethany Neal!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE MY LAST KISS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

       Before I Fall     If I Stay

7 thoughts on “My Last Kiss – Bethany Neal

  1. Terri @ Starlight Book Reviews

    I love the “View from GoodReads” section! That’s so fun and I haven’t seen anyone do that. I tend to use my status updates when I’m writing reviews as guides for what I thought was important enough to comment on, but I like what you did here. 🙂

    Funnily enough, I didn’t enjoy this book as much. I found Cassidy’s character was difficult to like, because like you said, she cheated. I think more than that, it was that she spent so much time lying about it, and all we got to see through the flashbacks was the lies upon lies that went right up to her death. I understood that she was struggling, and that her somewhat bratty behavior could be construed as normal for a teenager going through her parents’ divorce, but she just never grabbed me.

    I think the other issue was that she was definitely DEAD. She wasn’t going to get a happy ending. She might find out the truth and she might earn Ethan’s forgiveness, but then she was going to fade away. She didn’t get to become a better person and make better choices.

    I do agree with you that the twists were well done. I was constantly questioning who the murderer was, if it was a murder or an accident, and whether Ethan had a hand in it since he knew more than he was telling. Neal set up a lot of characters with motive and secrets, which definitely kept my interest!

  2. Emily @ Books & Cleverness

    So glad to hear that you enjoyed this one! I’ve been so excited to read this since I first read the synopsis and before it even had a cover. Great review – You’ve got me in the mood to run out and buy it right now! 🙂

  3. Erin @

    I loved both Before I Fall and If I Stay, so I have a feeling I’m going to love this book. Thanks for the review; it looks interesting!

  4. Rebecca @ The Library Canary

    This one sounds really good and I’ve heard pretty good things about it! I’m glad to hear that the mc gets to go on a bit of a journey to right her wrongs and is able to learn and grow. Can’t wait to see how the whole thing plays out!

  5. Pam@YA Escape from Reality

    I keep reading mixed reviews for this one so I’m still on the fence! I still haven’t read Before I Fall, even though I love Lauren Oliver. That whole she’s already dead thing just sounds so depressing because no matter what…she’s dead and that’s no fun. I’ll have to think about it, but I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  6. Nicole @ The Quiet Concert

    Your two recommendations are both books I really enjoyed, and from the sounds of this one I think I’ll like it. I like the idea of making amends and the bit of mystery surrounding her death. I don’t know if this is a must read for me (until i’m in the right mood per say), but I’ll definitely keep it on the TBR!

  7. Alexa S.

    I’m glad that My Last Kiss left a favorable impression on you overall! I did like some things about it, but overall, it’s probably not my favorite YA mystery. I definitely wanted more, especially when it came to characters. But I’ll have to agree that the combination of genres was pretty cool!

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