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I Belong


Review: My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal

My Last KissTitle: My Last Kiss

Author: Bethany Neal

Genre: YA Mystery

Series: N/A

Publication Date: June 10, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 358 Pages

ISBN-10: 0374351287 (MacTeenBooks)

ISBN-13: 978-0374351281 (MacTeenBooks)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin

Synopsis:

Bethany Neal’s suspenseful debut novel is about the power of first love and the haunting lies that threaten to tear it apart. 

What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy? 

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. 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.

Quick & Dirty: This novel was extremely hard for me to get into, but the last third of the book knocked the review up a star. The last third was full of action, suspense, and soul searching. The rest felt bland.

Opening Sentence: “How old were you when you had yours?”

ExcerptYes

The Review:

Cassidy is dead. And she doesn’t remember how. She seems to be a ghost, hovering around friends and family, invisible to everyone but her boyfriend. She needs to discover how she died, because unlike the police she knows she didn’t throw herself off a bridge when drunk at her birthday party. As the story unfolds so does Cassidy’s memories. And it seems like maybe, maybe, her boyfriend Ethan wasn’t her last kiss after all.

As moderate to amazing reviews for My Last Kiss began to roll in, I got excited. Just a week before I had received it to review! Suddenly I found myself free with nothing on the schedule. Birds were chirping, palm trees swaying, beautiful California weather — the perfect reading time. I started My Last Kiss with high expectations, but unfortunately, was disappointed. I couldn’t get into the story to save my life. I would grit my teeth when I knew I had to sit down and read. The writing style wasn’t bad in the slightest, and the plot was unique. I simply could not find a reason to continue, and wasn’t hooked enough in the first chapters. I got confused easily and thought the main character was a tad bit annoying. I thought my experience reading this novel was doomed for sure, but luckily enough it was not —- the last third of the book I really enjoyed. The last hundred pages there was many realizations, lots of action, lots of soul searching, and overall what I expected from the book as a whole. The conclusion was well-written and described with an intriguing twist. I appreciated the main character and the story more. Basically, the last third knocked up the review a star. Since it was so hard to get to the last third, I only gave three stars, especially because I considered not finishing a couple times. (I haven’t ever not finished a review book even if I hated it. I hope I never have to!)

The main character, Cassidy, is going through a tough enough time before she supposedly commits suicide. Her mother moved out and family problems are flooding in. Of course, it doesn’t help that she’s kissing someone who isn’t her boyfriend in her spare time. Cassidy knows it is wrong and tries to stop herself, but it’s only at the very end of the book that she finally forces herself to choose one of them. This is probably the reason she irritated me every so often. I wanted her to figure out what she could on her own, set her moral compass right. However most of the book switches from after she died in her ghostly glory and her downward spiral beforehand. I was extremely pleased when she made up her mind and set things right, and chose one of them, even if it was at the very end.

The two boys are Ethan and Caleb, the first being her boyfriend, the second her old friend she just happens to be kissing before dying. I was very intensely team Ethan. I have already said I don’t approve of her cheating, even if he “understands” her family troubles. Caleb is not her boyfriend — end of story. It would be fine if she chose one of them without the cheating going on so long, but uch! Cassidy! Get it together and figure it out, it had been three weeks. And she dies around week four. Ethan was adorable and understanding and she is horrible to him part of the time.

My Last Kiss had a rocky start for me. I was annoyed by basically everything. In the last third I started to enjoy it and appreciate the unique plotline and intricate puzzle pieces of the mystery.  The ending is surprising and is resolved cleanly without confusion.  Obviously though I am the black sheep for this one, as many enjoyed My Last Kiss, so even though I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, other reviewers would. I will say that those who like a good murder mystery and don’t mind some ghostly action mixed in will enjoy this novel.

Notable Scene:

He’s crying or maybe he’s yelling; either way, I can see his breath.

I’m not breathing. I don’t need to. The words float past my lips like a rehearsed chorus: “I’m dead.”

skull3

FTC Advisory: Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan provided me with a copy of My Last Kiss. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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