Review: The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik

Title: The Last Best Kiss
Author: Claire LaZebnik
Rating: ★★★

The Last Best Kiss is not my usual type of novel. I went through high school, I dealt with high school drama, and it’s just not my favorite thing to read about. I gave The Last Best Kiss a change, though, because I felt like LaZebnik had the potential to write a novel with a lot of character growth. In the end, I liked the novel and found the character growth to be really well done.

Anna first meets Finn in 9th grade, when Finn is part of her carpool. He’s the nerdy boy who always has an interesting picture to share with her. She’s more on the popular side of things and is in that awkward stage of life where she wants her friends to like her, but she’s unsure if they’ll like the person she’s becoming. It’s an awkward age to be and her nerves are really well written. Anna and Finn develop a relationship, but she’s always a little shy of introducing Finn to her friends as the guy she likes. Her wariness costs her the relationship with Finn, one of the best things to happen to her. He moves away, but she can’t stop thinking about him. When he moves back their senior year of high school, she’s given the chance to make things right.

I actually really enjoyed Anna as a character, more than I thought I would. Her 9th grade self is exactly who I thought she’d be. She concerned with how others view her and wants to make people like her, even if it’s not her they actually like. Four years later, as a senior, she’s a lot more comfortable in who she is. She’s found her talent in drawing and doesn’t put as much stock in how others view her. She’s found a peace with who she is and has friends who accept her, quirks and all.

Finn, while adorable, wasn’t really my thing. He’s fine as a character, maybe just a touch too perfect, but he’s really the catalyst for Anna’s change. He’s sweet and provides a bit of levity and teen romance to the novel. He fits in nicely with the story, but in the end, I felt as though he’s a replaceable character. He helped with character development, but he wasn’t a fully developed character in his own right, in my opinion.

I found the plot of the novel really did a good job of showing Anna’s growth. It was easy to see her unease with herself as a newcomer in high school. Her priorities were fitting in and trying to keep from sticking out in a wrong way. It cost her a relationship she found happiness in, and that forced her to change. Her priorities have changed by the time she’s a senior. Reading as she tries to reconcile her actions in the past with the person she is now was a very real portrayal of how people grow and change with time. In that respect, it was a wonderful novel.

I did have problems with Finn becoming dateable only because he didn’t fit the “nerd” image stereotype anymore, as well as a few other issues with the book, but overall it was a nice read. This definitely has to be you “type” of book, but if a sweet high school romance is your kind of novel, this is a book to pick up.

If The Last Best Kiss sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

Title: Epic Fail
Author: LaZebnik
Pages: 295 pages paperback, 309 ebook
Rating: ★★★★

I started Epic Fail because I was in the mood for a light, sweet read that would put a smile on my face and wouldn’t make my heart hurt at all. That is exactly what I got.

The story centers on Elise and her relationship with Derek. Derek is the son of two famous movie stars and despite her desire to not judge him based on that, in trying to do so, she ends up judging him the wrong way from the beginning. They go back and forth in liking each other and not, but it doesn’t get annoying or frustrating. It still holds that sweet feeling of high school romance.

The other reason I enjoyed this book so much was the relationship between Elise’s sister Juliana and Derek’s friend Chase. Those two are the initial reason Elise and Derek begin to hang out and even though they aren’t the main part of the story, I loved reading the little bits of their relationship as well. They have the high school drama as well, but once again, it wasn’t eye-roll worthy. It made the characters a little more real to have something like that happen, but they also didn’t break down like the “typical” teen in a book would do. Juliana brushed herself off and kept on moving forward.

Elise’s family was a little extreme, but they were made that way. Her little sister Layla is a lot to handle and even though she was one of the annoying characters in the book, in a way, her excessive amount of drama even made sense.

Epic Fail is a quick read book, but it is still a sweet look at high school romance in a unique setting. It made me smile and it’s the perfect kind of book for a pick-me-up kind of afternoon.

If Epic Fail sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble