Friday, May 09, 2014

Review: My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal

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Review: My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal
My Last Kiss
Bethany Neal
Genre: Mystery, YA
Publication date: June 10th 2014
by Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR)

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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.

Bethany Neal's suspenseful debut novel is about the power of first love and the haunting lies that threaten to tear it apart.
-A copy was provided by Raincoast Books for review-

I’m beginning to think that YA murder mysteries just aren’t the thing for me. Movies filled with twists and turns and murder, yes please! But for some reason it just never feels like it is pulled off as well in book form. My Last Kiss is basically a murder mystery featuring stupid decisions and supercharged teen hormones that had me cringing at the explanation behind everything that happens.

We start the book off seeing MC Cassidy’s very first kiss that she shared on a bridge with the boy she liked Ethan. Once that chapter is over we are taken for a quick turn as we realize we are still Cassidy only she is no longer in her body and is a ghost trying to solve the case of her murder. The last few weeks leading up to her death (where she fell off the bridge from the first chapter) are a complete blur and she has to follow her friends and family around to piece together what happened. This sounds so cool, right? It was! I really enjoyed seeing Cassidy explore her new existence and find out what she was capable of and what she was no longer capable of. Things are thrown for a another quick turn when she realizes that Ethan (who at the time of her death had been her boyfriend for 3 years) can see her in her ghostly form and even make physical contact with her. Suffice it to say this little tidbit of luck helps her move along in solving what happened to her pretty nicely.

In the beginning of the book we get to see her check on everyone that she knew when she was alive. Seeing how they are coping after her death was great and I loved getting to see it all from the eyes of the dead girl (yes, Blunt is my middle name.) Normally we see it from the perspective of someone who knew the person who died but seeing it from the eyes of the deceased allowed for there to be a certain… lightness to it. What I mean is, Cassidy was able to crack jokes about her death and her newfound abilities so it made the novel a lot less bleak than stories with dead teens are usually. We also get to see first hand the details of what Cassidy was up to in the weeks leading up to her death as the memories come to her. The incorporation of the memories into the story was really cool because she would be taken into the memory in a really unique way. One thing that didn’t work too well for me is the jumpiness of the timeframes of these memories. In the beginning she would go back to memories she had of her girlfriends from junior high or with her boyfriend and it took me a bit to place what timeframe I was reading about. Not helping this matter is the fact that Cassidy’s first and last kiss were on the very same bridge that she died on so pinpointing exactly what instance we were reading about took some time for me at some parts. Once the memories started focussing more-so on the party that took place the night of her death I didn’t struggle with the jumps at all.

Something that left me quite underwhelmed with My Last Kiss was the intricate love web that is weaved and that essentially leads to Cassidy’s death. Friends having crushes on friends, cheating scandals and asshole jocks making moves when they shouldn’t is essentially the basis of everything that happens. It all felt very over-the-top-drama to me and was far too predictable. About halfway through you really see the pieces of the big picture start to show up and piecing them together was something that I was able to do right off the bat. I did hope for a twist that would take my by surprise in the end but unfortunately that didn’t happen.

I do think that My Last Kiss is a very unique take on the usual whodunnit thriller but it isn’t one that I think is really all that remarkable in any way. If you’re looking for something that is entertaining even though it is rather predictable then I think you could enjoy it.

3 Stars
3 Hot Espressos

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Hi! I’m Jenni and I am a book-a-holic. I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and more than anything, I love reading. I mostly read within the YA genre though I do venture into middle grade and adult from time to time. I was big into reading in high school but then when I had my children I stepped away from it for a bit. Now that my brats are a bit older and I have more time on my hands I have jumped back into it head on.
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24 Responses to “Review: My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal”

  1. Carina Olsen

    Ohh, awesome review sweetie :D I just read this book last week. I liked it a little bit more than you, but I also felt like there were a lot of drama. Sigh. Wishing it had been much more murder mystery, lol. And more of just Ethan as the love interest. I would have liked that, hih :) Anyway. Thank you for sharing. <3 I'm glad you liked this book mostly at least :)
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Review: Blackbird by Anna CareyMy Profile

    • Jenni

      It was definitely a neat story I just wish everything played out better. Everything was just so trivial in the end. Happy you had better luck with this one!

  2. Amanda @ Book Badger

    Gah what a shame about this book. I’m currently a fan of The Dead Girls Detective Agency which is basically girls solving their own murder and I’m quite attached to that, so I can’t help but think that I’d be a little let down by this book. I also think the features of being able to see and touch the dead main character is just too easy for a mysterious book surrounding solving your death. That cover is beautiful and the premise sounds good, but it sounds like just a good read. Glad you enjoyed it as much as you did though, thankful it wasn’t a flop Jenni :)
    Amanda @ Book Badger recently posted…Five Friday Favourites #14 – Not-So-Favourite Leading LadiesMy Profile

    • Jenni

      I’ve never heard of The Dead Girls Detective Agency but I think I need to check them out! And yeah her ability to touch and be seen by her boyfriend was just far too convenient.

    • Jenni

      Don’t worry I am the exact same way with a pretty cover! It was a bit too much for me but other people seem to be loving it so maybe you will too!

    • Jenni

      I’m not sure how you would fare with this one, it focuses a lot more on the drama surrounding her death than the actual mystery.

    • Jenni

      I agree, the beginning of this review came out a bit ranty because I was just having such a bad string of luck with YA mysteries. After I read this one I read one that I really enjoyed so it renewed my faith in the genre! LOL

  3. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I was quite excited about this, but I’ll admit that your review is making me want to lower my expectations. YA murder mysteries don’t often work for me too, but I’ll admit this sounds interesting. I also have something against ghost books.
    It sounds like there’s a lot of drama though. Still, I’m curious to find out what really happened to Cassidy.
    Great review, Jenni.
    Nick @ Nick’s Book Blog recently posted…Mini-Review : Fall With Me by Julie PatrickaMy Profile

  4. Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Book Blog)

    I love your review! I defintiely want to find great murder mysteries/YA thrillers, but it’s been hard for me to find them!! This sounds like it is okay… I don’t know about over-the-top trivial drama though. It sounds a little blah. I think I might try it anyway though because I like ghost trying to solve their deaths books.
    Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Book Blog) recently posted…We Were Liars by E. LockhartMy Profile

    • Jenni

      It was a best premise to see it all from the perspective of the person who was killed I just wish everything else in the novel worked a bit better. I hope you fare better with it if you do give it a go, Michelle!

  5. Lauren

    I don’t always mind predictability, as long as the rest of the book is good, but I really hate over the top drama. I think this one sounds like it’s just not unique or interesting enough for me to try after all. I’m glad I read your review, I can seek out better written YA mysteries instead. Thanks for your thoughtful take on this!
    Lauren recently posted…SWEET RECKONING Blog Tour: Interview with BelialMy Profile

    • Jenni

      No, I’ve never read anything by Pike. I’ll have to look into it though because I loved the premise, just wish it was executed a bit better!

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