I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux on June 10, 2014
Source: the publisher
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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.
My Last Kiss was a twisty mystery that kept me guessing until the very end. Bethany Neal wrote a story with an intriguing plot and likable characters that I grew to truly care for. The mystery in this book was so intense, I was literally screaming at my book in frustration, trying to figure out who the “culprit” was! I had 19 Goodreads status updates for this book and 11 of them were “I don’t trust that person…. No, now I don’t trust THAT person!”
I really enjoyed Cassidy’s story and being on this journey with her. There were moments where I felt very disconnected from her, but I think that’s because she was so disconnected from herself. With chunks missing from her memory, she didn’t know who she was, who to trust, who was telling the truth, etc. So as the reader, we didn’t know either. It was really interesting to see how this played out and it made it even more satisfying when Cassidy remembered things; it was like an “Aha!” moment.
I adored Aimee. She was an amazing friend, loyal and kind. She loved Cassidy so much, she refused to believe the “truth” given to her and she sought answers. Her investigation effected everyone involved and changed a lot of lives – some for the better and some… not so much. Madison was an awful friend and I wanted to slap her for pretty much the entire book.
Ethan and Caleb… The “love interests.” I would love to discuss these two guys at length but I don’t want to risk spoilers so all I’m going to say is this: I liked Ethan a lot, but didn’t like him with Cassidy. I absolutely loved Caleb, but I don’t think he ever could have fit into Cassidy’s life. I went back and forth a LOT on which of these two guys I distrusted more for a good portion of the book!
Mica and Drew… Ugh. I thought both of them were slimy and sleezy right from the beginning. I never liked them and never trusted them. And the way their story lines played out… It definitely wasn’t what I expected!
There was a HUGE ensemble of characters in this book, some in Cassidy’s group of friends, some who hung on the edges of her clique. It would be almost impossible to name them all and discuss them without spoilers. However, I commend Neal for writing such amazing secondary – and even tertiary – characters. Some authors are great with their main characters, but don’t develop their secondary characters enough. Yet Neal was able to create an entire group of people and make them feel alive and real. I felt like each character was given their own unique background and no one (not even the tertiary characters) was forgotten.
The one thing with ghost stories that gets to me, though, is that the main character can grow so much from beginning to end – especially in this kind of situation where they don’t remember anything and slowly realize what they did and where they went wrong – but… They can’t really do anything with this knowledge. Cause.. they’re dead. I’m a big fan of character development, so this kind of irks me. I do feel like their lessons typically rub off on their friends and family, who then become better for it. So I think this was the one down-side to My Last Kiss – with where the story ends, we really don’t see what the big reveal means for everyone, or how anyone grows as a result of the things they went through and learned. I would have loved an epilogue or even just one more chapter, something so we could have gotten more of a resolution.
Overall, I absolutely LOVED My Last Kiss. I feel like we don’t have a lot of amazing ghost stories in YA, so when I come across one, I get really excited! My Last Kiss is definitely going to the top of the “Amazing Ghost Stories in YA” list. I definitely feel like this was a strong debut for Bethany Neal and I’m VERY excited to see what she comes up with next! I highly recommend this book for fans of ghost stories, as well as for fans of books like Tara Hudson’s Hereafter trilogy!