Review: The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik

The Last Best Kiss
Claire LaZebnik
Series: None
Released: April 22, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: 3 stars
Word Rating: I see flaws, but it was still cute, okay?
Reviewed by: Mel

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Anna Eliot is tired of worrying about what other people think. After all, that was how she lost the only guy she ever really liked, Finn Westbrook.

Now, three years after she broke his heart, the one who got away is back in her life.

All Anna wants is a chance to relive their last kiss again (and again and again). But Finn obviously hasn’t forgotten how she treated him, and he’s made it clear he has no interest in having anything to do with her.

Anna keeps trying to persuade herself that she doesn’t care about Finn either, but even though they’ve both changed since they first met, deep down she knows he’s the guy for her. Now if only she can get him to believe that, too....

With her signature wit and expertly authentic teen voice, Claire LaZebnik (the author of fan favorites Epic Fail and The Trouble with Flirting) once again breathes new life into a perennially popular love story. Fans of Polly Shulman, Maureen Johnson, and, of course, Jane Austen will love this irresistibly funny and romantic tale of first loves and second chances.

I know that anyone in their right mind will immediately notice the flaws in The Last Best Kiss. I see them too. Yet I still give this 3 stars because Claire LaZebnik does a fantastic job at creating a cute love story about a girl who made some pretty bad decisions two years ago, and wants to get a second chance even though she well and truly knows that she does not deserve it.

I’ll explode with relief and joy. Because I still miss him, and I want a second chance.

Two years ago, a nerdy boy and a popular girl fell in love. But unlike most love stories, it did not end well. You see, Anna had always wanted to open up to her friends, tell them about Finn but she never got the chance. Her friends said he was a nerd, ugly and short, and soon Anna decided it was best not to tell. After blowing him off at the semiformal and leaving town, Anna has been regretting her actions ever since. So when word gets out that he’s back, Anna hopes for a second chance—fully aware that he hates her more than anything. Finn comes back, utterly changed. He’s taller, he’s no longer got his glasses and now most of Anna’s friends are attracted to him. (He’s also a bit of a Gary Stu, though it did not really bother me much in this case, strangely enough.)

Lucy gazes at him as she sits back down. “He’s so perfect,” she says. “Have you even seen anything so perfect?”

Let me say this: I get why readers do not like the idea that just because someone is good looking, people can now go announcing crushes on them and such. And that was one of my quibbles, that just simply is not right. Does that mean anyone who is not good looking can’t be crushed on now? HOWEVER. I like how Claire LaZebnik used this as a plot device. (I’m not saying I’m 100% cool with what I aforementioned, but it did bring out some good themes.) Anna long realises her mistake of not owing up to her friends and being true to herself, her feelings were thrown down a pit by persuasion and peer pressure. Moreover, we get to see character growth from the Freshman Anna to the Now Anna. She’s slowly learning to not care about what others think, because when it comes to yourself, your own opinion should go first.

What I found most appalling in The Last Best Kiss was the way gay people were treated. Early on in the book, Anna is confronted by her sister, Molly, telling her that she’s a lesbian. Anna’s reaction was acceptable (though at some points she was thinking: I am the last to know again, aren’t I?) however her other sister and father’s reactions were not acceptable at all. 

Father: Is she…gay? I mean, okay… but I’ve seen so many prettier girls than the one she is with now. She could do much better.
The other sister: Riiight. Molly’s just in that faze where you pretend to be gay as an excuse for having no boyfriend. Ugh. She’ll get out of it soon.

That was not an actual quote but you get the idea. *clenches fists*

With the exception of those problems, The Last Best Kiss was a cute novel. I was not a fan of Anna, but her growth was huge and the author did a fantastic job at slowing easing her way through it. Sure, she didn’t tell her friends about Finn when they were Freshmen, but she was young and most teens are always trying to fit in at that age. People change and grow, and Anna did in the most brilliant ways.

Deep down I think he’s mad at me. Deep down I think he might actually hate me. I guess I’ll just have to get used to that too.

The Last Best Kiss is not only a fun and light hearted love story, it’s also about second chances, being true to yourself, learning from mistakes and understanding that strong emotions can’t just disappear in a day. This book is similar to Jane Austen’s Persuasion, but it would not be a good idea to expect something like that at all.


  1. Hmm, I'm just not sure that The Last Best Kiss is for me. I did enjoy Lazebnik's Epic Fail, but I haven't reading any others. I just think I would have a hard time liking Anne.

    1. I guess if you go in with lower expectations it should be easier to enjoy--especially seeing that you liked one of her other books.

  2. Ugh I know! How they treated gay people was SOO annoying but I didn't dock points because I knew it was to make us hate the father and sister even more. I also liked how the superficiality of all the characters was great for Anna's character development. I really loved Epic Fail by her, so I was so sad when I didn't really like this one :( Fantastic review, though, Mellybean! <33

    1. I have a feeling I need to read Epic Fail now, yes? Even though it was used to make us not like them, I just found it COMPLETELY not acceptable for the father and sister to react in such a foul way.


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