Author: Bethany Neal (Twitter)
Publisher: FSG BYR
Publish Date: June 10, 2014
Genre: YA, Paranormal Mystery
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.
In an age where ghost stories are a dime a dozen, it's refreshing to read a story about a girl who can't leave until she understands how she died. My Last Kiss explores the life and death of Cassidy Haines, a girl who had it all, until it was wrenched away from her three days after her seventeenth birthday. Police have deemed her death a suicide, but her memory is hazy, and though she knows she was going through a rough time, she knows she wouldn't have simply ended her life. To solve her murder and save her name, Cassidy must return to those she loved (and hurt) the most - if only to find some peace in her afterlife.
The premise for My Last Kiss isn't entirely original. In fact, I remember reading Between by Jessica Warman and thinking what a remarkable setup for a novel it was to return your deceased MC to the present day to uncover the truth behind their demise. My Last Kiss, however, offers us a little bit more. Secrets shroud the night of Cassidy's party, and we're asked to sift through the murky details with her to understand both why and how our protagonist died. Author, Bethany Neal, doesn't make it a cut-and-dried affair for us though, flipping between the past and present to get a glimpse at the alibis of the present day and the fragmented memories Cassidy has to uncover.
Whereas other novels have succeeded with this formula before though, I struggled with some of My Last Kiss, in large part because of the characters. There is a large host of secondary characters, all of whom are offered up as suspects in what Cassidy suspects is her murder. Of Madison and Aimee, her best friends, Madison was a cold fish, while Aimee wanted nothing more than to uncover the truth. Ethan, Cassidy's boyfriend, was devoted, loving and grief-stricken, while her fling, Caleb, was self-medicating the pain away. Ethan's friends played their roles, too, but I felt like many of the characters fell into their tropes and never transcended them. It was a hodge-podge of personas, and very few of them were incredibly likable or real.
In terms of the plot, My Last Kiss is slowly unfurled throughout the story as Cassidy pieces together life before and after her death. This was both a gift and a curse because I so wanted to better understand just why Cassidy would give up what she had with Ethan only to find comfort with another. And, in the end, I don't see her reasoning as solid, since she told him easily enough in the end. The murder plot was a maze - I'll give it that. I didn't know who the actual murderer was, but I definitely figured out a player in the plot, and I was a bit disappointed that we didn't get to see the actual repercussions after following the entire journey.
Overall, My Last Kiss was both a challenging and engaging read. While I feel as though depth of characters and reasoning behind the mystery was lacking, it was nevertheless a fast-paced, easy read. I give it a 3.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy lighter murder mysteries and paranormal stories.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.