My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal.
Published: June 10, 2014.
Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Source: Won from Goodreads' First Reads program. (Supplied by the publisher - thanks Macmillan!)
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 started off very rough for me. I actually almost DNF-ed it, but my curiosity is too great for my own good so I couldn't bring myself do it. While the story did get a little better, this one just didn't impress me like I had hoped it would.
With the opening of the book Cassidy discovers right away that she is dead but still lingering in the world. This opening section where she is trying to figure out how that is possible and if anyone can see or hear her was not a great beginning. It felt quite confused and almost as if the author was just as unsure of the rules of ghost-hood as Cassidy was. This is the point that almost had me put the book down because it just felt muddled and almost a little bit without purpose. It didn't bring me to care at all about Cassidy or her situation because I was left either confused or frustrated by the lack of clarity I found throughout the beginning.
Luckily for me, My Last Kiss did improve after its rocky start. The whole ghost situation straightened itself out after a bit and seemed to follow the rules it set up for itself, and this managed to become an interesting perspective. As Cassidy is unable to remember a lot of the time leading up to her death, I enjoyed getting the information and learning the back story just as she was. Setting the narrative up that way definitely helped to get me interested in finding out what played out and how she died, which is really why I kept reading the book. This aspect of the book played out quite well. I was intrigued by the possibilities and mostly satisfied by the big reveal and the ending.
The characters are a bit of a mixed bunch. There is a small group of high school students who are central to the story and some I found well written while others felt, frankly, pretty uninteresting. For example, Cassidy's two best friends were a good element, especially as their friendship is explored under the surface. But on the other hand, the boy that Cassidy is concerned she cheated on her boyfriend with didn't do much for me. I really wanted to care about him and his relationship with Cassidy, but he seemed a little unoriginal and I wasn't feeling their fling. Their situation also didn't do anything to make me more sympathetic to Cassidy, which I think it was meant to. Maybe it will work for other readers, but it didn't do much for me. Ethan, Cassidy's boyfriend, was even mixed for me. I definitely felt for him and I appreciated him as a character, but I was sometimes left bored by his scenes with Cassidy. So when it comes to characters, I found some of them a little predictable, but with some of the others I enjoyed that there was more to them than it first seemed.
Overall, this book was very mixed for me. A rough start almost made me stop reading altogether and while some of the characters didn't feel complex enough, there were some relationships that I enjoyed exploring and it came from a perspective that had me not necessarily invested, but at least interested in the mystery.