The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Posted 3 February, 2015 by Nikki Wang in 2015, ARC, Book Review, Stand-alone / 2 Comments

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia HandThe Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
Published by HarperCollins on February 10, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 400

AmazonBook Depository
There's death all around us.
We just don't pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on.

lasttimewesaygoodbyequoteCynthia Hand. Unearthly was one of the first YA series I’d started reading, so finding out that a contemporary was in the works was pretty  much the most exciting thing ever. The premise seemed a bit overdone, especially in YA, but authors are always brilliant at coming up with new twists on old stories.
But I’ll say this now–The Last Time We Say Goodbye isn’t going on a list of favorites anytime soon.

There was just something about the story that felt utterly cheesy and motifs that were overdone in YA. The whole letter/diary assignment from her therapist, her brother’s letter, and other scenes that I can’t really talk about (spoilers). Then things happened that made me think about the fact that maybe going to high school has ruined me for YA contemporaries–because every single time something happened, the first thing that went through my head was “Yeah, no. This would never happen in school.” Or, at the very least, in my school. And that severely impacted my opinion as I continued reading. There were too many things that were such random coincidences, things that were overplayed, and things that were just…out of place.

As for characters, they were interesting, but I never felt like I really understood any of them. They weren’t exactly one dimensional, but they weren’t these complex or beautiful characters that I’d expected from Hand. Pleasant, but not stunning. Nothing really fell together in a way that I felt like they should, and it seemed that a majority of the characters were just there to smile and act pretty with barely any stage time.
Lex herself wasn’t particularly well written, but the grief that Hand portrayed was infinitely heartbreaking. She wrote heavy emotions and dealt out raw feelings every couple of pages, hitting you hard in the chest whenever Lex started to hit rock bottom and that was probably one of the better aspects of the book. But there was a lot of try-hard geekiness going on. Moments where it was obvious that she was supposed to be nerdy and incredibly smart, but felt more like she was reading something off the internet to impress the reader. It kind of failed on that front.

What did impress me, though? The romance. I absolutely adored the romance mainly because it wasn’t there. There’s no romance in about 96% of the book and that’s one of the spectacular things about it. It’s a book about moving on and grief, and only that. There’s no side romance, no quick fling, no bad boy to make every hurt feeling go away. Lex spends the majority of the book just…trying to come to terms with what happened and how things fell on top of her.

I wouldn’t really recommend The Last Time We Say Goodbye right off the bat, but I’ll agree that it’s a heartbreaking novel about loss and grief and the heartache of moving on. There’s definitely something that’s unique about it, different from all the other similar plots, but a lot of things hindered my love of the book–though I definitely still enjoyed it.

3 Stars

Nikki Wang

2 Responses to “The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand”

  1. It’s too bad you didn’t like The Last Time We Say Goodbye. It’s pretty annoying when books aren’t realistic and feel forced. However, I’m glad to hear that this story works without romance. I think some YA books throw in romance when they don’t need it just because romance is in about every YA book. In reality, though, not all teens are interested in romance in high school.
    Ana @ Butterflies of the Imagination recently posted…Fangirls: We Come in All Shapes and Sizes

  2. I liked this more than you did. I started off skeptical about whether I could connect with Lex but came around in the end. But I agree with you on the romance — loved that it wasn’t a huge part of the book. I mean, she’s coming to terms with her brother’s death and I loved the way the book showed how that affected her relationship.
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics
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