Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Review: The Last Time We Were Us by Leah Konen

The Last Time We Were Us by Leah Konen
Release Date: May 10th, 2016
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
A passionate summer love story about a girl, her childhood best friend recently released from juvie, and the small-town lies that have kept them apart. A teen romance debut with a dark edge.

Liz Grant is about to have the summer of her life. She and her friend MacKenzie are getting invited to all the best parties, and with any luck, Innis Taylor, the most gorgeous guy in Bonneville, will be her boyfriend before the Fourth of July.

Local teen convict released early.

Jason Sullivan wasn’t supposed to come back from juvie. A million years ago, he was her best friend, but that was before he ditched her for a different crowd. Before he attacked Innis’s older brother, leaving Skip’s face burned and their town in shock.

“Everything is not what you think.”

Liz always found it hard to believe what they said about Jason, but all of Bonneville thinks he’s dangerous. If word gets out she’s seeing him, she could lose everything. But what if there’s more to that horrible night than she knows? And how many more people will get hurt when the truth finally comes out?

“You’re the one person who believes in me.”

Leah Konen’s southern romance swelters with passion as it explores the devastating crush of lies, the delicate balance of power and perception, and one girl’s journey to find herself while uncovering the secrets of so many others.

My Thoughts:

Oh my... I hate it when books that I have been excited about disappoint me. When I first heard about The Last Time We Were Us, statements like like "Southern small town setting" and "former best friend" instantly drew me in. I am a sucker for stories set in the Southern US (Southern guys are my absolute favorite) and I was so ready to fall in love with this book, but nope.... that didn't happen.

Liz, for so long just a "normal" high school student has finally entered the popular crowd with the help of her new friend MacKenzie. She is now invited to the best parties of Bonneville and it looks like Innis Taylor, pretty much like the prince of Bonneville, is interested in her. Liz's mother, who seems to be all about appearances, is over the moon - with a boyfriend like Innis, there seems to be no limit to what Liz can do. But then Jason Sullivan, Liz's childhood best friend, shows up after spending time in juvie, and while Liz tries to stay away from him, it is not that easy to just ignore a guy that knows her probably better than anyone else.

The Last Time We Were Us had all the ingredients for a YA contemporary I could love, but the way Leah Konen mixes those ingredients didn't work for me at all. Liz's family and her relationship with her mother and sister are aspects I would have liked to see more of, while the novel definitely could have been lighter on the love-triangle between Liz, Innis and Jason. Innis is a douche, there's no doubt about that, but unfortunately Jason is not really developed to be the charming, "right" choice for Liz. Yes, he is a better guy than Innis is, but I must admit that while reading this novel, I really felt nothing for him. I was so ready to swoon for this misunderstood, brooding Southern guy but unfortunately that didn't happen...

I am not quite sure what Liz makes me feel. I was annoyed by her actions towards Veronica, her previous best friend. I feel like when she is with MacKenzie, she is definitely not on her best. She is young and has just gained popularity, which is something she has wanted for a long time, so I do get why she acts in certain way, but at the same time, I was continually annoyed by her. There is a definite change to her thoughts and behavior when she is with Jason, but Konen never really develops that and thus the whole novel falls kind of flat. The synopsis mentions a "passionate summer romance", but nope... I did not find that from here.

Despite all these somewhat negative aspects, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Leah Konen writes extremely well, in my opinion, and it really was her prose that kept me reading despite the fact that I did not enjoy the story itself very much. Because of this, I am really looking forward to what Konen comes up with next! I hope that it also includes a Southern setting and romance, but also more well-developed characters.

The Last Time We Were Us was in no way horrible or something that I wanted to thrown in the wall of something like that. It just fell flat for me - the characters felt very one-sided and undeveloped, the main plot is often overshadowed by little side plots that don't add much to the overall story and just make things confusing. On the up side, the writing works and shows promise, and as I said, I am definitely interested to see what Leah Konen comes up with next.

2 Snowflakes

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