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I had seen The Last Cuentista everywhere since it was first published. It was ALL OVER Bookstagram and it caught my eye every single time I walked into a bookstore. I was so immediately drawn in by this stunning cover…truly one of the most gorgeous books I have ever laid eyes on. But, I never bought it. I am not a huge sci-fi fan. It has just never been my thing so I wrote this off as something I wouldn’t like. Well, fast forward to the ALA awards. Boom…it wins The Newbery. Well, maybe I should give it a try. Loved. Every. Single. Page. Trust me, I am as surprised as you are! Let’s chat about why I loved it so much!
The Last Cuentista
So, what is The Last Cuentista all about?
Let’s start with a quick description of the book because it is such a clever and interesting concept!
The Last Cuentista is the story of Petra Peña, a young girl whose world is coming to end. A comet is headed for Earth and Petra and her family are among the chosen ones (because her parents are scientists) to leave Earth and head to another planet with the goal of carrying on the human race. This new planet is hundreds of years away. Petra and her family are placed in stasis where they will remain asleep and not aging for 300 years. When Petra awakes she quickly discovers that a group has formed, The Collective. Petra is the only one who remembers anything about Earth. Everyone else has no memories…which is the goal of The Collective…to start fresh and get rid of all of the sins of the past.
Sounds incredible doesn’t it? Well, it is!
The Last Cuentista is a middle-grade novel. Middle-grade is my jam. My happy place. I actually thought this was a Young Adult book when I first picked it up. The cover didn’t scream middle-grade to me. I think I was even MORE excited when I learned that it was, in fact, middle-grade. Why? Well, because there honestly aren’t a lot of honest-to-goodness Sci-Fi books out there for middle-grade readers! I know for my family I have kids who absolutely LOVE all things Sci-Fi and Dystopian…and I know that holds true for a lot of other middle-grade readers. So to have something that not only fills that void, but does it SO WELL…well, that just excites my little book-nerd heart!
What I loved about this book is that I was fully immersed in this story from the very first pages. Author Donna Barba Higuera writes with the most vivid and detailed descriptions. The words just flowed across the page! It is also the perfect blend of Sci-Fi and folklore. Since Petra dreams of being a storyteller, we see her abuela’s stories interwoven throughout the pages of the book and it is perfection. This is a story for storytellers. It is a story for people who love the art of hearing a good story.
This is a story that is set so far in the future…yet it wasn’t at all hard to believe that things like this could actually happen. It is a story about humanity.
Who Should Read It?
As I mentioned above, this is a middle-grade book. But…don’t let that stop you from reading it if you aren’t typically a middle-grade fan. I think this book could easily dance right on the line between middle-grade and YA. It read with the intensity of a YA book. I didn’t find any of the content to be questionable for middle-grade readers though. It does have darkness and intensity, so if you have a more sensitive reader just bear that in mind.
If you are a lover of fast-paced books that simultaneously keep you on the edge of your seat and tug at your heartstrings, then this is the book for you! I was so emotionally invested and attached to the characters in this book…which is something I didn’t expect! That is a huge credit to Higuera’s beautiful writing. So often with Sci-Fi I find myself so wrapped up with the science and technology aspect that I never develop that connection to the characters. It was the exact opposite for me here…and I loved the story even more for that!
This was definitely a 5 star read for me! This is going to be a book that stays with me for a long time. So glad that I ignored my preconceived thoughts about Science Fiction and gave this a shot.
I would love to hear your thoughts if you have read this book! Are you a Science Fiction fan?
Scope out your local library or bookstore…it seems that it is sold-out or on back-order at many online retailers! Adding a link to Bookshop.Org below…they have a waitlist 🙂