Book Reviews

Book Review: The Last Cuentista

by Donna Barba Higuera

Publisher’s Synopsis

There lived a girl named Petra Peña, who wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita.

But Petra’s world is ending. Earth has been destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children – among them Petra and her family – have been chosen to journey to a new planet. They are the ones who must carry on the human race.

Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet – and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. A sinister Collective has taken over the ship during its journey, bent on erasing the sins of humanity’s past. They have systematically purged the memories of all aboard – or purged them altogether.

Petra alone now carries the stories of our past, and with them, any hope for our future. Can she make them live again?

The Last Cuentista is a book about the power of stories.

What I Liked:

Petra’s use of stories to reveal bits of truth to the other Zeytas. Stories really can be a powerful way to convey truth and themes, so I liked the way the author wove that into the book. The tidbits of Mexican culture and lore that popped up in Petra’s stories were neat too.

Even though we don’t necessarily get to know him a ton, I liked Voxy. Higuera really captured the curious, adventurous kid personality in him.

I’m also pretty sure that Higuera came up with a unique way to have the world end.

What I Struggled With:

I had a little bit of trouble orientation myself in the story at the beginning. I don’t why I struggled to follow it, but I did. Maybe it was just a me thing.

I would have loved for a little bit more worldbuilding. While the characters weren’t existing on a blank canvas, I did feel like I was having to fill in the setting a little bit more than normal. Sci-fi has such potential for unique great worldbuilding and setting opportunities, so I was a little disappointed that Higuera didn’t flesh it out as much as she could have.

Overall Thoughts:

The Last Cuentista is a unique sci-fi story, with fun storytelling themes. I just wasn’t as blown away by it as I’d hoped to be.

Cautions: five blasphemies; there’s a reference to God as a “her”; one of the side characters had two moms, which is referenced a couple of times 

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