The Last Present: A Book Review

Hello!

The Last Present

Title: The Last Present

Author: Wendy Mass

Published: September 24th, 2013 by Scholastic Press

Pages: 256

Genre: Middle Grade / Fantasy

Source: Sister’s Christmas gift {a big thank you to Lulu for letting me borrow it!} / Hardcover

Series: Willow Falls series: Book Three

Summary: Amanda and Leo have a history with birthdays. Now their friend’s little sister, Grace, has fallen into a strange frozen state on her birthday, and Amanda and Leo must travel in time in order to fix whatever’s wrong. As they journey back to each of Grace’s birthdays, they start seeing all sorts of patterns… which raise all sorts of questions.

Amanda and Leo are going to have to unravel the threads of the past and present – and travel much further than they ever imagined – if they’re going to save Grace. Luckily, a little birthday magic always helps in the charming and funny Willow Falls series by Wendy Mass, where everything is possible and there are no coincidences. {from Goodreads}

My Thoughts: If you asked me what authors dominated my reading pile a few years back, Wendy Mass would definitely be on the list. I read many of her books, but the series I most fell in love with was the Willow Falls books. The series wrapped up earlier this fall, and while I am so sad to see some of my beloved characters’ adventures end, I am beyond happy that it finished with such a wonderful conclusion. The Last Present has all of things I look for in a good book: a well-paced and developed plot, strong writing that keeps the reader interested, and one-of-a-kind characters that show realism and growth! It wasn’t perfect in every area, but I try to keep my reviews balanced between how well the book was written and how enjoyable I found the story. Let’s get started with the review, shall we?!

Amanda and Leo are no stranger to the tricks of a certain mysterious old lady named Angelina. They are also no stranger to strange birthdays caused by Angelina. So when their friend’s little sister Grace falls ill on her tenth birthday, the two know something is up. Angelina tells them that the only way to get Grace out of her frozen state is to travel back in time to each of her birthdays and fix whatever went wrong. Friends, I love, love, love this story. I adore the entire series actually, but this last book in particular really confirmed why I like it so much. All of my lingering questions from 13 Gifts were answered, but it never felt like the author just wrote it wrap up any loose ends; the book held its own against the others. It was engaging and entertaining – I’m sure any reader would get sucked in from Chapter One!

Wendy Mass is wonderful at creating unique characters. One of my biggest reading pet peeves is running into characters that aren’t distinct enough and/or do not have a “place” in the story, thus they are usually forgettable to me. Thankfully, I never had that problem with this book! I thought Grace was a cutie, and I really enjoyed learning more about her. Of course, while I liked watching the new characters developed, I was still happy to see my old favorites return! Amanda and Leo have such a fun friendship, and their relationship is adorable. Angelina has always been intriguing to me, causing the most questions for me at the end of the other books, so her background story was interesting to read about. Finally, the supporting characters are superb, all adding a little something to the atmosphere of Willow Falls. {Side note! The entire time I was reading this, I couldn’t help but think of Willow Falls as the town in The Muppets Movie, which you can view here :)}

I really can’t think of a better series to recommend to a middle grade reader. I don’t want to give too much away, hence the short review, but I urge you to check it out right away {or at least add it to your TBR list}! Note, though, that this is a series where it is best to start with Book One. It sounds like a big time investment, but it is worth it, trust me!

Pros: Both the main characters and the supporting characters all have a place in the storyline; no one felt underdeveloped. The setting also maintained a consistent atmosphere throughout the story. Whenever I picked it up to read, I was instantly transported to Willow Falls!

Cons: One of the only negative things I can think of is that it took me a little bit to remember what happened to each person in the previous books, but it was nothing a little Google search couldn’t help.

Heads Up: Standard middle grade read, so nothing much to worry about!

Overall: I give it 5 stars {*****}, and I recommend it for ages 10 and up.

Have a terrific rest of your day!
Bella

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