Reinberger Review: The Last Cuentista

Audience: 10-14 years

Review by Sarah Bihn (she/her)

MLIS Student, Kent State University iSchool

 

There is nothing Petra wants more than to be a storyteller like her grandmother. However, with earth’s imminent destruction by a comet, Petra and her family are chosen to leave Earth, and travel to the nearest inhabitable planet. The plan is for scientists like her parents to take a planet similar to Earth, and repopulate it with the necessary resources to thrive. While they are placed in stasis for the journey–one that will take hundreds of years–a select group of Monitors will watch over them. However, when Petra awakes, it is not her parents that are awaiting her, but a totalitarian collective that seeks to exploit Petra and the other sleepers by reprogramming their brains to serve the Collective. 

Realizing that she is the only one who remembers life on earth, Petra must use her wits if she is to stay alive and find her family. A family that might not even be alive as the Collective has awoken others to serve them throughout their travels. Through her ability to tell stories, Petra helps to remind the others of what it means to be human–with all the love and heartbreak that comes with being so. 

This book is completely engrossing and grabs onto both the reader’s attention and their heart from the first to the last page. It has been a while since I read a book and found myself dismayed to realize I had read the final page without realizing it. At first, I flipped through the author’s notes just to make sure I had not missed any part of Petra’s journey, and then came the dawning resignation that the final page was the final page. No matter how much I wanted it to continue, Petra’s story had ended, and I was not entirely ready to give her up just yet. 

Higuera takes an overused trope (the world being destroyed and humans leaving to find a new planet) and creates a unique story of what it means to be truly human. Petra’s voice is honest and heartbreaking as she struggles to come to terms with the world she awakes to. 

 

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