Mindy McGinnis closes her thrilling YA duology with The Last Laugh, solving long cold mysteries all while continuing to capture the gothic atmosphere of Edgar Allan Poe.
Let me start by saying I loved The Initial Insult, and I loved The Last Laugh. I’m a little mad that The Bookish Box didn’t offer a special edition version of this book, considering they did with the first novel. But I will survive.
Nevertheless, let’s get down to business. The Last Laugh is a young adult thriller. It picks up right where the first novel left off. Tress Montor has left her friend Felicity Turnado inside the old Usher old for dead, built behind a brick wall. With a gaping wound on her arm from the escaped panther, Tress begins to hallucinate as the days go by, her arm slowly deteriorating, taking her mind with her.
But the story does not just follow her. Much like with the first novel, we’re given two other perspectives. In the first novel, we follow Tress and Felicity down memory lane, capturing two sides of the story and the giant black panther that escaped from the zoo Tress lives at with her grandfather.
Now we’re entering the mind and memories of Ribbit Usher, Tress’s cousin and school laughingstock, and Rue, the orangutan that Tress has a soft spot for. Unfortunately, we never saw much of Ribbit in the first novel. He is Tress’s cousin, she watches out for him, but she failed him to take care of personal business that night, causing a video of his humiliation to go viral, earning his ire.
McGinnis delves into Ribbit’s narrative to build up the mystery and the tension. And she does the same thing with Rue’s perspective. Rue’s is written in the way of poetry, again capturing the essence of Poe’s poetry, giving off this dark and eerie atmosphere.
The Last Laugh is a gothic thriller, moving at an incredible pace, going between three different perspectives that hook the reader. Each of these characters sees something; they know something that adds to the bigger picture: what happened to Tress Montor’s parents?
As with the first novel, the characters are what drive the story forward. As much as this is a mystery filled with secrets, revelations, twists, and turns, the characters’ narratives work together to propel the story forward.
Tress is still the snarky outcast she was in the previous novel. There is something dark about her persona that draws the reader in. Life has dealt her the short stick. Tress lost her parents in a single night; she lost her home and everything, becoming the school pariah. But Tress does not care about social status, about school. There has always been this one thing that has driven her: the mystery behind her parents’ disappearance.
Tress has the angst that speaks to the reader, and the fact that she begins to unravel the secrets of the past and begins to hallucinate due to her injury makes the reader begin to question just how reliable of a narrator she is.
Then there is Ribbit. In hindsight, McGinnis hints that there may be something wrong with Ribbit Usher. But it is not until The Last Laugh that the reader sees how unhinged he is. Ribbit is obsessed with his mother’s approval, bending to her every whim, yet he fails to be accepted into the social ranks at school. Ridiculed almost daily, he has no friends but one obsession: Felicity.
Ribbit is obsessed with Felicity, he is obsessed with revenge, and it slowly unravels how one of Poe’s stories would. Ever so slowly, we are seeing just how deranged and unstable Ribbit is, and it is eerie in the best of ways.
The Last Laugh is a fantastic conclusion to an excellent series. I loved every minute of it. The Last Laugh is one of those books I could devour in a single sitting, and looking back, I probably did. I love how McGinnis uses poetry to capture the perspective of Rue, and I love how she slowly builds up the tension and mystery. As a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, I think that McGinnis was able to capture what Poe did so well with his storytelling. I need more like The Last Laugh.
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|Pub Date: March 15, 2022||Page Count: 384pp||Age Range: 14 & Over|
|ISBN: 978-0-0629-8245-2||Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books||List Price: $17.99|