Book Review: Every Last Breath by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Some loves will last ’til your dying breath
Every choice has consequences—but seventeen-year-old Layla faces tougher choices than most. Light or darkness. Wickedly sexy demon prince Roth, or Zayne, the gorgeous, protective Warden she never thought could be hers. Hardest of all, Layla has to decide which side of herself to trust.
Layla has a new problem, too. A Lilin—the deadliest of demons—has been unleashed, wreaking havoc on those around her…including her best friend. To keep Sam from a fate much, much worse than death, Layla must strike a deal with the enemy while saving her city—and her race—from destruction.
Torn between two worlds and two different boys, Layla has no certainties, least of all survival, especially when an old bargain comes back to haunt them all. But sometimes, when secrets are everywhere and the truth seems unknowable, you have to listen to your heart, pick a side—and then fight like hell…
The ending of a series is always bittersweet. As always, I flew through yet another of Jen’s books and it’s safe to say the woman hasn’t quite lost her touch. When she wants you to feel something, dammit, she’s gonna make you feel it. Emotions ran high and all the feels were brought out while reading this. In true JLA fashion, she brings plenty of humor, snark, surprises, and action into Every Last Breath and you can’t help feeling a wave of satisfaction of a book well read and written after reading one of her books.
Layla was easily the star of the show here and her being on the cover fits perfectly with how the story went. This was definitely her book. She grows a lot in this book, understanding who and what she is, making life-changing choices, learning some cold, hard truths, and making sacrifices for the greater good. I really loved her in this book and despite my minor issue with her choice of lovers, I still heart the girl with a passion. She felt more mature to me in this book, making those choices and sticking to them. Being in her head was nice because you could see where her mindset was during each of these events, how strong her emotions were during those good times, but also how much pain she felt when those inevitable bad moments happened. I connected to her a lot more in this book and that helped make my reading experience so much more enjoyable.
FYI: This is next part about who Layla chooses is only partly spoilerish if you follow me on social media and know which team I’m on. No names are mentioned though. You’ve been warned.
As for Layla’s choice, the winner was obvious. I don’t know if Jen had always planned it this way, but the way she wrote it and how the book spoke to me, it just seems like this was always going to be the case. I understood it. I’m reasonable and can clearly see who is the better choice. Am I happy about it, though? Not so much. Don’t get me wrong. The winner was exceptional in this book and surprised me with how passionate, caring, considerate, and sweet he truly is. When this guy falls, he falls hard and makes sure the one on the receiving end knows how much he loves her. There were definitely a few swoonworthy moments that could’ve swayed me had I not been so invested in the other guy. The things he said could make any girl melt and it would definitely be hard to resist if he focused that energy on me. I’m getting butterflies just thinking of some of the things he said and did.
With that said though because I was rooting for the other guy, I knew once Layla made her choice, it would take away from my connection to their relationship, and it ultimately did. It’s kind of like how I felt with Will and Tessa from The Infernal Devices. I was so wholeheartedly on Team Jem, that despite the awesomeness that is Will Herondale, I couldn’t fully invest in their romance. I respected and appreciated it, but I didn’t love it. The same thing happened here. While I fully believe Layla made the right choice and that guy can charm the pants off me any old day, my heart still yearned and ached for the other guy. I have to also mention that while Clare gave fans what I believe was a generous ending to that love triangle, JLA broke my heart with how she flipped his character once he was rejected. I couldn’t accept the way he acted and how devoid the book was of him. Yes, the book needed to focus on the couple, but it was like “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” and then he’s gone, never to appear again except for those fleeting moments where he’s basically a stranger, but necessary to aid in stopping the Lilin. I feel like we didn’t get enough of a resolution, at least on his side, of their romance for me to truly be happy with how it all went down. It’s like each guy did a total 360, the Chosen One turning into this romantic, irresistible (and sometimes mushy) one and The Loser turning into this closed off, prickly jerk. If anyone watches The Bachelorette (I’ve recently become obsessed with the show), I totally felt like The Loser pulled “a Nick” and that kind of turned me off from him, which in turn made me mad, because I didn’t want to feel that way about him.
It’s because of this that while reading it I felt a little off and whenever those sweet, romantic scenes with Layla and her Chosen One came up, I smiled, but it didn’t reach my eyes. My heart fluttered, but it didn’t skip a beat. The effect was just dulled.
That’s my take on that, so anyways…
Some secondary characters that need to be mentioned here are the familiars aka the tattoos. I loved them all. Thumper makes a grand entrance and Bambi shines as my favorite of them all. We also meet a new one named Robin who wasn’t bad. These tattoos need like their own featurette or novella where we see them getting into trouble or just having fun. I also really liked Dez, Jasmine, and Danika. Cayman wasn’t bad either, although the absurdness of his words and mannerisms was over the top at times and it often made me cringe with awkwardness. I’ll refer to my thoughts on Fall With Me, where I wonder if people truly talk like that nowadays or is just for the laugh factor?
Every Last Breath was some of Jen’s best work to date in terms of the world she created and how the story flowed. The pacing was on point, mixing action-packed scenes, romantic moments, and key plot points together in a seamless way that made it difficult to stop reading. She took the whole Heaven and Hell/Angels and Demons thing apart and put it back together in her own wickedly unique way making it one of the better books I’ve read with the theme. If you’ve been waiting impatiently to see how it all ends, you won’t be disappointed. Jen packs a wallop of a punch and pulls out all the stops to give you one heck of an ending.