Review / The Last Cuentista

20211113ma_3955Book: The Last Cuentista (2021)
Author: Donna Barba Higuera
Genre: MG, Sci-fi

Opening lines from the book …
Lita tosses another pinon log onto the fire. Sweet smoke drifts past us into the starry sky. Her knees crack as she sits back down on the blanket next to me. The cup of hot chocolate with cinnamon she’s made me sits untouched this time.


1) Lita is a storyteller. And so is her granddaughter Petra, the protagonist of our story. The opening of the book is Petra’s final visit with her grandmother before she and her family leave on the rocket. They are part of the mission to settle a new planet because a comet is set to destroy Earth. So you know this visit is going to be bittersweet. I love books that have a strong grandparent/grandchild thread running through it.

2) This book is such a wonderful mix of sci-fi and folklore. Lita’s stories (that Petra later makes her own) filter through the futuristic spaceship and exploration setting. I love how Petra’s audience (the other children) are drawn to her cuentos (stories), especially the one boy Voxy who has never know life outside of the spaceship.

3) Speaking of Voxy, I loved him! I love how he’s drawn to Petra and to the others. He hasn’t quite been overtaken by the radical agenda of those who are running things. Love how he helps Petra “break in” to find out a little more about their situation and what happened to their parents, etc.

4) And then there’s … Nyla, the Chancellor of the “Collective” (yeah, not a fan of this having watched the Borg do their thing on Star Trek!). She’s one of those authoritarian antagonists you love to hate. Each of the people from Earth have been put into status for the trip. The ones who are monitoring everything will go through several generations. Meaning Nyla and her compatriots have never set foot on Earth and therefore have no real attachment to Earth or Earth’s values. She is the embodiment of those who want to make humans forget all about Earth, even to the point of renaming all the children. (Petra’s name is Zeta-1. We don’t even know the real names of some of the other Zetas.)

5) I love the little twist with Epsilon-5, which I won’t spoil. I like how he works together with Petra.

6) Love that beautiful blue cover!


This book definitely had the vibes of Lois Lowry’s The Giver, but with a hint of Star Trek and other space sagas. I would also recommend for anybody who does like folklore and the art of storytelling, as well as to those who like science fiction and dystopian.



Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday


9 thoughts on “Review / The Last Cuentista

  1. This is a very different book. I like what you shared –the emphasis on intergenerational relationships and storytelling, space travel and a futuristic society. The characters sound very well developed and the world-building is interesting. Since it received a Newbery, it will be on my list to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As everyone else has pointed out, you had the excellent luck of reviewing this the day it won the Newbery! After reading your review and the reviews of others, I think I need to get a copy of this—the way it blends terrifying dystopia and folklore (and the way it WON AN AWARD) sounds really compelling! Thanks so much for the wonderful review, Maria!

    Liked by 1 person

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