The Last Cuentista - book cover
Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Publisher : Levine Querido
  • Published : 12 Oct 2021
  • Pages : 336
  • ISBN-10 : 1646140893
  • ISBN-13 : 9781646140893
  • Language : English

The Last Cuentista

TIME's Best Books of the Year
Wall Street Journal's Best of the Year
Minneapolis Star Tribune's Best of the Year
Boston Globe's Best of the Year
BookPage's Best of the Year
Publishers Weekly's Best of the Year
School Library Journal's Best of the Year
Kirkus Reviews' Best of the Year
Bank Street's Best of the Year
Chicago Public Library's Best of the Best
New York Public Library Best of the Year

From Pura Belpré Honor-winner Donna Barba Higuera-a brilliant journey through the stars, to the very heart of what makes us human.

"Gripping in its twists and turns, and moving in its themes – truly a beautiful cuento."-New York Times

"Clever and compelling . wonderfully subversive."-The Wall Street Journal

★ "This tale packs a wallop. Exquisite."-Kirkus Reviews (starred)

★ "Gripping, euphonious, and full of storytelling magic."-Publishers Weekly (starred)

★ "A strong, heroic character, fighting incredible odds to survive and protect others."-School Library Journal (starred)

Había una vez . . .

There lived a girl named Petra Peña, who wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita.

But Petra's world is ending. Earth has been destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children – among them Petra and her family – have been chosen to journey to a new planet. They are the ones who must carry on the human race.

Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet – and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. A sinister Collective has taken over the ship during its journey, bent on erasing the sins of humanity's past. They have systematically purged the memories of all aboard – or purged them altogether.

Petra alone now carries the stories of our past, and with them, any hope for our future. Can she make them live again?

Editorial Reviews

[STAR] "Pura Belpré Honor-winning author Donna Barba Higuera (Lupe Wong Won't Dance) deftly blends Mexican folklore with science fiction in this thrilling and emotional post-apocalyptic novel."-Shelf-Awareness (starred),

"The brilliance of Higuera's narrative is that it shows rather than tells us the power of story. As Petra shares her tales and they guide her shipmates out of darkness, readers will find corners of their own hearts illuminated as well. This book is gripping in its twists and turns, and moving in its themes - truly a beautiful cuento." - New York Times,

"Clever and compelling . wonderfully subversive." - The Wall Street Journal,

"The Last Cuentista is heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once, and centers family, community, and the oral histories that keep us together.",

[STAR] "A strong, heroic character, fighting incredible odds to survive and protect others."- School Library Journal (starred),

[STAR] "Gripping, euphonious, and full of storytelling magic."- Publishers Weekly (starred),

[STAR] "Higuera spins a tale that crosses the depths of space, interweaving Mexican folklore with a mystical strand of science fiction."- Kirkus (starred),

"Readers will find in The Last Cuentista a promise that the past is not the enemy of the future, but a gift that grants the perspective to meet that future with compassion and bravery." - Bookpage,

Readers Top Reviews

Kelly A Van KirkLady
This is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. It spoke to my story-loving heart and reminded me of the importance of stories. I didn’t want it to end! But isn’t that just it? It won’t end because every reader will carry it in their heart forever.
Betsy Bird
Just a warning that this review is chock full of spoilers. If that matters to you, you may wish to skip it. The worst thing you can do to your dystopia is to let it grow stale. After all, the true joy of science fiction is its capacity for variety. Say the term “science fiction” and it conjures up images of robots and space rockets and the like. All fine and good things but the whole point of the genre is to think up things that could be. And what could be is infinite. That’s why it’s so silly when science fiction books for kids get all samey. The sky’s the limit (a silly phrase in this case since a lot of these books go far beyond the sky but you get what I’m saying). We’ve seen recent strides in middle grade science fiction stories that include non-binary or queer characters, and more than a few have intersectional leanings (the Yoon Ha Lee’s Dragon Pearl comes immediately to mind). All this is to say that I probably should have been ready for the conjurings out of the brain of Donna Barba Higuera in The Last Cuentista but there’s something to be said for pleasant surprises too. A delicious mix of dystopian fiction, Mexican folklore, and good old-fashioned high drama, this is the kind of science fiction that has the potential to lure in even those people that don’t usually indulge in futuristic fantastical imaginings. Halley’s Comet, man. Who knew it would spell the end of Earth? But when its trajectory got knocked off-course, it ended up headed straight for our planet. Now only three ships holding a scant couple thousand people on each will contain the last of humanity. They’re heading to Sagan, a planet that should be able to support life. The catch? It’ll take three hundred and eighty years to get there. Petra, her little brother Javier, and her mom and dad are some of the lucky ones. They’ll be put to sleep the whole time with recordings connected directly to their brains to teach them everything they’ll need to know when they arrive. But Petra doesn’t want to be a scientist like her parents. She loves her grandmother’s folktales and yearns to be a storyteller too. She expects she’ll be given them to listen to and then arrive into the future full of stories. What she doesn’t expect is that in the intervening three hundred some years a revolution will occur amongst the awake Monitors that are supposed to tend to the sleeping passengers. When she resurfaces, Petra will find that she’s perhaps the only person on the ship with memories of Earth. Because now the ones in charge are people with genetically enhanced transparent skin. People with a singular mind. People who would do anything to keep the knowledge Petra has from getting out. Stephen King once wrote a truly horrifying short story about space travel and a family having to be put asleep for the trip called “The Jaunt”. I guess it affected me more than I thought, pa...
Maria Baquerizo
I finished reading it within 5 days !!! Couldn’t keep my hands out of it Un cuento que vale la pena leer :)
Amy M C
4.5 stars I have not read sci-if in a while but this was absolutely perfect. Wonderful story. I had no ideas what I was getting into. Made me misty a few times but I loved it.
Mr Kaiju
The Last Cuentista is the rare book that completely entertains, while getting across its theme, that stories are so important because they are the DNA of our culture. It’s classified as MIddle Grade Sci-fi, but it’s SO much more than that. This is a book you can give to any reader of any age and they will find something in it that speaks to them. I can’t wait to read more from this author.

Featured Video