Monday, 18 August 2014
Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Publication Date: August 14th, 2014
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #3
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From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.
Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.
Like the rest of the world it feels like I've been waiting ten years to get my hands on Isla. Finally I got my grabby little hands on it and devoured it in one sitting. As expected Isla and the Happily Ever After is super adorable and cute. Our favourite previous characters make an appearance and my life starts to make sense again. I'm really hoping Perkins is going to realize how much she wants to write more about these characters and give us a whole new book with all six of them going on an adventure together. Now that would be perfection!
The book starts off right on a bang. Isla runs into Josh at a coffee shop, but the kicker is Isla is high on painkillers and it's absolutely hilarious. I'm thinking great, this book is going to be romantic and funny. Isla is going to be this unintentionally funny girl. But unfortunately the beginning of the book really left me with the wrong impression. Now don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed and devoured Isla and the Happily Ever After. There was a lot right about the book but it was no where near the level of Anna and Lola for me. I really loved that we got Isla and Josh's relationship started pretty quickly. To many YA contemporaries are all about the foreplay and than as soon as the couple finally gets together we're at the last page of the book. I effing hate that! I just didn't swoon over Isla and Josh like I did with Anna and St.Clair and Lola and Cricket. Isla's pretty much been in love with Josh for three years. But that's all been from afar. And it was a little uncomfortable watching Isla pine for Josh, even when they were together. Than it just jumps into total insta-love territory and I was left wondering why Josh feel in love with Isla so quickly. I have no idea why Josh is having these feelings for Isla. He's not very vocal beyond his desires to get in her pants. Okay, there is definitely some swoony moments between them. Like Barcelona. *sigh* But I wanted more. I wanted to know why Josh was falling head over heels for Isla. I wanted him to tell her in words. I wanted Isla to realize that she's no longer in a one-way relationship with Josh. She actually has him and she needed to stop the unhealthy obsessing and jealousy. They just didn't talk to each other. I don't like feeling frustrated over a conflict in a book that can be so easily fixed by opening your mouth and actually talking to the person about it. Why keep it all so secretive? You're in a relationship, so talk about your damn feelings with each other. And if you can't, than you're to immature to be in a relationship. Grow up and deal with grown up feelings like a grown up! Obviously I was feeling a bunch of frustration. To much...
Like I mentioned, Isla started off super funny. Yes, she was technically high. But I'm thinking she's going to be this loopy, nerdy and shy girl. But she'll totally steal it with her independence and brilliance. Sure, she was totally like that at moments. But once Josh was a permanent fixture in Isla's life she kind of became this wet blanket that didn't know who she was except that she knew she had to do everything to keep Josh. That was a little disheartening. I needed Isla to be herself, so Josh could fall in love with this amazing person. But she was so unsure of herself and how Josh could love someone like her. I wasn't expecting that. I didn't get that with Anna and Lola and I know it may be unfair to say, because they are all very different characters, but I expected just so much cuteness with some small little blips along the way.
We kind of got to know Josh in Anna and the French Kiss and I was super excited to get to know him even more that he was going to be the romantic interest. But I don't know, I didn't really feel like I got to know him all that much better. He was still kind of a mystery. I wanted more from him. I really liked the Josh I got. Why couldn't we get more beyond his art? It's weird, I got to know him, but I didn't really now that I think about it. I don't know if that makes sense.
I was also a little disappointed that we didn't get to fall in love with Paris all over again. In Anna it was this amazing secondary character. It's one of the big reasons why I love Anna so much. It was kind of forgotten in Isla though. That made me really sad.
What I lived for though was the moment when I knew I would get to see all the old gang again. And that was definitely the best part of the book. I wanted it to last longer than a few pages. I needed it to. But alas this wasn't their book. Anna and Lola already had their turns. But guys, those few pages are pure bliss. You'll sigh and laugh and smile your face off. God, it was fantastic!
I know this review makes it seem like my rating of the book is totally not making sense. But I assure you I absolutely enjoyed Isla and the Happily Ever After. Perkins doesn't shy away from writing about normal teenage behavior, like sex. Or bringing in a character with difficult social skills(I loved Kurt). She writes everything in a totally realistic and believable way. Dialogue isn't forced. It's so easy. I love her story telling. I love that I could pick up Anna, Lola or Isla and have a total lift in my mood. I love that I can depend on Perkins for that.