Mar 23, 2015

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

TitleIsla and the Happily Ever After
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton
Publishing Date: August 14, 2014
Pages/Format: 352, Hardcover
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Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, √Čtienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

Book in One Word: Fantasmical.

I put off reading this. I almost didn't preorder it--partially because I don't tend to buy signed books because I like to get them signed myself, and preorders came signed (also, I really, really wish this cover matched the originals of the first two books)--but then a localish bookstore was giving away the tote bags and I wanted one. So I preordered it. Then in August I got it. Aaand I didn't end up reading it until just before the year ended. (And I'm writing my review three months after finishing it!) I think I was afraid that Isla and the Happily Ever After would be better than Anna and the French Kiss, and I didn't want that. I didn't wanna Anna trumped, and I'd heard interesting things about Isla (like how it's kinda sad), and I just put it off. But then I said screw it and finally read it, and seriously, why did I take so long to read this damn book?

One of my favorite things about Isla and the Happily Ever After is that it shows how versatile Stephanie Perkins is. Anna and the French Kiss was super duper fluffy to the point that I pretty much (still, years later) can't even, Lola and the Boy Next Door was still fluffy but a bit more quirky, and Isla's a total 360. (I might be spoiling how the relationships work in these books, so if you don't want to know that skip to the next paragraph.) Anna and Lola had...well, I don't know that they really felt like slow burns, but they were big on sexual tension and keeping the characters from kissing until basically the end of the books. (THANKS, STEPHANIE.) But in Isla, the relationship progresses so, so much faster and it's deeper and steamier and goes further than the other two books did--it's almost toxic, but not in a bad way. And this isn't a complaint--again, I love how it shows how versatile Perkins is in her writing and how she can write different characters with different voices. (Is she still writing a slasher novel? Because holy shit.)

Isla and the Happily Ever After is, of course, about Isla. (Which I incorrectly pronounce "IS-LUH.") If you remember, we saw a teeny, tiny snippet of Isla in Anna--I think she commented on Josh to Anna. And lo and behold, the love interest and her crush of galactic, mega proportions is Josh. (I dub their ship name ISSH, and Vance Joy's "Mess is Mine" could totally be about them.) Isla is a somewhat insecure and shy girl who mainly hangs out with her best friend Kurt (though their friendship may seem like more and it's not), who has a mild form of autism (I think). Josh kind of keeps to himself, skipping school and immersing himself in his art and the graphic, no holds barred comic he's writing about his life. But the two have a little run-in in New York, and then they find each other back at school in Paris (ooh la la), and then...they explode. (Note: I was originally kind of bummed that the love interest was Josh--who has one of my favorite lines/parts in Anna, "Whyareyougivingawaythecookies?"--because I was so used to Josh and Rashmi, but in this book, I kind of forgot about her, so sorry not sorry, Rashmi.)

This book is a mixture of grit, fluff, steam, and emotion. (Sounds like the recipe for the next Powerpuff girls--Anna, Lola, and Isla!) Isla and the Happily Ever After ups the ante in this set of fantastic contemporary novels from Stephanie Perkins, and it does not disappoint. It has so many aspects going for it and that makes it hard not to love. It's a romance--my gosh, it's a romance--but it's also so much more than that, and if you haven't read this book, or Anna or Lola, please do so now. They're wonderful. Isla and the Happily Ever After introduces new characters and gives us a snippet of some of the old ones we know and love, and ONE OF THE BEST THINGS TO HAPPEN IN A BOOK EVER happens, so there's that. What started out with a book that I thought had a cheesy cover and sounded like a Lifetime movie ended up being a set of three books that are some of the best contemporaries I've ever read and are definite favorites. The wait for this book was long, but it was worth it. And Isla and the Happily Ever After just made the series even better. But Anna and the French Kiss is still, and always will be, my favorite. (And that's totally okay.)

Did I like it? Yes!
Did I love it? Yes!
Would I reread it? Yes!
Would I purchase it? I preordered it, and I have to copies, and it's one of those books that's kind of precious.
Who would I recommend it to? Everyone. Absolutely everyone. This book is good, this series is fantastic--read it.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this book too!! I really liked when they went to Spain, even though it ended up being kind of a bad thing, I just loved their adventure walking around there and how it was described. You are so right about Lola and Anna's relationship being a build-up and Isla's being more of about the actual relationship. Maybe that's why I liked Anna and Lola better than Isla?? Not that I didn't love the book, I just felt more excited about Lola and Cricket getting together than whether Josh and Isla were going to figure things out. Great review!! Glad you finally read it!


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