New Release Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla Happily Ever AfterIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: August 14, 2014
Publisher: Dutton
(Hardcover Purchased through Amazon.com)
 
 

Synopsis from Goodreads: Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on brooding artist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And, after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer break, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to face uncertainty about their futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Set against the stunning backdrops of New York, Paris and Barcelona, this is a gorgeous, heart-wrenching and irresistible story of true love, and the perfect conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

Wendy’s Review – 4.5 Skulls – A

I have been awaiting this book for a very long time.  Anna and the French Kiss was released in December of 2010, and then Lola and the Boy Next Door was released in 2011, but the wait for Isla just kept getting pushed back year after year.  I was patient.  I am always patient.  I read many series books (or have followed in the past) that take much longer than 3 years for a book to release, so while I was eager I was also trusting that it meant that we’d get a really great book.

I mostly wasn’t disappointed.  I know that didn’t sound super enthused, but it’s the truth.  If I hadn’t started Isla and the Happily Ever After during the work week I absolutely would have finished it in one day, just as I did Anna and Lola, because they’re just that type of book.  Each chapter bleeds into the next, forcing you to read more and more until the book just finishes before you know it.  I would have done the same with Isla’s story, if not for that pesky thing that adults have hanging around their necks called responsibility.  As it was I did stay up until midnight to finish it last night.   I plowed through it in just two evenings, meaning after 5pm when I wasn’t working.

What made me the most excited for this final installment were the two characters that were its focus.  Isla and Josh.  Anna and Etienne in the first book were great characters, but Anna was bold and Etienne was outgoing.  They were two nice, charming, beautiful people who weren’t afraid to attack life.  Generally anyway, when you strip away the angst that drove the book.  Then, in the second book you got Lola and Cricket.  They were bright and strange characters, and they were so much fun to read.  I didn’t see myself in them at all.  This is not a complaint or a critique, because I feel pretty confident that we all read and love stories about people who are not like ourselves.  It’s part of the fun of reading.  However, there is something to be said for reading a book about someone who reminds you of yourself.  Isla was shy, painfully so, like me.  I like reading about characters like me.  I think it has something to do with self-reflection.  I learn lessons from them that help me.  Then Josh!  Well come on, guys!  Artistic, brooding, tall but leanly muscled, slightly a bad boy… check, check, check, cheeeck.  Of all of the men in these books, he would most definitely have been the one I crushed on.

Am I rambling?  I think I’m rambling now.  I’ll get to the point.

I really really liked this book.  I swooned, I giggled, I sighed.  There were just a couple of things that maybe annoyed me just a tad.

First, what is the point of your child going to school in Paris if you’re not okay with them actually having adventures?  Look, I know that not all High Schoolers are trustworthy, especially when they’re so young.  However, when you’re halfway through your senior year, and months away from your 18th birthday, what is the harm in taking an overnight trip to another international location nearby?  Even if it is with your boyfriend?  They’re safe, they’re mature… lighten up.  It’s called making memories that last a lifetime.  It’s not sneaking out their bedroom window to go make out in some slummy basement.  Jeez.

Second, and just as a reminder I am harder on female protagonists (I can not stand irrational girls),  there’s this section where Isla loses her mind.  Seriously.  And the whole time I was very angry.  Angry at the world, at the author, at the characters… why do such crappy stuff to people you say you love?!  Buuuut, as the story wound to a close I started to understand.  Maybe, surprisingly, Isla isn’t alllll that much like me.  We have a few things similar, but who we are at our core and how we cope are nearly opposite.  It didn’t stop me from finally understanding that people handle their insecurities differently.  Some bottle them up, like me, and some lash out.  It led to reflection… hey, didn’t I just mention reflection up there in this review somewhere… and to a character making some pretty gutsy and out of character decisions that I loved.  So, I came to terms and I am no longer angry.

All in all, it was great.  It was romantic.  It was funny.  I’m happy that the wait is over, but sad that means The End.

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

Best of YA Romance

Series Reading Order:

1. Anna and the French Kiss
2. Lola and the Boy Next Door
3. Isla and the Happily Ever After

 

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