Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

ublisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd
Where did you get the book: Purchased
Release date: Out now

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.

HEATheir 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.

*blurb taken from Goodreads*

While I was away, it took me by complete surprise that the release for Isla occurred last week. It totally flew past me so I made sure I rectified that mistake by purchasing Isla asap, and by reading the book in one entire evening.

Zombie tired Lou is zombie tired.

But I’m writing this review because I feel bittersweet about the trilogy ending. I’m so happy it’s concluded but I’m sad it’s finished. I know. Contrary as fuck, right? Stephanie Perkins is one of my favourite YA authors. To me she’s one of the brightest and most talented authors to emerge on the contemporary YA scene in some years. There’s something about her writing that leaves you addicted and wanting to come back for more and more. Anna and the French Kiss is one of my favourite novels. Lola I liked but I didn’t love. Isla I really enjoyed but I had issues with the second part of the book. So despite the issues I have, I’ll still automatically buy the next Perkins book, no matter the price.

I want to talk first about what I loved about Isla. Brie from Romance Around the Corner was on the money when she said the first half of the book was really cute. Isla and Josh were cute, and their flirtations and burgeoning romance was sweet and a little magical. I love the unrequited crush/love trope and Perkins described that initial butterfly feelings perfectly when you realise your crush likes you back. Perkins also did a great job in building up those small, but very important moments that’s called tension. Isla was always aware when Josh was in the room. She was aware when his eyes were on her and the stolen moments of eye connection between the two was just adorable.

Isla and Josh were likeable characters, and they were unique in their personalities–though at times Isla wasn’t as firm as a character compared to Josh. Isla was sweet and quiet but wasn’t a shy wallflower when it came to interacting with people she knew and liked, which wasn’t very many. Josh felt more cemented to me; his character and personality came across strong and I loved some of his artistic scenes, especially when he drew on Isla’s body. Perkins does write beautiful scenes, and she goes the extra mile in describing the surroundings around her in detail–but not too much detail that makes you want to snore.

Isla and Josh’s romance is sweet and runs along smoothly until the second half of the book, and this is where I didn’t love the book so much. I don’t know if I’ve gotten so used to reading NA but teenage angst and tantrums came along and I found myself shying away a little. Isla and Josh were forced to separate, and this is where I found some of their actions became a little immature. Isla becomes this wreck of a girl who was miserable and Josh becomes melodramatic. Cries of I loves Yous cry out and I must admit, my eyes rolled a little. The separation and then the other separation felt forced and it didn’t feel natural to me. It seemed the romance built up to a point and then boom, the second half of the book became a whirlwind of teenager angst with Isla being angry at everyone, and then making a decision about Josh that was more about her own insecurities, which also didn’t feel natural, that left me disappointed. It was a completely different tone and feel to the first half.

Then they reunite very quickly and once again, everything is happily ever after. I don’t believe in their relationship of HEA because instead of it building up, it broke off halfway and all the angst got in the way. It felt too much like a kid’s crush turning into I Love You’s which didn’t really leave me believing in their true love. It’s a shame because the first half of the book was adorable, and is the best part. It was great seeing glimpses of Anna and St Clair again, though I felt one aspect felt too much like a bow and ribbon on-top of the HEA.

All in All, I did enjoy Isla but the second half of the book left me edging backwards because of the forced angst. I would definitely recommend reading this book if you’ve read the other two but still, by far, Anna and the French Kiss is Perkin’s best work to date.

I give Isla and the Happily Ever After a C+.

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