Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins.


Product details:
Publisher: Usborne.
Paperback, 375 pages.
Release date: August 14th 2014.
Rating: 4½ out of 5.
Ages: 14+
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #3.
Other Books in Series: Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door.
Overall Series Rating: 4 out of 5.
Source: Purchased.

 The café is boiling. The atmosphere is clouded with bittersweet coffee.
Three years of desire rip through my body and burst from my lips: “Josh!”
His head jolts up. For a long time, a very long time, he just stares at me.
And then…he blinks. “Isla?”

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.

Anna and Etienne were friends who flirted in Paris, while in San Francisco Lola fell in love with the boy next door. Isla and the Happily Ever after opens on a rainy night in Manhattan where fate and dentistry (yes, dentistry!) conspire to bring Isla and her crush –mysterious, enigmatic – Josh, together. Isla is in love, completely and utterly, heels- over-heels-in-totally-smitten love with Josh. Her crush is years long, but never acted upon, mainly because of Josh’s long-term relationship with now ex-girlfriend Rashmi, but also because Isla could never bring herself to actually speak to her crush. Until now. With the help of some strong (totally legal) drugs, Isla transforms. And she just can’t stop talking to Josh whom she encounters randomly in a late-night café where he’s drawing in his sketch-pad, just being his usual artist self. And he’s cute. He’s so cute. It’s got to be fate, right? Everything is going to be perfect. Because Josh and Isla, they fit just right.

 Ah, this book. I have waited and waited for this book. I have wished for it and hoped for it and counted down the days to its arrival. Oftentimes when a book is as anticipated (hyped) as Isla and the Happily Ever After, I feel for both book and author. How can a book ever live up to such hype? All too often books don’t. But not this one. This one lives up to the hype. It more than lives up to the hype. Isla and the Happily Ever After, is, in a word, wonderful. In fact, ISLA, the third and (sadly) final instalment in Stephanie Perkins Anna and the French Kiss trio, is all kinds of wonderful. It’s no secret that Lola and the Boy Next Door wasn’t a huge favourite of mine – that I never full connected with the characters – but that certainly wasn’t the case here. The characters in Isla and the Happily Ever After totally worked for me, and like a warm hug from an old friend, this book, every page of it, felt like coming home.

 But, of course, it can’t all be sunshine and roses, right? The course of true love never did run smooth, and It’s safe to say that Isla and Josh hit all kind of bumps on the road to their happily ever after, including but not confined to long-distance separation, phone-confiscation, parental interference, expulsion, insecurity, lack of confidence, petty jealousies, miscommunication – you know, all the usual suspects and then some. To me, Isla and Josh’s relationship read very real – I’ve heard some people say that it moved too fast (in Barcelona!), but it didn’t feel like that to me – and, in fact, it was Isla’s reaction to the relationship that made me really relate to her character in a way that I never related to Anna (very confident) or Lola (very quirky). Isla, in many ways, is an every girl, and like every girl, or maybe just some girls, once she gets what she wants, she starts to question her good fortune: or maybe she just questions herself. Thankfully, she has a good friend in Kurt Donald Cobain Bacon (his actual name) to listen to her fears and give her a shoulder to cry on.

 I love the attention to detail in Stephanie Perkins novels; the little character quirks, the importance of names and their meanings and how they can make a person and shape a person. I LOVE her boys. Okay, so just like Lola, I didn’t quite connect to Cricket, but I had a total crush on Etienne. And I pretty much fell for Josh too. Josh is the guy I’d fall for in real life –not Etienne. (Shocking, I know, but I’ve always had a thing for arty types.) Josh is crush worthy, sure, but he’s also written as a pretty real teenage boy, and while there’s a whole lot appealing about Josh, he also messes up; sometimes he doesn’t think things through – and sometimes he gets lost in his artist bubble which causes him to make a faux pas or two. (Yep, I’m talking rabbits! Oh, those rabbits!) Overall, though, Josh is a good guy – the thoughtful, sensitive (and also really good-looking) type. The kind of guy a girl could easily fall in love with. 

 Isla is the perfect conclusion to a wonderful series, but I feel like the series could totally continue, you know? What about another book with Meredith in Rome? That would totally work. I mean, Rome! How could it not work? Before I go, I have to mention those characters of old. Yes, St. Clair and Anna are here, and yes, Lola and Cricket too. Perkins has some surprises in store for her readers, and, as always with her books, this one made me smile throughout. Stephanie Perkins writes totally happy-making books.

 So, was Isla worth the wait? Do you really have to ask?! I loved this book. Loved it.

 ISLA gets a 4.5 from me – and it was almost a perfect five star read – but I enjoyed ANNA just a little bit more, and it’s still my favourite of the series, so that’s the explanation for the missing .5. That said, Isla is still one of my favourites of 2014. I just want to read it over and over again.

16 comments :

  1. I'm so glad this book lived up to your expectations! I'm really looking forward to finally reading it as well.

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  2. I loved this one and agree completely with your review. It didn't move too fast to me. All three books are picture perfect examples of what contemporary YA should be!

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  3. Katherine @ Neon Yeti Reads4 September 2014 at 00:11

    I was a little disappointed with this one because it wasn't the same as Anna and Lola. Isla also seemed a little immature. I'm glad you enjoyed it though!

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  4. Frannie Panglossa4 September 2014 at 17:19

    I really really want to read this and I'ms o glad you liked it!
    I loved the others' Stephanie Perkins' books and I can't wait to meet Isla and Josh! :D

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  5. Yes! I wish she'd continue this series. I think Meredith in Rome is a really good idea! :) It didn't move too fast for me either - but I've heard other people say that.

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  6. Sorry it didn't work out for you. I was a little disappointed in Lola after Anna - but I really enjoyed this one. :)

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  7. Hope you love it, Frannie. It's definitely a new favourite of mine! :)

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  8. Frannie Panglossa4 September 2014 at 19:33

    Though I must say that for me it's gonna be pretty hard to top Cricket :P

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  9. You'll have to let me know what you think of Josh, then! :)

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  10. ChristinaBookAddict4 September 2014 at 23:51

    Ahhh! Such an outstanding review! I need to buy a copy of this book…probably yesterday. I am relieved that you enjoyed this novel and Josh definitely sounds crush worthy. I wish Stephanie Perkins would continue with this series…it's just sooo good! I have both Anna and Lola on my "favorites" shelf.

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  11. Liz @ Planet Print5 September 2014 at 00:00

    This book was so cute! I'm the same as you, Anna is my favourite, and I wasn't a massive fan of Lola. I did enjoy Isla but felt maybe it was a bit more rushed/dramatic than the others? But it was so fun and adorable overall. Great review! :)

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  12. Frannie Panglossa5 September 2014 at 16:19

    WIll do!! ;)

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  13. I'm still listening to it. It's adorably cute and I love both Isla and Josh. I'm so thankfully that the storyline is different this time as I really didn't want another one person already dating someone else plot. And I adore that we are back in Paris for this one.
    I love Stephanie Perkins characters (ok especially the boys!) but all her couples are just so right together.
    Great review Leanne.

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  14. Anna is a huge favourite of mine - not so much Lola - but I loved this one! I hear Perkins is writing horror next. I wonder if you'll check that one out?! ;)

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  15. Anna is still my fave too - there's something special about that one! :)

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  16. Thanks, Trish! Yes, I thought this one was very cute too. And I also love the boys in these books! ;)

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