Monday, 1 September 2014

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

"The cafe 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." (synopsis from (x)

The time has come, my friends. Isla and the Happily Ever After has finally been released (or, more rather, it finally arrived), and I am here to review it for you.

The first thing you'll notice about this book is that it is different to Anna and Lola. It's different in main character, in tone, in plot. Do not go into this novel expecting something similar to the prior two books. It isn't.

But I think it works.

The things I liked: the characters. This is a no-brainer, because Stephanie Perkins does character and she does it really, really well. Both Josh and Isla become multi-faceted and we see both the flaws and virtues of their characters develop throughout the novel.

I'll start with Isla. Islaislaisla. She's the main character in this little happily ever after (see what I did there?). I don't know why, but I have an unusually high affinity for this girl. This doesn't happen a lot for me. The last time I understood and felt for a character so wholly was Allyson from Just One Day. And no, it's not just because she's a redhead and I'm a redhead. Isla feels like a representation of a younger high-school-attending me.

Where Anna and Lola are sure of who they are as people, and where they want to go in life, Isla is different. She has insecurities - big ones. She's terrified of the future, because she doesn't know where she's going. She's shy. She doesn't like taking risks. Isla got to me in a way I never expected. I loved her (but I was also a little freaked out because I was so similar to her, it's scary).

Josh. Josh made me want a boyfriend. No, let me rephrase that (because let's be real here, I'm always wanting a boyfriend). Josh has made me rethink my stance of being on Team Cricket. I really liked that we got to see a different side to him in Isla. He is adorable. Now, I'm torn between the two, so poo you.

The two together were adorable. Very often, I found myself thinking 'Oh my gosh, you nerds. Stop it, I love you.' There are just a lot of very sweet moments in this book. Another way this book is different? There are some more explicit moments, so you know. Be aware of that. Because it took me by surprise.

Setting, as always, was done to perfection. I loved being back in Paris, and loved being (however briefly) in Barcelona even more. I wished we'd seen more of New York, but obviously, Europe was the place to be.

My main problem with the novel was the placement of conflict. Like I've mentioned a lot, Perkins doesn't keep to the similar formula she uses in Anna and Lola. It sent me into a bit of a loop. Why? Because instead of being one of the first things we're introduced to, it doesn't become a *thing* until we're on the other side of the halfway mark.

I guess it'd be easy to argue that Isla's insecurities are in fact, the conflict, but they're not really present until the *big thing* happens. But because of this, it felt like there wasn't actually much of a conflict. It isn't a huge issue, it's just messing with my mind a bit.

We do get to see some of Cricket and Lola, and Anna and Etienne. However, it is very, very brief. And something happens. But I'm not saying what, because that would be cheating.

Overall, a very sweet final companion novel. Isla, I love. Josh, I love. Conflict placement, not so much. 4 stars.

Rating: **** (4 Stars)
Publisher: Usborne 
Publication Date: 14th August 2014 (or, if you're from Australia, sometime in September)

Want to buy it? You can get it here:
Book Depository | Fishpond | Bookworld | Amazon

This review will also appear on Book Nerd Reviews.

1 comment:

  1. The thing you won't mention as that would be cheating - it actually made me cry because of how much it meant to me oh gosh. Isla made me really happy and I loved that it was different - you're right about it being the perfect companion novel :) (so much squeeing occurred in this novel for me).