Thursday, August 28, 2014

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

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Series: Anna and the French Kiss (Book #3) but can be read as a standalone
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: 14 August 2014
Read Date: 23 August 2014
Tagged under: 2014 read, 2014 favourites, contemporary, YA-fiction, romance, 4
Buy at: Amazon, The Book Depository

Loves 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-favourites Anna, Etienne, 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' beloved series. 

Book Review [Sorta spoilery for the first two books. Though again, so is the blurb]

After my sneak preview of Isla and the Happily Ever After, I simply couldn't wait to grab the actual book and read it when it came out. It is so adorable and cute that I want to hug it like a teddy bear. However, I did have to stop myself from giving this book an automatic 4.5 or 5 stars and after some serious consideration, lowered it to a 4.

If you are a fan of Anna and the French Kiss (see my review here) and Lola and the Boy Next Door, then undoubtedly you're already on the ship wagon of delighted readers who are ecstatic that the final book in the series, Isla and the Happily Ever After is finally out. For those who are unfamiliar with the series, you should ideally read the first book in this series although really, these books can be read as standalones.

Isla and the Happily Ever After very much follows the same vein of romance. If you want to rank all three books on a scale of cuteness, Isla would top that scale. It's cuteness personified whilst hyped up on sugar. Josh and Isla, *sigh*, they give me so much happiness and joy and makes me feel all gooey inside while reading this book. 

And the ending scenes, *cue fangirl squealing*

Like I mentioned in my thoughts about the sneak preview, once again, Stephanie Perkins' creation of wonderfully three-dimensional characters shines through. Both characters are so relateable and real - I fell in love with them both instantly. Another highlight of these novels is that Perkins always highlights the locations each of the story is set in. All the cities are described in detail, which really helps me orient myself in the story.

However, what stopped me from giving this book as high of a rating as Anna and the French Kiss (or even a full five star)? The chemistry between Josh and Isla felt too contrived in the beginning. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adored the two of them together but I couldn't help but feel the way they got together too quick, too sudden and too forced. The sense of "instant love" is kind of grating.

The other thing that sort of detracted from the story, for me at least, was the cameos from the characters from the previous volumes. Now, I know some people out there would have loved those cameos but for me, they just didn't work. I enjoyed how Anna and Etienne appeared in Lola. And that, for me, is a perfect cameo - they were there so the reader could see how they are now but they weren't so front and centre that they took the attention away from the main couple nor were they so randomly placed that the cameo felt forced. However, in Isla, I couldn't help but feel a twinge (mind you, just a twinge) of both of those feelings when the previous characters made their cameo. 

Overall: 4/5

Sorry if this review feels like it's a barrage of criticism. I guess I felt compelled to point out why I didn't give this book a higher rating. Overall, I really did enjoy this book and I feel this series may be one of my favourites this year. They definitely come highly recommended.

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