Tuesday, November 11, 2014

[Review] Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

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Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 14/09/2014
Publisher: Dutton
Pages: 352
Source: Bought
Genre: YA (14+) - Contemporary

Violence | Sexual ContentProfanity

Book Tunes
Christina Perri - Arms

My Rating: 

Feel good read

My thoughts

Let me preface this review by saying that I am madly in love with Stephanie Perkin and her previous books (Anna and Lola!). Her stories and characters are so incredibly realistic, fun and interesting. You can't help feeling happy reading her books. In the case of Isla and the Happily Ever After... I'm not sure if it's just a personal thing (where I am compared to where I was back when I read her previous novels), but there was just too much of it. It was too cutesy, too happy, too easy. Instead of feeling excited to continue reading I was groaning and waiting for the agony to end.

The first 150~ pages is practically a recount of Isla and her mad love affair with the dreamy, swoony, perfectly gorgeous bad boy artist with whom she had been crushing on for the past three years--turns out he has been crushing on her all this time, too! It was just... too sweet for me to swallow. But afterwards there was actually some substance and STORY and now my feelings for this book as a whole is a jumbled mess. On the one hand I love where the story ends, but the beginning was such a struggle to get through. It pains me to even say this about Isla. All things considered, I am glad that this book exists and I applaud Perkins for finishing all of their stories. :)

Isla and the Happily Ever After follows Isla, an introverted and ordinary teenage girl, as she falls deeper and deeper in love with her "the one", an artistic and attractive guy by the name of Josh, one year her senior. During the summer holidays off SOAP, they meet up in Manhatten through a chance encounter. She's doped up on happy gas fresh from the dentist and in a moment of madness/bravery she asks him to draw her... and the rest is history. The problem is that Josh is trouble... and his parents...

I love that Perkins discusses the future. For teenagers it's such an important issue. Many people have no idea what they want to do after school, while some, like Josh, have it all planned out. Isla has no idea
what the future holds for her, where she wants to go, who she wants to be. Perkins allows this issue to be contemplated by the reader.

As for the characters, Josh is an interesting character. He reminds me somewhat of Logan from Gilmore Girls (who I despised).
But anyway. Josh's parents are the rich but absent type; he is never left wanting for anything... except for their attention. He's artistic and a romantic and idealistic and reckless and he's got big things coming for him in the future. I do feel like he's a little bit too wish-fulfillment-y. (But I'm okay with that.) Then there's Isla. On the one hand, I can empathise with her: I think everyone can. We all have insecurities, and sometimes we may feel like we aren't deserving of love... for whatever reason. She's also really unsure of herself and of her future, she hasn't really got it all figured out. Yet again, something that lots of teens would be able to relate to. I think my problem is in her development. I don't quite BELIEVE it. It all just kind of happens too quickly so the resolution doesn't feel that genuine to me. It's beautiful, just very idealistic and a bit rushed. Thinking back, I can't really pinpoint anything specific or special about Isla, so if that bothers you it might be a bit of a struggle finishing this book.Isla and Kurt. Their friendship is so beautiful. I wish I had that kind of strictly platonic friendship with a guy where we could sleep together and it wouldn't be weird or out of the normal at all. Kurt is a great support character for Isla... while he does have a few character traits of his own he really gets pushed to the sidelines (since it's written in Isla's perspective). I wish we could have known more about Kurt and his side of the story. (Idea for a short story in his POV, Stephanie?)

Lastly, there's the development of the sisterly relationship between Isla and her younger sister, Hattie. Hattie is reckless and loud and bold and abrasive and seems to deeply dislike Isla. I actually liked Hattie by the end, you see there's more to their relationship and to her than first thought. I love when family, especially among siblings, is an aspect of the story. I think Perkins explored their story well and I liked where they ended up. Yay for resolution! :D

And lastly (for real), I need to briefly mention the characters from previous novels. You know: Anna, St Clair, Lola, Cricket, Meredith. In this one they don't really bear too much significance, other than to shake Isla by reminding her that Josh has this whole other life with these friends that she knows next to nothing about, has barely seen besides a short encounter or two and the portraits that surrounded Josh's dorm room. They have that same warm dynamic and it's just nice to find where they've all ended up.

So I did enjoy this book, but I can't say that it was my favourite. There was still a lot of charm in this book, but Anna and Lola did it better.


First line: It's midnight, it's sweltering, and I might be high on Vicodin, but that guy--that guy right over him--that's him.
The him.


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I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

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