Title: Isla and the Happily Ever After
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Genre: YA Fiction, New Adult Fiction, Romance, Realistic
Note: I did read Isla first, but I do intend to read Anna and Lola soon. I didn’t see them at the library that day, so I got only Isla.
Premise: This book is about Isla a rich girl living in a boarding school in France. Paris, France to be exact. She has a major crush on brooding artist ‘hottie’ Josh. Sadly, though, she has had limited interactions with him. Until she ends up in his room. Until she ends up talking to him in the United States over the summer.
Things just go uphill from there.
Plot: To me, this plot could have been better. We start out in one place, the United States. And we jump from there to Paris. And jump back and forth, back and forth. Truth be told, I got dizzy. If there wasn’t anything about the Eiffel Tower or any Paris sites, I might have forgotten they were there at all. To me, this book could have been better.
We start out with a stalker-ish girl who has an immense crush on a guy who doesn’t notice her. Until he does. (Sound familiar, anyone? Most romances have something like this. Or a new guy moving in. Or a new girl. Or some enemy-turned-lover.) The two start to have this whirlwind romance which lasts…oh…who knows how many months. Until they make a dash at Spain. And have sex. Of course they have sex. (Isn’t that what all romance books are turning to these days?) And they come back. And Josh gets expelled. (Which, I admit, is a good plot twist.) Josh is in the States, helping his dad’s senatorial campaign. And poor Isla is left to mope and whine. Interestingly enough, when they meet again, Isla makes a complete and utter fool of herself. They almost have sex again in a museum. And Isla meets his parents. Sadly, she is upset because of Rashmi Josh’s ex-girlfriend has more parts in his graphic memoir than herself. (Which is confusing. Rashmi was with Josh longer. Josh knew Rashmi longer. He only knew Isla for a bit. Not even a year really.) And they break-up. And Isla is tortured by his absence before we’re brought back into France where Isla is about to go to college. At Dartmouth where Josh suggested she could go to. To be near him.
And…we get the couples from the other books. (Spoilers for Anna and St. Clair fans: They get engaged.) They all meet in France because of the Olympics.
And Isla and Josh end up together. Fun stuff, isn’t it?
The story ends with a happily ever after ending. (Posted below in the first and last lines section.)
Isla. I hate Isla. She is needy and desperate. She is borderline a stalker to me. She yearns for Josh’s touch, and I am disgusted by her character. Thankfully, she changes. She gains Josh as a lover, and they have romantic escapades. Sadly, this doesn’t improve how I like her. She is still annoying, but she, at least, gains a romantic perspective. She gains this insight into tortured-artist Josh’s life. And I think that is okay. I mean…she could have been written better. Less stalker and more crush-y. But I guess things happen.
Josh. Ah. Now, I like his character. Rebel with the aptitude for anything. Good with putting on a face. Tortured and hurt by his demons, mostly from the horrible Isla’s break-up with him. He is an artist who is mysterious and ‘sexy’. Of course, I wouldn’t date him. Oh no no. Definitely not. But. I like his character. He’s more real than Isla who is whining most of the time. Josh is someone who has these emotions. These reactions. They seem so real and so unbelievable. I truly liked his character better than Isla’s.
I wish I could add Kurt to this list. I truly liked him. He is a real character. High-functioning autism or not. He’s interesting and exciting. I wish there was more Kurt… Sadly, there wasn’t a lot about him. I feel like there is friendship and romance in this book but more romance than friendship. Sadly.
Problems: There are a few problems in this book. There are more than a few actually, and I’ll try to list them all.
Here we go.
The romance is unbelievable. I don’t feel as if there is anything in this but lust. I feel as if these two aren’t the Hazel and Gus I expected. I thought Isla would be more relaxed about it, but one touch from Josh sets her off like fireworks. She explodes into this sexually hungry teen girl. And I hate that. The sex is another thing. I mean…seriously? Could that have not happened? Why does almost every book involving romance involve sex? I know that happens when you’re in love, but it just feels overused. Especially in realistic fiction. And even in fantasy and science fiction.
Another problem is the character Isla herself. She is needy beyond belief. She hungers for his touch and openly stares at him at times. She is someone so in love with someone else, it consumes her. And I feel like she is just lusting anyways. She is a stalker in a way. Keeping track of him. Yearning for him. Reminds me of Yang from ‘Psych’ really.
And the real elements Stephanie Perkins tries to add. A bisexual older sister. Okay. I see. Mhm. A high-functioning autism friend. Okay. Add in a sexual addicted sister. Okay… That’s too much. I feel as if Stephanie Perkins is just throwing these things at you. I know that she is trying to be LGBT friendly. I just feel as if she is failing. I feel as if the romance and these real elements didn’t mix well. It makes me feel…mixed.
And the friendship thing. I get it. Kurt can be high maintenance at times. I get it. But. He is just…dumped by Isla for Josh. I know that happens in relationships, but Isla completely ignores him. Completely. She doesn’t try to talk to him. Kurt is just kicked out of the picture entirely. And I feel sickened by this. Friendship is important. Maybe more important than romance at times.
I do hope that the Anna book and the Lola ones are better than this. I felt simply dissatisfied by this book especially since the Instagram world has made this book to be spectacular.
Good points: I truly can say there aren’t many good points. I do not like the romance. I do not like Isla. I do not like many things. I can say there is one thing I liked.
The character Josh. Yes, he seems…fake at times. Yes, I hate how he’s with Isla the needy. But. He’s a good character. He could really have his own book. Maybe about him and Rashmi? I don’t know.
If I had read the first and second book of this series, I might say the Anna and St. Clair part was nice. But I haven’t read the Anna and Lola books. I won’t re-read this book, and I hope you don’t try to convince me to. I simply didn’t like this book. That’s final. I can’t really say I liked any of this book. The only reason it isn’t anything lower than a five is because I’m trying to be nice.
Recommended: If you want a peek at Anna and St. Clair. If you want this desperate romance.
First and last words: (I don’t usually do these. I just thought it would be nice to end this review with the first and last words of this book.)
It’s midnight, it’s sweltering, and I might be high on Vicodin, but that–that guy right over there–that’s him.
“The best part.” And he pulls be back into his arms. “The happily ever after.”