Thursday, August 14, 2014

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After

Title: Isla and the Happily Ever After
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Published: August 14, 2014
Publisher: Dutton
I was so pumped to read this book that after I picked it up from the bookstore I couldn't bear to put it down and drive home for forty minutes before starting it. Which is why I commenced in reading it in my car, in the parking lot.  I read three quarters of this book in the bookstore parking lot.  Then, I drove to the grocery store and finished the book in the grocery store parking lot, before, you know, going in to buy groceries.  I do not admit this because I am proud.  On the contrary, I am aware that I have issues when it comes to checking self-indulgence.  But, that is exactly the kind of book Isla and the Happily Ever After is — indulgent.

It's a book that, like it's two predecessors Anna and Lola, is unapologetically, wholly romantic.  It is 300+ pages of dreamy wish-fulfillment.  It's so much fun.

For fans of Stephanie Perkins, Isla is an immediately recognizable character, as she had a brief cameo in Anna and the French Kiss.  She was the shy, sweet red-head who crushed on Josh, Etienne St. Clair's artistic, snide best friend.  Now, it's Isla's story.  The summer before her senior year, Isla has her wisdom teeth extracted, and bumps into Josh, whilst high on Vicodin. Feeling no pain, Isla forgets to be shy and charms Josh with her buoyant and sincere personality.  When they reunite at their boarding school in Paris — boarding school in Paris — they start to connect.

Here's the good, in list format:

1. Romance. Stephanie Perkins is so, so good at writing romance.  In all three of her books, she has utilized a single narrator per, yet the emotions of the supporting characters leap off of the page just as strongly as those of the narrator.  This makes for a two-sided, full-bodied romance.

2. Steam. Speaking of full-bodied... I read a review that called this book "crude." My reaction:

Yes, this is the most explicit book Perkins has written so far.  It's not enough to bump her out of YA territory, but it was pretty surprising. 

3. Setting. The settings in this trilogy have been very strong.  Perkins has a knack for describing famous landmarks in a way that makes them seem fresh and unexpected.  Additionally, she picks up on details that might elude a casual tourist, which makes her urban settings come to life.

4. Dialogue/Description.  As in the previous books, the balance of dialogue and description is really well handled.  There's something really magical in the way that Perkins writes a scene in which the characters merely talk.  

5. Art.  Josh's artwork is a prominent feature of the story, as he's entering his fourth year of constructing a graphic memoir of his high school years.  As a person who majored in Studio Art, I especially liked the descriptions of Josh's work.  Perkins leaves a lot of opportunity for the reader to conjure their own mental images of Josh's art; I enjoyed constructing an idea of how his memoir would look.  

6. Isla.  Isla was a complex character, who breaks Perkins' usual mold.  Anna, Etienne, Lola, Cricket, Josh, and even Calliope, all have consuming life passions, which makes for interesting characters, but is also a tad unrealistic given that these characters are teenagers.  Isla is a more typical adolescent, unsure of who she is and what her place in the world will be.  

Overall, fans of Perkins' work will not be disappointed in the final installment of this contemporary YA trilogy. Isla and the Happily Ever After works as part of a set of books, and also stands strongly apart from the others. It's sad that this magical series featuring romantically-adept teenagers has come to a close, but it's also exciting to know that Perkins' career isn't finished by any means. Reportedly, she is at work writing a YA horror novel.  (Will it be horror/romance is my only question!) As readers, we only have a happily ever after ahead of us.


  1. I loved this one sooo much. I would've waited forever to get this exact story. I loved the pacing and totally wasn't expecting it. *happy dance* I loved Isla and I loved that she was such a blank slate.

    1. I'm so glad you liked it too! I, also, had no complaints with this book. The exact story was perfect, especially knowing what Stephanie Perkins went through trying to get it out there for all of us to read. Thank you so much for commenting on my review!

  2. I haven't read it yet because of Amazons slow deliveries! I come home every day and check the post all hopeful and it STILL hasn't arrived! I'm going insane. I read the other two in a day each! This review has gotten me even more pumped to read it!

    1. Ahh! That's maddening! I'm so glad my review got you pumped to read your copy, which HAS to be arriving soon. Thanks for stopping by, girl!