Book in Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After7:35 PM
Title: Isla and the Happily Ever After
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publication Date: August 14th, 2014
Rating: 2/5 stars
I've waited for this book for months and I'm pretty disappointed with how it turned out. I'm not exactly sure where to start and how to disclose my feelings without giving out spoilers, but I'll try! This is more of a rant/rambling rather than a formal review so please bear with the feelings.
What a waste of setting
In Anna and the French Kiss, Paris plays an important role to the story. It's a whole character on its own and it contributes a lot to Anna and Etienne's love story. Point Zero, Notredame... Everything serves a purpose! In Lola and the Boy Next Door, we are then transported to San Francisco, where everything is so colorful and diverse. Though the setting is a bit weaker here, it still works and the atmosphere is still wonderful! Unfortunately in Isla, I felt like the beauty of Paris was not emphasized enough in pushing the story. And the change of settings didn't exactly work for me either. Let's go to Paris! Let's go to New York! Let's go to Barcelona! All of these places are incredible and beautiful, yet, honestly? They weren't properly utilized for the sake of the plot, and the story could've happened ANYWHERE.
Overly dramatic and fast love story
So Isla has been in love with Josh since freshman year and Josh has kinda liked her but thought she was spoken for and he got with Rashmi so it was kind of bad timing but now they broke up so it gives way for Isla and Josh to be together. Okay, fine. When finally, they properly meet and have a decent conversation for the first time ever, their story begins. But it all gets too fast from there! They go on a date, then make out, and then ensues a whole month of being overly happy and perfect. They fall in love after about 5 pages and then they go on trips to Barcelona, and yes, then they have sex too. I don't really have problems with it being that fast paced; it's more like I can't seem to get the reason why they love each other. Isla is obviously obsessed with Josh since 1st year, and Josh kind of liked her too - but I don't understand WHY. I don't understand what is with this love they feel that will justify this whirlwind of romance in one chapter! The pacing is pretty off, because the fastness doesn't make sense to me.
And then well, nothing happens for a while until we get to the middle part when the drama unfolds and Josh has to go somewhere. Okay, Isla, you're going to see Josh in a month or so, it's not like he's going to die or anything!
"We were only given five minutes to say goodbye. I cried again. He used his favourite pen to ink the four letters L-O-V-E onto my fingers. He held my face with both hands. "I love you", he said. "I love you. I love you."I could hardly see him through my tears. "I love you." I said. "I love you. I love you."
PLEASE! This is a BIG BIG insult to teenage romances! It is a fact that teenage couples are intense and a bit dramatic, but teenagers are not shallow and stupid and we are better than this.
Their relationship is just plain unhealthy, and this is the first time in a Stephanie Perkins book that I didn't want them to end up together in the end! It's funny because I really liked the opening and ending scene of this book, but only as standalone scenes. Overall, the love story is messy and could've been justified IF they didn't get together in the end. I would've liked it better that way.
Isla & Josh - who are they really?
It's sad because it is so on point how Isla is described as a blank canvass. I seriously don't know anything about her except that she is obsessed with Josh. Okay, so we know she has this sister who she doesn't get along with, another sister who is lesbian and cool, and a guy best friend who she sleeps with in the same bed but it's way platonic so don't jump to conclusions (wtf how screwed up is that), but other than that she doesn't feel like a real character. I don't know anything about her hobbies, her passions, her fears, her insecurities - minus the ones that are Josh-related. It makes me sad because I liked her a lot in Anna and the French Kiss even if it was just a page or two of her there. And then Josh - theoretically this is a character that I would have loved. His artistic prowess and dreams of creating a graphic novel memoir sound pretty amazing to me, but I couldn't seem to see him as a distinct and whole character. In fact I kind of thought he seemed inconsistent to the Josh we first met in Anna - and frankly, I loved him more there as well.
Honestly? I think both of them need some maturing to do. These two characters are really screwed up with their own issues - Isla with her unhealthy obsession with Josh, and Josh with his constant need to break the rules and get the attention of his super uptight Senator Dad and mom that I feel like them getting together in the first place is built on interdependence - which is SO WRONG AND UNHEALTHY! Really. So going back to what I said about how I wished they didn't end up together at all. They need to fix their own lives first, and come to terms with who they really are as their own person.
Your privilege is showing
The fact that these characters are obviously rich having afforded to study in Paris and expensive impromptu out of country trips, plus applying to universities like Dartmouth or Columbia without ever considering the ridiculous amount of tuition because these kids have never known what it felt like to be poor, is irritating on so many levels when they start to complain about the smallest things about their love lives. It's just intolerable and whiny and very very superficial! And there is nothing said about the money- they don't consider it, they don't care and it's just annoying because there is a lack of awareness for these two teenagers, where they choose to make these decisions from of their own selfish reasons.
I love Anna and Etienne and I love Lola and Cricket, but the cameos are just UGH. Especially the Anna & Etienne ones which I already had a problem with in Lola. I just can't deal with it when they keep shoving into our faces how perfect a couple they are - um, no they are not perfect, they are just two mature people who know how to deal with their problems and put an effort to make their relationship work. Plus, don't overlook the fact that it took Etienne a freaking year to finally get with Anna and dump his girlfriend Ellie, and yeah he kinda cheated on Ellie with Anna but it's fine because they're meant to be and it's true love! Sheesh. They are NOT perfect! And it's not a guarantee that they'll end up together and stay together forever just because it's true love! No, no and no!
And I don't want to spoil anyone, but the Anna and Etienne thing that happened at the end was just unnecessary and ridiculous and wasn't even cute or swoony at all!
Overall, I didn't like this book and it is way below my expectations. Giving this 2 stars anyway, because it started out okay for me, and I liked some scenes, particularly the ending, the Josh drawing on the Treehouse scene, the "Why does she wear it everyday?" necklace scene, and just basically the artsiyness of the whole book.