This week's review is over one the books I had most anticipated for 2014, the conclusion to the "Anna and the French Kiss" companion trilogy: "Isla and the Happily Ever After"! This book, as most fans of Stephanie Perkins know, was originally supposed to be released in 2012, then 2013. In a blog post by the author, she explained why the book was taking so long to be released, but it still made the anticipation almost unbearable!
Anyway, I'll get into my thoughts, but first, here's the Goodreads description:
The café is boiling. The atmosphere is clouded with bittersweet coffee.
Three years of desire rip through my body and burst from my lips: “Josh!”
His head jolts up. For a long time, a very long time, he just stares at me.
And then…he blinks. “Isla?”
Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on brooding artist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And, after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer break, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to face uncertainty about their futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.
Set against the stunning backdrops of New York, Paris and Barcelona, this is a gorgeous, heart-wrenching and irresistible story of true love, and the perfect conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.
I will admit, while being an absolutely adorable book, it wasn't my favorite in the series. That place is still held by Anna, followed by Isla and ending with Lola. My main issue with the story was the communication between Isla and Josh. This is one of the only young adult stories I've read where two characters like each other, tell each other that fact and start a relationship without a whole mess of conflict getting in the way first, which is a plus. However, it seems like after that their communication goes out the window.
Yes, it's believable, but only to a point. They're in a relationship for a reason, and I found myself wanting to somehow reach into the book and shake some sense into both of them. Nearly all the conflict in this book shouldn't be there, and wouldn't be there if the characters would just TALK to each other.
I didn't exactly buy the insta-love and wish we got to know Josh and his feelings for Isla a little bit better so his side of the relationship didn't seem forced into existence.
Isla, while endearing and adorable, seemed to push the limits of quirky a little too much (she is constantly tripping over things and falling down which stops being cute and starts seeming like the fact that she's "a little strange but in a cute way" is being played up too much).
There were a few cliche` elements that weren't necessary, but didn't exactly take away from the story and are only faults if you begin to really break the novel down.
Also, the timing of the book is a little confusing. It is supposed to be set during the same time period as Lola's book, but it's not. It's set up to make it seem like it's taking place the year after "Lola and the Boy Next Door" which, in turn, throws off details from "Anna and the French Kiss". Again, that's a pretty minor issue, but it is something I noticed.
Ultimately, I think the story could have been tweaked to perfection, but it's also understandable that writing the ending to your first series, one that's so beloved, can be an extremely trying task for an author. While it could have been better, I still loved the book and wholeheartedly recommend the trilogy.