Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After

Title: Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3) 9627755

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Rating: 

Provided Synopsis: Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

Review: Um. Did I read the same book as everyone else?

This is not a love story. This is the story of an obsessive crush that turns into an unhealthy case of instalove with no maturity whatsoever. Isla Martin has been “in love” with Joshua Wasserstein since their freshman year of high school. She has never been able to talk to him, so she has watched him from afar as he is in a relationship with someone else and spends time with his close group of friends. A chance encounter over the summer before their senior year is the first time they speak in full sentences to one another; then there is silence until they return to Paris.

But even back at school they struggle to do anything more than make eye contact. Josh suddenly has the time to look at her and try to initiate a conversation. After two weeks they begin to date. After a month of dating they claim to be in love. The most interesting aspect of Isla is that it forgoes the “let us be best friends because we cannot be with each other, yet” route the author has taken in other books. Isla and Josh jump to being “in love,” and that is the problem. There is no growth here at all. There is nothing to work for. Isla has always been obsessed with him, but the reader never even knows why Josh claims to be in love with Isla. It happens too fast and it is completely unbelievable.

Furthermore, this relationship is not even healthy. For a boy that she has only been able to speak to for such a short amount of time Isla is willing to alter her behavior. She decreases the time spent with her only friend, changes her approach to school, and alters her college plans. This is all, by the way, for a relationship that is mainly physical and distorted by her obsessively crushing eyes to be thought of as love. And when Isla is offered glimpses into Josh’s life she becomes upset. For example, when he smiles and has charisma that is not “her Josh.” Isla seems able to only recognize and obsess over a miserable Josh. How is that not problematic? Then, when he offers her a glimpse of his life through his artwork she is upset to realize he had a life before her. As if he is not supposed to have had a life before someone he has been making out with and having sex with for only a month?!

I apologize for the rant, but I am so disappointed with this story. I have never been so actively hoping that two characters will not be together. Their relationship is distorted and will not last. Even worse is the savoir complex applied at the end along with the way this ordeal as a whole is meant to be romantic. I know lovers of the series will read this no matter what, yet I cannot recommend this to anyone. Was Josh even the same character we saw in Anna? Nope, he was relegated to the role of a love interest with no development. Was the setting as atmospheric as it was in Anna or Lola? Nope, because with the exception of some wonderful descriptions of a brief jaunt to Barcelona this story could have been set anywhere. The best part of this book was the very short reunion between all of the characters from previous books, which only serves to remind that the personalities (or lack thereof) of characters in the current book can be brushed away with the wind.

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4 thoughts on “Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After

  1. Oh wow. You really didn’t like it lol. I personally liked the fact that they got into the relationship earlier on in the book as opposed to after, I think that’s how it should be, she likes him, he likes her and they just get together. It really showed the relationship and their progress. Isla wasn’t my favorite character, I didn’t like that she totally ignored her best friend (can’t remember his name rn ) and just how jealous and whinny she was, tbh while I was reading it I was just thinking about how if I were Josh I would’ve dumped her already. She couldn’t let go of the fact that Rashmi had been there before her, she made a whole spectacle about her being in the book so much and she only having 8 pages and I was so frustrated it’s not even funny. I really went through this book just thinking how Josh deserved better. In the end she got better as I had expected as this was a contemporary and I mean I don’t hate her but she’s definitely not my favorite of them all.
    *sorry if this was super long (:

    • I don’t mind at all that this comment is long! In fact, I’m just so glad you commented so I can have someone to discuss this with!

      It’s true — I really didn’t like this book. But I can definitely agree that it was refreshing to see Isla and Josh become a couple early on rather than in the final chapters; it was different from Anna and Lola, and was probably the most interesting part of the book. I guess I just wish the relationship had evolved differently. Everything moved way too quickly and I can’t see these two being in love at all. I am still left to wonder why Josh even liked Isla, because as you said: he deserved much better. And the author never even really had him say why he liked her. I just heard all this stuff about being a blank canvas…

      So does Josh “love” Isla because she is a blank canvas that can be molded into anything? She really had no identity in this book. I don’t feel as if I know her, all of her decisions were defined by Josh and her obsession with him… It’s like her best friend, Kurt, said in the end: she treated everyone else in her life, including Kurt who she has known all her life, as placeholders until she could be with Josh or until she can be reunited with Josh. It’s not good or healthy 😦

  2. Awesome. I love seeing reviews that differ from the widely accepted opinion of a book! I agree with everything you said and, if I read the book, chances are I would likely have the same problems. I can’t stand instalove and honestly, all three books sound like they’re going to have everything I hate about YA cliches crammed into them. I know someone who reviewed the first book critically mentioned something about how they had a problem with the main characters cheating on their partners or something and after reading that, I slowly backed away. =P

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