Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
◆ Read October 2014
◆ English Edition
◆ Purchase: The Book Depository
◆ 
❝  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. 
As much as I hate to admit it, I didn't like Isla and the Happily Ever After  nearly as much as the other two books in the series. I cared less for the characters and I felt less invested in the plot. 

I'm just going to get the worst out of the way immediately. I didn't like Isla. At all. A lot of people are probably going to hate me for this but the main character is supposed to be interesting and special, it's what makes them the MC. I honestly would not have given two cents if Perkins had replaced Isla by another protagonist, she felt that unimportant. Furthermore, some (many) of her characteristics were seriously bothering me. Like the fact that she is kind of a stalker, which is creepy. Furthermore, she's wallowing in self-loathing throughout the book, but as a reader you can't really feel pity or identify with her because there's no explanation why she behaves that way. 


I liked Josh and Kurt much better but the problem with them is that they felt a little bit flat, less profound than what I'm used to in a Stephanie Perkins novel. They could have been great characters if only they were fleshed out more. That doesn't mean that I hated the characters, but I just didn't love them either.


Which brings me to the love story. I was surprised, baffled even that Perkins decided to go down the road she did. Isla and Josh exchanged maybe a few words in three years time, then suddenly they meet again and rush into a relationship. How on earth can you 'love' someone you've barely ever spoken to, haven't done anything with? They practically just met and yet they were head over heels in love with each other. Not to mention the fact that their entire relationship was extremely rushed. I literally groaned by the time they started talking about going to college in the same city. Get a grip you two! 


I liked the love stories in Anna and Lola because they progressed over time. Anna and √Čtienne took the whole year to get to know each other before they decided to take the leap. Lola and Cricket already knew each other in a sense and they too only got together towards the end of the book.  I get that the author wanted to maybe try something different with Isla and the Happily Ever After, but I just didn't like the result. 


There were parts I did like about the book though! For one, I loved the descriptions about Barcelona and the occasional ones about Paris. Once again I could imagine myself walking alongside the characters, admiring the city sights. I missed this aspect in the previous book and was glad to see it return. 

Another thing I loved is that there was once again a sense of continuity. There were multiple references about the Olympics and the main characters made an appearance again. It's incredibly hard to say anything about this without spoiling, but it was nice to see Isla, Josh, Cricket, Lola, Anna and St. Clair meet. The fact that this was my favorite scene says something though. It's not good to feel more invested in side characters who make a tiny appearance than in the  protagonists of the book.


So all in all, Isla and the Happily ever After was okay. There were a lot of aspects that made me dislike the book, but this was kind of evened out by the parts I did like. 


3 stars because:
✓ Descriptions of scenery
✓ Previous character make an appearance
✗ Unlikeable and undeveloped characters
✗ Love story was rushed and based on nothing
 

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