Before I start my review for Isla and the Happily Ever After, I have to say that I still love, love, love Stephanie Perkins! Her first book, Anna and the French Kiss, is one that I could read over and over again, and don’t get me started on her book boys — Etienne and Cricket are some of the BEST book boys!
If you read Isla and loved it, you might want to skip over this review because it’s definitely not in praise of the story — even though I wanted it to be.
I had been looking forward to Isla and the Happily Ever After for a long, long time. I think that’s something that led to my disappointment as I was reading. When I read about Anna and Lola, I laughed, I cried, and I fell in love with them. There was something about Isla that was just so off for me. She didn’t seem to have any ambition, whereas Anna and Lola were full of it, and she just seemed so … down … for the majority of the story.
Then there’s Josh, who is supposed to be a swoonworthy character, but I kind of saw him as an actor, who could put on a show for whoever he was trying to impress. He didn’t have that same charm that Etienne and Cricket had, he didn’t have that same unique personality that they each had.
Was I comparing too much while reading this story? Probably, but I couldn’t help it. Stephanie Perkins’s first two books are ones that I could continuously read and read and read and when I finished this one, I just didn’t feel the same way. I didn’t want to revisit Isla’s world again because honestly? It just depressed me.
Even if I didn’t enjoy the characters, I would’ve loved to say that the story redeemed itself, but it just lacked the focus that the first two books had. The whole book was just about two people — two sexually charged teens — who just want to get together to get it on, basically. I thought it was a story that dragged on, mainly because everything happens right at the start. Isla loves Josh for her entire life and then they get together. There was just no build up that made me want these two people to get together because once I got to know them, I just didn’t like them at all.
There was also a lack of humour in the story. Again with the comparisons, but I found myself laughing out loud so much while reading about Anna or Lola. They were both so quirky and funny that they made me want to just keep reading. But Isla? There was not a lot of humour, at least nothing to make me bust a gut, and she was just kind of a ‘meh’ character the whole time.
And lastly, there’s the scenery. We’re back in Paris! We go to Barcelona! But instead of feeling like I was right there with the characters in the story, it was just a bunch of name dropping of locations. The atmosphere was just lost on me.
I’m sad to say, but this was just such a disappointment for me. I wanted to love it. I wanted to swoon. I wanted to fall in love. And in the end, I feel like it was the pretty colours of the cover that I loved the most and that was it. I know I had read somewhere that when Stephanie Perkins wrote the first two books in this series, she wrote it during the pressure of NaNoWriMo. Maybe the fun of writing those stories in such a short amount of time is what led to their charm? Maybe she mulled over this one for too long of a time? I guess we’ll see what the next book holds.
Have you read this book? Have you ever highly anticipated a story and been disappointed?