Author: Stephanie Perkins
Rating: ★★ (2/5 Stars - It Was Okay)
Hardcover, 352 Pages
Published August 2014
Book #3 of 3 in the Anna and the French Kiss Trilogy
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Also read my review of:
Anna and the French Kiss (Anna, #1)
Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna, #2)
Summary: 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.
I'm going to be honest with this one - I was thoroughly disappointed. I hate writing negative reviews and I loved Anna and Lola and had such high hopes for this book, and Perkins is a great author and person herself. But the amount of insta love in this book was staggering right from the very beginning and it ruined the entire thing for me. (I'm so sorry, Anna fans. I'm not trying to bash this book or Perkins herself. I'm an Anna fan myself, which is why this final book in the trilogy broke my heart in absolutely all of the wrong ways.
First and foremost, not only do I (as well as many other people) despise insta-love in general (definition of insta-love for all of those who don't know: completely unrealistic circumstances when the main characters fall in deep, maddening love practically immediately)...but the insta-love in this book was just too stifling. (So stifling, in fact, that Amber and I will be putting up a ranty-post all about the horrors of insta-love and exactly why it's such a major turn off.)
I mean, Isla has been pining over Josh since freshman year and he barely gave her a second glance, and then all of a sudden he's professing that not only does he like her, but he's crazy about her and they fall into this deep, crazy, maddening and sickeningly sweet love. WITHIN THREE CHAPTERS.
THE FIRST THREE.
*Sighs* I feel like those first few chapters totally ruined the entire book for me. Try as I might, I wasn't able to get past the thought of that nagging insta-love that just would not go away. The most ironic part is that the cover of Isla has a quote from Rainbow Rowell which reads:
"Stephanie Perkins's characters fall in love the way we all want to, in real time and for good."
Let us just reflect for a second. In real time and for good? In what way is falling in love within a week realistic? I'm a firm believer in love at first sight, it's certainly my situation, but you'll understand what I mean when you read this book...it's just so completely, impossibly unrealistic that it'll have you cringing. I was so disappointed in that fact, mostly because I had been looking forward to the final book in this trilogy for the longest time and the book just broke my heart and let me down and I'm just...frustrated and sad.
WARNING: The following paragraphs (marked in between two giant stars) contains spoilers! Skip ahead if you haven't read Isla yet, or read at your own risk!
*Okay, another fact about this book that severely bothered me to no end was the amount of sex. Yes, I get it, they're love struck teenagers, blah blah blah...but they've been dating for a month and they were already running off to Barcelona on the weekend to hook up, and the entire time they dated for that whole month they couldn't keep their hands off of each other. I just feel like their relationship in the book progresses way too fast. As I reader, instead of taking my time and appreciating Perkins's fantastic writing and the awesome conclusion to the Anna trilogy, the back of my mind was hung up on the fact that not only were Isla and Josh moving incredibly fast, but they were moving so fast that it was unrealistic and annoying.
And I get it. I totally do. Romance novels aren't always realistic. They aren't always supposed to be. It's normal to read these books about uncommon love lives because books are supposed to do that to you - bring the unrealistic to life. But when the book is realistic fiction and stuff like that happens? I don't know...it just wasn't what I was expecting from Perkins, especially since the love progression in Anna and Lola was perfectly paced and executed. I almost feel as if Perkins just rushed to Isla just to be finish the series. It's disappointing if that's the case, and I hope it's not.
The only part about this book that made me bump it up from one star to two was the engagement scene between Anna and St. Clair. I was jumping up and down and furiously texting my friends and squealing and doing all of the fangirly things. That was the only scene that brought me genuine satisfaction (even though, again, they're only nineteen and have been dating for a year, so that's another example of love progressing too quickly).*
I'm really not trying to be a downer here. I tried so hard to love Isla as much as I absolutely adored Anna and Lola and I'm really upset that this final book didn't give me the same set of emotions as the first two did. Although this book felt very off the mark to me, I'm sure that many other people (possibly even you, reading this review) read and loved Isla just as much as the first two books. And if you haven't read Isla yet, I still strongly encourage you to give it a try! Huge masses of readers loved it and only a handful (myself included) felt differently. Do NOT let this review influence your decision of whether to read Isla or not. It's certainly possible you'll love it as much as you loved the first two, as long as insta-love doesn't rub you the wrong way.
All in all, Isla and the Happily Ever After definitely missed the mark for me, which was disappointing. I hope that Stephanie Perkins will be writing more books in the future that I can read and fall in absolute love with as I did Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. She's a fantastic writer filled with amazing ideas and I'm excited to see where her writing career goes! (I just wish I had fallen in love with Isla the same way everyone else seemed to.)
NOW I HAVE A QUESTION FOR YOU! What are YOUR opinions on insta-love? Love it? Hate it? When's it okay, and when is it not? What were some books with insta-love that you just couldn't stand? Spill it all in the comments below! We'll be featuring all of your comments in a post on insta-love coming in a few weeks and we need some opinions to feature!