You all know what this is.
A few weeks ago I finished Isla and the Happily ever after, the third in Stephanie Perkins’ contemporary romance stories (the first two being Anna and the French Kiss, then Lola and the boy next door), and I squeed as much as I did in the first two, possibly even more. HOWEVER, although I really really really enjoyed reading Isla’s story, feel like there were a few things that didn’t have the same quality as both Anna and Lola. I completely completely understand that this is Isla’s story, and hers is hers to tell (and Stephanie Perkins), and I normally hate comparing, but let me explain myself.
One of the things that I think makes Stephanie Perkins’ books so wonderful is that they are familiar- an unequivocal love story – but they are so wonderfully authentic, grounded in great characterisation and romantic settings (Paris, SanFran Sisco), that they make the genre even more compelling to romantics and perhaps more appealing to those who avoid things like this. I’m not a fan of the sentiment that romance cheapens a story – I don’t think it does, unless it is handled badly. When it is handled well, it is such an enjoyable thing to read about, to be immersed in. And a major part of the reason why Stephanie Perkins has amassed such a following is because she’s a great writer that handles love stories that have their own charm.
Whilst Isla had a lot of the same charm, the same great qualities, that Anna and Lola had, it also felt like the love story in Isla felt a little more geared towards wish fulfilment and love at first sight sentiments, especially because Isla’s crush on him was huge and a little bit obsessive (although very relatable). It’s different to the build up of friendship turned to romantic love that we got familiar with in the previous two novel, which is more interesting and is more fun to read about.
HOWEVER, I do also understand that this may be because the set up and plot line of this book is different – SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT – we get to see more of an actual relationship, and this part of the novel felt very real and sweet and very sad at times. There were so many interactions that felt very spot on. Some scenes, in the hands of another author, may be written off as a bit cheesy, but because it’s Stephanie Perkins, she just has this way with romance that cheesy and cringy don’t even factor into the equation. They’re just lovely and adorable to read about.
I also would have liked to see more of her friendship with Kurt, her long term best friend, and just him as a person. He has Asperser’s Syndrome, and I thought this was dealt with very well. I would have also liked to see more of Isla’s relationship with her sisters, Hattie and Genevieve, as I thought they both sounded interesting when Isla was describing them to Josh.
What a difference perception can make! Josh, Isla’s love interest, is in Anna and the French kiss, but Anna sees him very differently, as more of a moody slacker (albeit a loveable one). Isla, however, sees him completely differently, and as a result, I saw him differently. I liked his character, I liked his character, I liked the fact that he was an artist. Isla, I liked as well, but she didn’t have a zeal or passion for anything like Anna and Lola did (films, fashion). This was an insecurity and uncertainty that she had to deal with. A noteworthy note: This is definitely the sexiest of the three companion novels, and I thought this was dealt with pretty healthily.
Overall, I liked this novel and thought it was so swoony, although it is not without faults. It was still a lovely lovely book.