Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Release date: August 14th, 2014
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin)
Series: Yes-ish, #3 in the Anna and the French Kiss series of companions
Source: ARC from the publisher
Length: 358 pages
Rating: ASDHFJSDFKAJSD SQUEEEE *flips table* *runs in circles* *collapses*


From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and √Čtienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

This review is SPOILER FREE for Isla.

My review of Anna and the French Kiss | My review of Lola and the Boy Next Door

Stephanie Perkins does things to my heart. I don't know how she does it, precisely; the only possible explanation I can come up with is that she is some kind of romance wizard, and that she has a fortress wherein she practices shipping magic, and she has perfected some kind of mystical formula to achieve maximum adorableness.

I love me some swoons and some cutes, and I've been known to let out all kinds of sounds while reading about them. But Stephanie Perkins books do things to me. I don't just gasp and swoon; I keen like a humpback whale. I flop and flail and spaz around like a beached fish. (I apparently mutate into a sea creature.) I am inundated with so many electric feels that I punch pillows in a futile attempt to deal with them. (Also because the pillows look at me funny. STOP JUDGING, PILLOWS.

Isla did all these things to me. It's just the same as Anna and Lola in that I ship it like WHOA, and it's filled with all these note perfect little moments of shippy adorableness, but it's different because we know Josh and Isla. Josh was a main character in Anna, and Isla made a few tiny, nearly unnoticeable cameos. They're different because we've been expecting them and waiting for them and obsessing over them like the sane sea creatures we are.
But who's counting?
And it's different because this is a book about two people who are actually in a relationship. Anna and Lola focused on couples getting over their roadblocks and finding one another, but Isla asks the questions, "What if you get together and your roadblocks only get bigger? What if 'happily ever after' is impossible? What does 'happily ever after' mean, for me individually and with another person?" It's the story of two teenagers who fall in love really fast, really hard, and then have to deal with the positive and negative repercussions of that and evaluate if it's truly Meant to Be.

Okay, first off. Isla and Josh? ISLA AND JOSH. I... UM. I don't want to say anything, but I want to let you know that they basically broke my brain with first their awkwardness, then their cuteness, then their SEXINESS (seriously, Stephanie, BRAVO), and then the depth of their feelings. Isla is pretty shy and very much tangled up in her own thoughts, and Josh is... well, he's Josh. He's an "introverted artist", as the synopsis says, and together they are, at first, completely unable to romance. It is so adorably awkward. Their first date had me giggling like a little kid who just learned a dirty word.

Unfffffffffffffff. There are so many things I wish I could talk about, but I want you to discover the cuteness of this couple all by yourselves. (But basically... JOSHUA WASSERSTEIN. MY, HOW YOU'VE GROWN.) I read a good chunk of the book with this exact look on my face:

Oooo, and then there's the travel porn. We're back in Paris at the School of America in Paris. Unlike Anna, Isla knows this city. She's half French, and she feels utterly at home, which gives us a lovely inside view of this gorgeous city, and I swore it felt like I was there for most of it. Ditto Barcelona, which makes a brief and awesome setting-cameo (so a thing). Less so New York, even though it's the cover city, but whatever. Paris is where the magic happens.

So obviously everything can't be smooth sailing for Isla and Josh, those adorable adorable ADORABLE little lovebirds, and I'll tell you--things get HEAVY in this book. There were times where I didn't quiiiite track the issues, Isla's in particular, though I SO loved what she struggled with. Isla is unsure of herself and her future and her calling in life, and it's so close to what so many teenagers on the brink of college go through. Basically, Isla is a blank canvas, and it terrifies her. And then there's Josh, the passionate painter who has a tendency to self-sabotage but knows what he wants, and, well, there is sufferign. There is pain. As she was reading, my friend Meg from Cuddlebuggery kept updating me on her thoughts and feels and at a certain point she threatened to burn down her apartment. Basically, there are feels.
I think I've broken some kind of reviewing record for "most usages of the word 'feels'".

And though this book lags just a bit near the middle-end, overall, Isla is perfection. It is such a beautiful way to tie up such a lovely, heartwarming, glorious series. It's just the period I was hoping Stephanie Perkins would put at the end of this sentence, and I couldn't be happier. I read Isla in one day, starting with the moment the UPS man dropped it off at my door and finishing at around 11 pm, trying to cry and unable to keep from beaming. Isla won't disappoint you.

And then there's the thing that happens on page 313 that made me catapult myself off my couch and gallop in wild circles around my coffee table shrieking like a banshee true story I think I blacked out for a second. No, seriously. The amount of sheer joy that jolted through my body was most likely dangerous for my health. There is a good chance my neighbors considered calling the cops.
"OFFICER! A girl is being murdered by her unhealthy investment in the romantic fates of fictional characters! Send help!"

I shall leave you with the incoherent shouting of words that will become meaningful once you read Isla: KURT! HATTIE! BLANK CANVASES! COMPASS! NOSEBLEEDS! GAUDI! MON PETIT CHOU! THE CAMEOS!!!!!

Et fin. <3


  1. You are so cute and I love your reviews. lol I hope I like Isla more than I did Lola...

  2. *flails with you* I CAN'T WAIT!!! I'm going to the bookstore today, and if I find it there I'm going to have to use every inch of restraint in me to not look at page 313. Actually, I have none. I'm so looking at it if I find it.

  3. This review makes me wish I had a copy of Isla in my hand right now. Actually, if I had it, I'd probably not be commenting right now. I'd be reading!!

  4. Asdfghjkl you make me want it now. I can't wait for all the adorable, cute awkwardness! Glad it didn't disappoint.


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