Tuesday, 31 March 2015
Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: August 14th, 2014
From glittering Manhattan to moonlit Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. Until they are forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren't always forever. Revisiting beloved couples Anna and Etienne and Lola and Cricket, this sweeping finale will charm fans old and new.
This book seemed to be a long time in the making, but it was so, so worth the wait. Stephanie Perkins is an undisputed queen in the YA contemporary world, having already written such gems as Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, and expectations for this final instalment in this series were high. VERY high. Isla and the Happily Ever After easily met any and all hopes readers might have had, and I think it's my favourite of Stephanie's books so far. That seems to change weekly, though, so maybe it's safest to just say that I loved it!
Isla and the Happily Ever After is one of those books that, as you get older, I think you'll appreciate more. It's less about getting to a relationship and more about what happens after you're there and you're knee-deep in it. Everyone knows love and relationships are hard work, but if they work, they're amazing. That's what Isla and Josh (sigh) are experiencing in this story; they're learning how to be together as more than friends, how to grow and how to exist as a couple rather than Isla and Josh on different sides of the campus. It's a big, scary transition, just like it is for couples in real life. There's compromise, fights, make-up sex, disappointment and an overwhelming feeling of love that accompanies their journey, and it's this that makes the book so realistic.
Isla is brilliant, and I liked her immediately. She isn't a pushover, she's independent and she knows exactly what she wants most of the time. A few of her decisions annoyed the heck out of me, but I completely understand why she did what she did and that it was necessary for her and for her relationship with Josh. Certain things didn't quite ring true for me, but then I remembered that everyone is different and what works varies from person to person. Josh is also an excellent character, and I pretty much fell in love with him straight away. He's good for Isla, he cares about her and he's just a genuinely nice, thoughtful guy. Obviously he isn't perfect, as no-one is, but he does his best to be everything he can be and more.
There's not much else I want to say about Isla and the Happily Ever After, because I think all Stephanie's books should be read in the dark, as much as is possible. The way her relationships and characters unfold is a thing of beauty, and this book is no exception. I loved every page and I can't wait to see what Stephanie writes next. There's even a couple of beloved characters who have a cameo in this book, which is really the icing on an already well-made cake. Two thumbs up!