Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins || Book Review

“There’s no story,’ I say. ‘I saw you one day, and I just knew.”

Isla and the Happily Ever After beautifully and poetically closes off Perkins’ incredibly enticing YA romance series with a bang! In her final year of high school, Isla discovers her high school crush returns her feelings. But when friendships come into question and doubts creep into her mind, Isla must learn to take risks and discover herself before she loses everything. From New York City to Paris to Barcelona, there’s no stopping the intensely romantic adventures of Isla and Josh. A comical and loving coming of age novel, Isla and Josh’s raw passion and magnificent connection will have readers at the edge of their seats and grasping for more until the final chapter.

Title: Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anne and the French Kiss #3)
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Goodreads: Link!

Genre / Themes: Coming of Age | Contemporary | Realistic Fiction | Romance
Point of View: First Person

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publication Date: 2014
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 339

Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

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.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

Source: Goodreads

There are minor spoilers to the story in this review; please do not read further if you wish to have the story completely unspoiled.

And here it is…the final novel of Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss series. Though I’ve had mixed feelings throughout the series, I’m incredibly grateful that Goodreads and friends of mine recommended this series to me. It’s the perfect light summer read that just makes you feel happy and optimistic about life. Though Lola and the Boy Next Door is more my cup of tea, Isla and the Happily Ever After is a close second! The relationship, the characters, the variety of settings…Perkins’ ended off this series incredibly well!

Similar to the other two books in this series, sexual references are very PG in comparison to a number of other YA novels published today. Though there’s more explicit discussion of sexual intercourse, the content itself is still very minimal.

The setting variety

Differentiating from its predecessors, Isla and the Happily Ever After explores a number of settings! From New York City to Paris to Barcelona, readers are exposed to the beauty and history and culture of a variety of settings that still incapsulate the romantic essence of Perkins’ YA romance series. Setting oriented readers will THOROUGHLY enjoy Perkins’ ability to unveil each location accurately while maintaining the “lovey-dovey” tone of the story. The variety also works well with the two main characters, as it matches Isla’s desire to discover the world like characters in her novels and Josh’s passion for art, which Perkins focuses on in each location.

Morals = On point!

One thing I truly disliked in the first two novels is some of the “morals” Perkins’ condoned and “romanticized”. Much to my great pleasure, Isla and the Happily Ever After strays from this pattern. No, the characters aren’t perfect – but that was never something I sought. Perkins’ highlights morals such as trust and loyalty and communication, and doesn’t condone (let alone reward) certain acts that I found somewhat distasteful in her first two books. SO MUCH RESPECT!

Relatable, lovable & diverse characters 

Isla and Josh are wonderful characters, both as individuals and in a relationship. Isla is somewhat timid in nature and has a lot of confidence issues, which causes a strain on the relationship. I GREATLY (to my dismay…) related with her and found it easy to understand her mindset…though I was yelling at her to get on that confidence train throughout the entire novel! Josh, a returning character from Anna and the French Kiss Book One, wasn’t as relatable to me but I can definitely see other readers (especially teens and young adults) relating to his interests and personality. Introverted and intelligent, Josh has a rather sweet and passionate side to him that’s greatly and much more explored in this novel than it was in the first. It was a treat to see this side!

Though the characters are not as diverse as Lola and the Boy Next Door, Kurt’s character is definitely a good “mix up” for the series. Kurt, Isla’s best friend, has high functioning autism. In addition to his character being incredibly adorable, Perkins wonderfully illustrates the traits and mannerisms commonly found from someone with autism. Coming from someone who has a brother with this, it was great to see the accuracy.

Beyond these characters, there isn’t much diversity. However, the other characters mentioned throughout the story are wonderful (except for those ones you’re not supposed to enjoy…which Perkins’ did a little TOO well…).

Connection to the entire series

A major strength Perkins has is connecting all the characters and different plots in this series in the sequential novels, which is incredibly hard when the main characters change in each book. Character favourites return from the first two novels, and they haven’t changed a bit! Perkins remains true to their personalities, bringing back the nostalgia of reading about them and made me want to re-read the series over once more. Additionally, I loved seeing what each character had done with their lives so far since the previous book(s)! THE FEELS!

Instalove? Kind of…

This section contains spoilers!

Okay…so it’s kind of instalove but also not. Isla and Josh have had a crush on one another since the first year of high school, yet neither one realized this about the other. So it wasn’t completely unbelievable and unreasonable when their relationship blossomed and began to move quickly…though I still found it TOO quick. The ISSUE I have is the amount of “future planning” talk, where they began looking into undergrad schools they could apply and go to together…at like the one month period. Those are some MAJOR life decisions…ones you don’t base off of a less than one month relationship! There’s also the use of the words “I love you” rather quickly.

…maybe I’m just a really SLOW and STEADY PACED person in relationships…and apparently not that much of a romantic as I though…#IGOTISSUES

Kind of slow at times

Isla and Josh’s characters are the REAL selling point for me in this novel, and the story in general is fun. However, there are yet again a number of reeeeeallllllllly sloooooooowwww sections that made it difficult to continue on at points. I’m still claiming this a page turner; it’s definitely a day or two read. There are just times where Perkins dwells too much on certain moments and should’ve moved on.

Isla and the Happily Ever After is the PERFECT title for this novel…it TRULY is a happily ever after story. The appearance of old characters, the beautiful use of so many settings, the incredibly loving relationship of Isla and Josh…all of these elements just amplified her series finale! Contrary to its predecessor Lola and the Boy Next Door, the ending’s much more satisfying and conclusive, yet still leaving it open for ones own thoughts on Josh and Isla’s next adventure. If you loved Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, you’re going to fall MADLY in love with Isla and the Happily Ever After.

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Author of Bookmark Your Thoughts, both the Tumblr and WordPress book review blogs. I'm a tea drinking, book loving librarian who just loves literature.

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