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.
Isla And The Happily Ever After is one of those books that is either loved greatly or hated with a burning passion, with no in between. Or at least, that’s what Goodreads seems to say. Well, allow me to be the rebel and rate it a neutral 3 stars, because I just can’t seem to overcome the conflict this book put me in. Clearly my least favorite and weakest of the contemporary series, Isla is an engaging and fairly likable love story, but lacks the right amount of depth that made the other two books winners.
The plot + writing: Perkins’ novels are always very entertaining and never boring, and Isla was the same. It was very addictive and easy to read, which is why it’s so hard to rate the book. I definitely had a fun time reading it, because most of it was pure fluff, which I didn’t expect. This novel has mastered its fluff components, but there is a severe lack in depth with its themes. Most of the narration and plot mainly centers around Josh, Josh, and Josh, and honestly, it’s a little weird. Isla herself actually has an interesting inner conflict, she’s insecure about herself and thinks she isn’t worth loving, which is totally understandable and relatable. But this theme is only half-hardheartedly expressed in the book, and that’s only toward the last few chapters. The last two books had romance take the center stage, but were still focused on the main characters and their inner conflicts, but all Isla ever seems to think about is Josh. *sighs* wasted potential.
Characters: Perkins’ characters are never easy to love, but most of the time, that’s what makes them interesting and charming even. Most of the time. Don’t worry, I didn’t hate any of the characters in this novel, but I will admit they were more frustrating than usual. Isla is a very sensitive and soft girl that doesn’t really do much besides think about Josh and plan their fantasies together. While she’s the top student in her class, Isla doesn’t really know what she wants to do with her life, referring to herself as a ‘blank canvas’ compared to Josh’s detailed life plans. Of course, the book decides to focus more on the first point, making her narration easy to read but not as memorable. I hardly know anything about Isla and her complexities besides what I could figure out from the surface; she’s insecure and in love with Josh. Josh isn’t so interesting either, though he certainly insists he is. *rolls eyes* The problem with the characters is that there aren’t enough; the whole scheme only surrounds Josh and Isla’s whirlwind romance with an occasional (awkward) pop-in from Kurt, Isla’s best friend. We know more about their hook-ups and make-out sessions than their individual personalities.
The romance: Isla and Josh are cute, yes. They are probably the cheesiest and most romantic of all the couples in this series, but also the most confusing. Their relationship practically popped out of nowhere, and the justification for that is that they’ve both been crushing on each other for three years without letting each other know. One minute they’re glancing at each other and making some conversation, the next minute they’re making out. Both of them together are adorable, but their relationship escalated so quickly, where the reader can’t feel the tension and change in emotion involved with falling in love. Interestingly, for such an underdeveloped basis of a romance, the romance is incredibly overbearing throughout this book, overshadowing the characters’ true personalities and flaws. It’s annoying, because Josh and Isla are so needy and immature and cheesy sometimes, but other times they’re actually kind of cute. THE CONFLICT. UGH.
If y’all want an entertaining, cute, and easy to read romance with a typical formula, Isla And The Happily Ever After is probably the book for you. I was definitely expecting more than that from this book in terms of depth though, considering I’ve always thought Perkins’ novels blended deeper teenage themes and fluff pretty well. Still liked it though, and would definitely recommend it for anyone looking for pure fluffiness.