Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

22 October, 2014 Reviews 10 comments

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie PerkinsIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #3
Published by Dutton Children's Books on August 14, 2014
Pages: 352
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

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 had the potential to be my favorite of this particular series, but instead fell to last place (And let me state that I didn’t like Lola, but probably would have liked it more if it had been released after Isla). I loved, loved, loved Anna and the French Kiss, the School of America in Paris, Isla, and Josh. And I really enjoyed the version of Isla and the Happily Ever After that I rewrote in my head while reading the actual book (this rewrite consisted mostly of strike-throughs, so it wasn’t too much additional work). My problem with the actual physical copy of this book? A creepy case of instalove.

It’s not fair! Anna and Etienne took the time to become the best of friends! Lola and Cricket were childhood friends! And Isla creepily feel in love with Josh three years before she ever really met him. Yes, yes, we can all relate to unrequited crushes. In high school, you see a cute guy or girl or stuffed animal and you discover their name and doodle it in your notebook. You fantasize about meeting him/her/it and having your first awkward conversation. You jokingly tell your friends about the wedding you’re already planning — jokingly! You don’t actually believe yourself actually in love with a person you’ve never actually met. Sorry, I’m italicizing all over the place. And maybe I’m wrong. Maybe people can relate to the way Isla feels and I’m the anomaly. If that’s the case and you’re a Stephanie Perkins fan, then this book is probably going to be a pretty amazing read for you. But if you’re like me, then you’ll most likely have a problem with the fact that just two months into their relationship, Isla and Josh cannot stand the idea of separation; they’re already declaring their love for each other; they’re abandoning their other friends and relationships in lieu of obsessing over each other; they’re planning their entire future together. Yeah, those things kind of ruined the book for me.

Which completely, entirely sucks because this book has so much going for it. The focus on Isla’s actual, real friendship with a person of the opposite sex is complete magic and I wish more books could do this as well as Isla does. The friendship between Isla and Kurt almost takes a front seat (can you use that phrase like that?) to the romantic relationship. Almost. Which is kind of huge! It’s also probably the thing that saved the book for me. Well, that, and the romance. As much as I didn’t love what went down with Isla and Josh, they were so adorably romantic that it warmed my heart over and over again (and made me wish I supported them!). Stephanie Perkins takes the cake for writing the most romantic scenes for all time, and for that reason, I will always read her books. But after Isla, I’ll forever be wary.

Basically, what worked: the romance, Perkins’s effortless writing style, the characterization (including Kurt and Isla’s entire family), and the setting.

What didn’t work: Isla’s and Josh’s instarelationship, the inclusion of favorite characters from the previous two books/the entire ending (they’re, unfortunately, related), the entire situation surrounding Josh’s graphic novel (which is kind of a major plot point — and a terrible one, at that).

The plot is unimaginative and unrealistic. The ending almost ruins Anna and the French Kiss for me. While I like Isla and Josh individually, together, they make me want to pull out my hair. That being said, I’ll probably reread this book for Perkins’s beautiful writing. However, I don’t feel like I can recommend it, which makes me all kinds of sad.



Kiona is an aspiring writer and graphic designer with a penchant for smooth, creamy espresso and all things pink. She has a hate-hate relationship with her kitten, Franklin, and is sometimes perceived as "too snarky" during job interviews. Whatever that means.

10 Responses to “Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins”

  1. Sophia

    I haven’t read Anna…or any of the series. But this sounds downright creepy! From what you’ve described, it sounds almost insulting that girls are portrayed like this. :/ It looks like I won’t be reading it anytime soon (or ever).
    Thanks~great review! 🙂

  2. Katherine

    I wasn’t a huge fan of Isla either, which was disappointing because I loved both Anna and Lola! My problems with Isla were similar to your’s – a very different tone than the rest in the series, and Isla’s overall problems with instalove and not being very welcoming to Josh in the relationship, especially when dealing with problems.
    Katherine recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Series I Want to StartMy Profile

  3. Steph Sinclair

    Ugh. Instalove. I enjoyed Anna enough, but wasn’t overly in love with it because sometimes Anna and the love interest made me want to bash my head into a wall. They took forever to get together and it felt drawn out unnecessarily. I’ll probably try out Lola since I do own it and maybe I’ll give Isla a try since Meg loved it so hard. Though, she also enjoyed The Queen of the Tearling and I hated it so… judging her. LOL. (I LOVE YOU, MEG!)

  4. Shannelle


    I seriously didn’t enjoy Isla at all, because there wasn’t all the cuteness or the couple getting to know each other and settle into their relationship. This one was just insanely rushed.
    Shannelle recently posted…ARC Review: CompulsionMy Profile

  5. Joséphine @ Word Revel

    I didn’t love Isla but I did like it more than Lola, which in turn I liked better than Anna. I felt Anna had more of an instalove thing going with Étienne and him still having a girlfriend while pursuing Anna didn’t sit right with me. So even though time didn’t expand as much in Isla, at least the sequence of events didn’t bother me as much.
    Joséphine @ Word Revel recently posted…The Significance of October 31: Reformation DayMy Profile

  6. Ari

    I didn’t have much luck with it either (but I did like it a bit better than Lola for some reason – that one didn’t work for me at all).

    I did like the first half (though it was a bit childish) and for me the part where the other characters come along was actually cute and it saved the ending.

    But the relationship between the 2 of them (the miscommunication, deciding your life based on the other after a few weeks of whatever), the graphic novel (and how Isla makes such a big deal out of her pure jealousy).. Pfff. I am not sure if it’s 3 or 2.5 stars after all. *sigh*
    Ari recently posted…Review: UnDividedMy Profile

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