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.
This final novel in Stephanie Perkins wonderful trilogy has been the hardest for me to review. I began by liking it but somehow I didn’t love it. I loved parts of it but not the whole. But, the ending more than made up for any shortcomings. The ending smashed it. I read the final few chapters coming back on the bus. I was sitting opposite two young boys, and trying to keep my emotions in check!
This final story is more complex and mature than the previous two books in the trilogy. Somehow with the complexity, certain important aspects of the characterisation are lost. Josh intrigues me, but somehow I just don’t get a full enough picture of who he really is. I like the idea of Isla’s friend Kurt being an autistic boy but again I just don’t quite connect with his character as much as I would have liked to. In previous novels I felt that Stephanie Perkins did an admirable job in the development and portrayal of supporting characters, Lola’s two gay fathers coming to mind. Isla herself is shy, insecure, and prone to indecision. She is portrayed as being the blank canvas, waiting for her pages to be inked and her story to unfold. Again this idea really appeals to me, using art as an expression of personality but somehow it’s aim is maybe a little lost along the way.
The settings are intriguing. They just seem to be a bit like a faded watercolour painting and yet they should have been anything but with locations such as Barcelona, Paris, New York. Vibrant, exciting cities. So what happened? I think characterisation and location played second fiddle to the sheer passion of Josh and Isla’s love! All the time that they are walking through the streets of Barcelona, we are seeing Barcelona through the eyes of two would be lovers who aren’t really interested in the city sights, all they want to do is get back to the privacy of their hotel room as quickly as possible. When they reach the top of the hill we see Barcelona from a DISTANCE. They RUN past “Gaudi sculptures, Gaudi buildings, Gaudi’s famous lizard fountain, but they barely earn a glance as we whiz by. We only have eyes for each other.”
I like the way that Stephanie Perkins handled the more “grown-up” scenes in which Josh and Isla try to make out, these are often hampered by adults imposing rules on them! One of my favourite sexy quotes: “His lips press deeply against mine, and mine press deeply back. Our mouth open. Our tongues meet. We’re hungry, deliriously so. Even with my eyes closed, the shape of his body flashes before me, lit by the spectacle outside. Light, dark, light, dark. He tastes like champagne. He tastes like desire. He tastes like my deepest craving fulfilled.” This one too: “I trace the ink on my body. His beautiful illustrations are smeared with streaks of gooey chocolate. Reluctantly, I turn on my shower. The steam is already billowing when I climb in. The hot water hits me, and purple-black ink floods down my body. It touches everything. He is everywhere.” Whoa, Stephanie you’re getting carried away! Of the three books this one has the highest rating for hottest action that’s for sure!
HOT PEPPER ACTION! SMOULDERING HOT The final part of this novel managed to reach out and touch a nerve in me mimicking things that have happened to me in my own relationship. I, met my true love when I was very young too. When you fall in love at a young age obstacles seem to stack up, and uncertainties multiply, but if you have someone like Isla’s sister to bring you together as I did, then in the end it may all end happily ever after!
Stephanie Perkin’s final words in her acknowledgment are so beautiful : “Finally thank you to Jarrod Perkins. I’m crying now just because I typed your name. I love you more than anyone. Ever. Times a hundred million billion. Etienne, cricket, and Josh – they were all you, but none of them came even close to you. You are my best friend. You are my true love. You are my happily ever after.”
Highly recommended for readers of YA, Contemporary, Romance.
have you read Isla and The Happily Ever After? Do comment I’d love to hear from you.
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx