By: Larissa | August 28, 2014 | (40) 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
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Release Date: August 14, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Pages: 339
Source: Bought it
Goodreads | Purchase

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

I’ve just finished this book and I feel as if I’m floating high on cloud nine. I’ll try my best to make this review coherent and not just endless gushing, but it’s quite difficult when Perkins writes these stories that just have such  an emotional impact on my mood. I went from having a semi bad day to feeling completely ecstatic while reading this novel. I think it really says something when an author can create such palpable and real emotions from words. It’s no doubt in my mind that Perkins has some sort of magic and clear talent when it comes to writing.

I found the main character to be utterly realistic, relatable and endearing. I couldn’t help but inherently relate to Isla, as I’m also in the same sort of position as her. I’m the same age and I’m definitely experiencing that feeling of uncertainty regarding the future. While I found the other stories in this series to focus more on the relationships (which is definitely okay with me too) you get so see Isla really grow and mature in this story. Isla and The Happily Ever After is every bit a romance as it is a story about growing up and dealing with that difficult time period right in between adulthood and the familiar teenage years. While reading this story I felt like I was also going on a journey with her and it would be quite fair to say there was plenty of well done character development with Isla. Though Isla wasn’t perfect, there were definitely circumstances in which I felt frustrated with her choices or ideas. However, Perkins gave me deep insight and snapshots of Isla’s reasons for these choices and it’s because of this that I was able to not only connect with Isla but also understand and sympathize with her.

Josh was the love interest and it’s quite clear to me that I fell for him just as much as Isla. What I love about this series is how Perkins continues to develop the love interests beyond just being love interests. They’re actually multi-dimensional and complex characters who add so much to the storyline. They certainly aren’t static and bring change to the main character, all while changing themselves. Josh was no exception to this and I couldn’t help but to adore him almost right from the very beginning. Like Isla he also continues to develop quite well, and I was interested to see how much importance was placed on his passion for art. He really fueled him and I could see that passion through Perkins’ words. Josh also had a very interesting relationship with his parents, they were largely absent from his life and it was partially due to his own doing.  This strained relationship definitely had an effect on Josh’s personality/actions and through the novel we do see some growth and change of the relationship which felt realistic to real life.

The romance, oh god the romance. It was a lot different from the other two books in the series. There was definitely some insta attraction going on with Josh and Isla. I would argue there wasn’t insta love though it was definitely more fast paced. I think that some could interpret Josh and Isla’s relationship to be insta love but I think it’s so much more than that. There was strong mutual attraction on both sides prior to the relationship starting and I think this definitely plays a factor in why the relationship moved along quicker than the norm. Their interactions with each other were plenty and definitely swoon worthy. It’s based on these interactions that a real connection could be forged between the two and it really did remind me of a genuine highschool relationship with how the two of them acted around each other. Honestly I couldn’t get enough of these two together. However the more quickly a relationship forms, the more quickly it crashes. This was done in a way that felt realistic and it made sense. Yes, I was mentally taxed (Perkins is a master at making you feel all of the emotions)  by how this great relationship turned completely around but it was done in a way that didn’t feel too dramatic and in the end things worked out in the best. It allowed for growth and rebirth of a relationship which was beautiful to see.

Something I enjoyed in Isla and The Happily Ever After is how there were many relationships showed, not just the main romantic one between Isla and Josh. There wasn’t on familial ones present but one between Isla and her best friend that made me sing. Her friendship with Kurt (her best friend) resonated with me on a very personal level. Kurt has high functioning autism which is exactly what my older brother has. I was a little nervous when I heard that this would be the case, but I was really worried for nothing. Perkins respectfully showcases what life is like for people who have high functioning autism and showcases some of the very real aspects of it, such as bullying and how awkwardly some people react to somebody with it. I couldn’t help but compare some of Kurt’s actions to my brothers. I can tell you in all honesty that high functioning autism is portrayed in a very realistic way. There’s obviously some differences between Kurt and my brother, but it’s clear that Perkins has done her research. Through Kurt’s repetitiveness, inability to lie and brute honesty I could really see pieces of my brother. Also,  I loved how Kurt was more than somebody with high functioning autism though, he was portrayed on a much deeper level. It was just wonderful to have Perkins to write a character like Kurt and it personally means so much to see this diversity and representation. I hope more people will be aware of high functioning autism and how it effects a person who has it when they read this story.

Isla and The Happily Ever After takes place in Paris, New York and even Barcelona. Perkins’ writing really transported me to these locations and even if they weren’t the centerpiece of the writing, I felt immersed in these places. There was descriptions of famous landmarks, food, people and much more that really just allowed the culture of these places to really shine. Sometimes in contemporaries I feel as if it doesn’t really matter where the story is set, or that the setting really could be anywhere. In Perkins’ novels it’s almost like the setting is a character itself, with vivid descriptions and it’s meaning to the characters. Isla and The Happily Ever After is no exception to this and I found the travel bug in me just buzzing. If I would have to pick a favorite location in this novel, it would be Barcelona. Oh god guys, Barcelona. Once you read the scenes in city you’ll understand why I’m so enamored.

Overall Isla and The Happily Ever After is a wonderful conclusion to the Anna and The French Kiss series. This book can definitely be read on its own though, but why wouldn’t you want to be swept up by the amazing romances, great writing and characters of this series?

5 Stars
The following two tabs change content below.
Larissa was born and still is living in the land of ice, snow and maple syrup. She's 18 years old and really has no idea what to do with her life lately. Larissa's plans are constantly changing--though there’s one thing has remained constant throughout her seventeen years, and that’s reading. It takes her to another world and puts her into impossible situations and that’s why she loves it so much.

Want more posts like this?

Subscribe via email to receive new posts on book reviews, bookish giveaways, discussions and more!

40 Responses to Review: Isla and The Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

  1. Melanie says:

    Squeeee you have me wanting to pick this one up like right now. It just sounds so brilliant 😀 I don’t mind instant attraction as along as it is believable and since you say that their interactions were sweet, well you have me convinced!

    Fab review, Larissa <33

    • Larissa says:

      It really was an amazing reading experience for me. The instant attraction definitely did work for me in this case and I think it will for you too.

      Thank you girl (:

  2. Due to some kind of weird circumstances, I haven’t written my ISLA review yet so I won’t read your review just yet, but I did peek at your rating and the first sentence. I’m so glad to see that you loved it! So much fun, right? And that SURPRISE at the end. 😀 Such a great series ender.Can’t wait to read your review when I’ve finally posted mine.
    Wendy Darling recently posted…Heir of Fire: ReviewMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Yeah I was wondering what was going on with that. I’ll definitely be on the look out for your ISLA review (: I’m glad that you enjoyed this one too though, and omg that surprise at the end was so wonderful.

  3. Awwww, Larissa! I’m so glad that this book had such a mesmerizing and positive effect on you. I love books that just instantly brighten your day (some can even be life-changing!)

    In that case, according to your review, Isla is someone we can all relate to. I’m 21 and I am STILL uncertain. I’m scared of the future and sometimes I’m even afraid to face it because I hate now knowing and charging head-on without any clue. Can… can we hug each other, please? *sniff*

    That’s awesome to know about Josh! I hate it when a love interest is introduced JUST to be the MC’s love interest. I want him or her to be more than that – I want them to be characters too with their own stories to tell. If ever I read this series, I’ll surely be looking forward to Josh THE MOST!

    Great review, doll. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
    Faye D’Social Potato recently posted…Potato Strip #1: Blog NameMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Awww yeah! This one definitely falls under the brightening your day category. I’m not sure if this book itself is life changing, but maybe the author is.

      Yup! I definitely saw a lot of myself and Isla and a lot of people my age in general. The future really is something that even know we know it’s present, it’s hard to truly be prepared and ready for all it throws at you. It’s just full of uncertainty and I’m definitely up for all of us hugging it out.

      Josh certainly was refreshing. There’s so much more to him than just being the love interest and I’m so glad that Perkins explores him in his entirety.

      Thank you <33

  4. Lola says:

    I can’t wait to read this series, everyone seems to love it so much. And I love likeable and realistic characters in my books. It’s great when not only the main, but also the side characetrs are interesting and well developed. Great Review!
    Lola recently posted…Book Blitz: Someone Like You by Karen RockMy Profile

  5. Yes, yes, YES! Aw, Larissa, I loved this review so much! Everything about this book was perfect, and you’ve summed it up! The relationship you had with Kurt was really inspiring. I bet that you related to Isla even more because of her situation and what her best friend had to do with it all. 🙂 I honestly loved Kurt, and he kept Isla strong the whole time.

    Stephanie really showed that love takes time to form… and through Josh and Isla, I saw so much more development and specialty than she wrote in the other books—although they all were magnificent.

    Beautiful review, Larissa! (You did fangirl and rave, girl!)

    • Larissa says:

      Awww I’m so glad you liked this. I’m glad that I was able to sum everything up here and that you agree. I loved the relationship with Kurt, may have been my favorite thing in the whole story. Kurt didn’t have such a obvious influence as Josh on Isla/her choices but he was definitely there and always so supportive.

      I agree! In this one you had a lot more obstacles and I felt as if there was a more realism element present in Isla/Josh’s relationship.

      Thank you! And I totally did oops

  6. So happy you loved this one, Ijust finished it last night and was very…underwhelmed 🙁
    Isla annoyed me a lot of times but I did love Josh and the ending 🙂
    Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed recently posted…Mood Board (4): My Heart & Other Black Holes!My Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Awww that’s disappointing /:
      I do get why Isla would annoy some, but I was able to sort of relate and understand her backlash because of being in a similar situation once.

      The ending was wonderful! Loved that surprise.

  7. I have this one on my blog today and I loved it as well. You are right on so many aspects. The romance, the characters, Kurt etc. I loved how well it was written and the emotional journey. I liked that the romance took root early unlike the other books and we experienced all the highs, lows and growing pains. I agree I struggled a bit with Isla’s decisions but then I got it because I remember feeling so of those same emotions after getting hurt. You are so afraid of getting hurt that you think it is easier to let go… Beautiful review, Larissa.
    Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings recently posted…Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie PerkinsMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Awww I’m so glad you loved it as much as I did. This one certainly was one heck of emotional journey, with a lot of downs that made you appreciate the ups even more. Isla’s decisions were something that I think a lot of readers will disagree with, but truthfully I can see reason behind them. Thank you so much Heidi <33

  8. Sounds completely wonderful, I know Mich loved this series including the last book! I love books that are set in exotic places and the romance between Isla and Josh sound powerful and sweet. I think I’ll really have to pick up this series, it sounds amazing and I love how it picked you up. Lovely review Larissa!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins Review: Devouring BrillianceMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      It truly was jeann c: You must try this series, reading it in its entirety has been such a joy. Romances that take place in such exotic locations are my favorite, my inner travel bug and romantic just freaks out.

      Thank you <33

  9. Zoe N. says:

    Don’t be mad at me, but I’ve never read anything by Stephanie Perkins, despite all the glowing reviews her books receive; but all the hype that’s been going for Isla has really shown me how passionate people are about her work on a completely different level.

    Your review makes me want to read this ASAP – I can feel your love for the story and the characters and the romance just radiating off the screen, and it’s wonderful. I think you’ve convinced me to give her work a try! Thanks for sharing Larissa, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3
    Zoe N. recently posted…The Islands at the End of the WorldMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      I’m not mad girl, just confused why you haven’t picked up this wonderful series yet [; I think that Perkins’ writing really does deserve all of the hype and praise it gets.

      Reading the story was quite emotional for me and I’m glad it exemplified how emotional the book was for me. I’m so glad I have convinced you to give Perkins’ work a try and I have no doubt that you’ll adore it.

      Thank you <33

  10. OMG! Should I stop writing this comment, go and pick up this book? Our local bookstores are brimming with Steph Perkins’ books. I love how this book sounds. I’ve read the synopsis of all three books and this one ranks second although that synopsis is really scary. What did the author mean by “reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever”?>.

    I love that this book is not only about the romance, that it’s also about Isla’s relationship with her autistic bestfriend. Very sad and poignant. And thanks for sharing that info about your brother. Great to know that least Perkins did the portrayal well and she didn’t do it just to manipulate the readers. Err~ sometimes, authors just randomly insert “special” characters as a sort of plaything whose main purpose is just to gather the sympathy of readers even though that character is already irrelevant to the plot.

    And bravo to the Isla’s journey to self-discovery. I am already 29 but I think I can still relate to her. I am a late bloomer so you can say that I am still undecided on what to do with my life. Of course, I’ve got plans but there are just so many plans that I am already confused as to the final path that I should take.

    And it’s always good to read a book wherein you are annoyed with the MC first then gradually find yourself warming up to her. That goes to show that the author developed the character right. 😀

    Awesome review, Larissa! I am going to pick up this series and hopefully, it will work out for me.
    Charlotte @ Thoughts and Pens recently posted…Book Tropes That I HateMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      YES YOU SHOULD. You should take advantage of the fact that your bookstores are full of Perkins’ wonderful work and buy them all c: Ooooo yeah, there’s not much I can say without spoiling the book regarding that ominous summary but let’s just say that ISLA includes not only love but also heartbreak..

      Yeah there’s just so much more to Perkins’ work than just the core love story and I think that’s what makes her series stand out to others in the same genre. There’s just so many other important relationships and inner conflicts going on. I definitely think the inclusion of Kurt was so much more than just being a plot device or emotional manipulation. His character felt very organic to the story and well done in my eyes.

      I think every reader should be able to relate to Isla on some level, or at one time would have been able to. I feel you on having so many passions and interests but not being able to hone in on one and decide that it’s all I want from life.

      Yep! It’s always better to see you gradually come to like the character rather than the opposite.

      Thank you <33 I'm confident that you'll love it.

  11. Kelly says:

    I was such a fan of Anna and Lola and can’t wait to get stuck into Isla. Besides the quirk, I really think the romantic and exotic locations of this series sweeps readers up and it’s no winder we fall in love. Isla sounds just as incredible. Fantastic review poppet <3 so excited that this didn't disappoint.
    Kelly recently posted…The Summer of Kicks by Dave HackettMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Yes! The locations in this series truly make my heart sing, it makes me want to fly out to Paris and experience it myself. Thank you Kelly! I hope you enjoy ISLA just as much as I did (:

  12. Tanja says:

    Once again I feel like black sheep. It’s not that I didn’t love this one as I truly did, but it didn’t leave such strong impact on me as it did on you. Somehow Lola as my girl in this series and I connected with her on some another level so it was wrong to expect I would connect with Isla on that level, still I did. However I totally agree, Perkins is really a mastermind and the way she can create atmosphere and fill the book with emotions. That’s simply amazing. I’m so happy you loved this one so much. Amazing review, girl 🙂
    Tanja recently posted…Cover Reveal: The Artisans by Julie ReeceMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Bahh, bahhh bahhh [; Awww, I’m sad to hear this one didn’t connect with you as well as Lola. However I do understand what you mean and it’s inherently in human nature to compare and contrast- definitely when we have enjoyed something so much in the past. I feel like the way you connected with Lola was the way I found myself with Isla and Anna. Lol actually it’s funny, I found myself the least able to connect to Lola.

      Thank you Tanja <33

  13. Jasprit says:

    Larissa you did such a great job of showing why you enjoyed this book. I pre-ordered a copy of this ages ago, but still haven’t been able to pick this book up *cries*, but I’m glad that I have so much awesomeness to look forward to! 🙂
    Jasprit recently posted…Movie recap: If I Stay.My Profile

  14. Larissa says:

    Awwwww thank you! It was actually something I was a little worried about. I didn’t want to go full fangirl mode but I also wanted to convey the impact this story had on me. Awww I hope you get the chance to read this one soon <33 There's definitely a lot of awesomeness to look forward too.

  15. Giselle says:

    Eeek I have been reading SO Many 5-star reviews on this book it sounds like I need to catch up, and fast! I loved book1, so I need to read Lola and this one. I love how memorable and REAL the characters seems to be – which is no surprise, knowing how awesome she was at fleshing out the characters in book 1. I also love that it’s not JUST the romance, but also has other relationships too which I always find makes a book stand out and become three dimensional. Great review, Larissa!
    Giselle recently posted…Review: MARY: The Summoning by Hillary MonahanMy Profile

  16. Larissa says:

    Yeah it’s been great for me to see others enjoying this one just as much as me. You do need to catch up girl, I’m sure reading both LOLA and ISLA will be incredible for you. The characters do really seem like real people in Perkins’ writing. I swear that her characters could be people I know in real life.

    Thank ya <33

  17. Valerie says:

    Ahhhhh I’m so glad you liked it! I’ve heard so many good things about this series and I have yet to read Anna and the French Kiss. AND it deals with autism accurately? That’s awesome! MULTI-DIMENSIONAL LOVE INTERESTS??? Count me in right now. I’m not sure if I officially added this to my TBR, but I will be doing that right now!

    Thanks for the awesome, fangirly review LARISSA~~~~~! I promise to start this series soon!
    Valerie recently posted…ARC Review: The Winter People (DNF’ed)My Profile

    • Larissa says:

      I really am too (: It’s been awhile since I read a book and could truly give it 5 stars. YOU HAVE TO READ IT OKAY GIRL. It definitely dealt with autism accurately and it made me so happy to see it in a realistic way. This better be high up on your TBR girl~~~~

      Thank you for the super lovely comment <33 and ya better girl, or else you'll have to deal with me [;

  18. I have gushed about Isla for a couple of weeks now and I don’t see myself stopping any time soon. Oh my god,this book is PERFECT. I love both Anna and Donna…but Isla was wow! It was Stephanie’s best work. I love everything about it, but of course the end of Chapter 30 was my favorite.

    Isla and the Happily Ever After is probably the best book I’ve read this year.

    Awesome review, Larissa!
    Joy @ The Bookshelf Intruder recently posted…Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After is PERFECTMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      YESSSS NEVER STOP <33 haha I feel like I'm the same way. The book was simply amazing. I loved it, I think it may be tied for my favorite with ANNA. Yes! Chapter 30 was just insane and that ending was perfect.

      Honestly I'm leaning towards that way of thinking too.

      Thank you <33

  19. Wonderful review Larissa I can just feel your feelings. Does that make sense? LOL I have yet to read a Perkins book but I am determined to fix that soon
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway- To See the Moon Again by Jamie Langston TurnerMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Thank you <33 It does make sense and I'm glad that I was able to express my feelings for this novel on the same level it effected me c: You must girl! This series is just incredible.

  20. Siiri says:

    SORRY LOVELY!!! I don’t want to read any reviews for this until I’m done reading it myself, but I’m glad to see from your rating that you loved it 🙂 YAYYYY!!!
    Siiri recently posted…Review: Come Back to Me by Mila GrayMy Profile

  21. Absolutely fabulous review, Larissa! I’m so glad you loved this. I can’t wait to get a chance to read it later this month.
    Ebony @ Daring Damsels recently posted…Book Review – Noggin by John Corey WhaleyMy Profile

  22. Camille Galvez says:

    I LOVE this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Pingback: Fangirl Collab: Isla and the Happily Ever After Playlist

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge