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.
may contain spoilers
I love everything about this book. Everything. I will admit though, as Anna and the French Kiss is still my favourite, it's a close second with Isla and the Happily Ever After. Anna and the French Kiss just has a special place in my heart, as well as having Etiene St. Clair through most of it, sigh, but this one was similar but it had so many different aspects to it.
First off, this one felt more mature. Anna had more of a high school feel to it, with the relationships and friendships, the studying and the Paris antics. Isla, however, focused more on Josh and Isla's relationship and how to be apart, their passion for art and their indecision of what happens in the future. She did go to class but it wasn't a focus point, neither was the 'getting about' or 'Paris' feel, as it was mostly centered around emotions. It was also her and contemplating her relationships with her family and best friend, Kurt. She really was more grown up than I expected her to and she very much grew through this book.
Josh definitely did, this was a side of him I didn't expect. I didn't realise they'd be together so soon in the book - although, I am pleased - and I do like how they handled being apart, the understanding and trust they had. Isla has the same issues that some people do have, which is the thought that they're not worthy of someone's love. Some of us have felt that before, and she did handle it in a realistic way. I understood where she was coming from when she ended things with Josh and I loved how mature it was all handled. She did cry for a bit but of course she would, she loves him, and yet it didn't drag on. It was enough to make it believable.
I thought this book would be more set in New York than Paris as it has a New York cover, but I don't mind., I've read enough books set in New York City and as Paris is my true love, I'm very much okay with that. It's like being reunited with an old friend. It's not as detailed as Anna but I still enjoyed it. Reading about it snowing just made me so happy, I'd love to visit Paris in the winter, it must be so romantic.
This book, compared to the others, were more character-orientated. It involved a lot of why Josh skips a lot of school - which we saw happened a lot in Anna -, his relationship with his parents, his more sensitive and emotional side, and we also saw a more romantic Josh. I liked that a lot. Josh and Isla got together near the start of the book, it didn't take long, and I liked how we saw the couple grow together. They really suit each other and they're well matched. Someone even mentioned to Isla near the end of the book that Josh suits a girl more like her than Rashmi, she was more fiery and as we saw in the first book, they argued quite a bit. When Josh and Isla have a problem - they talk. Josh expresses a lot of his troubles through his art, which I really liked. I'm not an art-y person but this worked really well. They have very similar interests and it really helped them communicate with each other.
How they got back together though - squee! - so adorable.
I'm going to be honest, the part when they went to Spain so they could have sex, I wasn't so sure about it. I don't see why they couldn't just go to a hotel nearby or even in the next town. I get that it helps the plot move along and for Josh to get expelled but still, going all the way to Barcelona to have sex. Dedication, right there. I won't take a star off for it, I still did like it, I just wasn't so crazy on the idea.
Moving on, the pacing was great, it was easy to read and the writing is lovely. Stephanie Perkins has a great way of writing the scenes when her couples are together, there's so much tenderness and romantic moments that makes you smile and get butterflies at how adorable it is. Each scene that she wrote meant something important to the characters or to the story. Nothing was just 'put in there' for the hell of it. I loved that.
I also love that the story wasn't just about her and Josh, but about family and friendships. Her and Kurt's relationship was up and down through this book because of how Isla treats him. She doesn't realise what she's doing and I think it's great that, as she's growing, she comes to terms with it all. She tries to make time for her friends, she also does the same for her family. Isla realises that she treats her family like friends, not spending enough time with them and being too harsh on her sister.
Isla really grew up and she handled everything in this book very well (Although the 'stalking Josh' part at the start is questionable) I know that she was a minor character in book one but from the beginning of this book onward, you see her maturity develop.
I have to mention this before finishing - the reunion. I need to insert a gif of some kind in here to show my excitement, as this was literally me when I saw the gang back again.
We got some of the other characters coming back and I was thrilled. Etienne came back! MY ST. CLAIR. Oh, how i missed you! He was his amazing and gorgeous self, with his funny come backs and romantic gestures towards Anna. Yep. That proposal had me squeeing like a Potterhead in Orlando. He takes her to Point Zero and just gets down in one knee, in front of their friends, AND SHE SAYS YES AND ALL IS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD. OT-freakin'-P. So many feels. Amazing to see them two again. We also got to see Lola and Cricket, which was cool, and Meredith.
Speaking of Meredith, when are we getting her book? She's all alone, and from that chapter in Isla, we can see that she's still struggling with St Clair being with Anna. Maybe she needs a man too. How about an Italian man from Rome? Hint Hint! I'd read it in a heartbeat.
Anyway, overall, this book was fantastic! It's now been added to my favourite books list and I'll be re-reading it in the future. The Anna series is in my top 5 and it's staying there. Romantic, adorable, funny and incredibly entertaining. I'm going to miss the happy times in Paris with these guys.
Five big stars from me.
Did you enjoy Isla and the Happily Ever After? Let us know what you think via the comments or on Twitter!
BOOK REVIEW: ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER BY STEPHANIE PERKINS
4/ 5Oleh The Honest Bookclub