Isla and the Happily Ever After reminded me so much of its predecessors but was also different in so many ways; needless to say, this is one of my absIsla and the Happily Ever After reminded me so much of its predecessors but was also different in so many ways; needless to say, this is one of my absolute favorite YA romance trilogies ever. Perkins has done it again!
One of the ways in which Isla differed from its companions was through Isla's character. She took more time to warm up to than Anna and Lola, but there was a realness and grit to her that actually made it easier for me to empathize and connect with her. Life (even in a boarding school in Paris seemingly overflowing with swoon-worthy boys) is far from perfect, and Isla's realistic view portrayed that in a way that Anna never did. Whereas Anna and Lola may have been more 'fun' to read about and get to know, what Isla lacked in that regard, she more than made up for by her authenticity.
Still, despite this major difference, Isla and the Happily Ever After was written with the same hopeful, romantic and whimsical feel as its companions. This, in my opinion is what sets Perkins apart from all the other authors in this genre: the ability to capture seemingly ephemeral, beautiful moments and make them feel infinite and universal. It is why, two years after first reading it, I am still able to reread my favorite parts of Anna and the French Kiss with as much gusto and appreciation for the characters and the story as I did the first time. Brilliant.
My only complaint, or criticism, albeit small, of this book is that I wasn't completely cuckoo for Josh, as I was for Etiénne and Cricket – both totally different characters on opposing ends of the spectrum who nevertheless managed to sneak their ways into my heart. As soon as I met Isla, I was intrigued about her character, and excited to read more and find out more. However, if Isla was the centerpiece or the painting, Josh was the frame – still crucial to the plot, but in the background. I'm not complaining, because there were so many things this particular installation of the series had going for it that were not present in Anna or Lola, like Isla's best friend, Kurt, or Josh's art and graphic novels.
Following suit from Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, Isla and Josh fell hard for each other. Even though it happened comparatively faster and in a shorter time period than the other two novels, when the romance was in full throttle it was every bit as passionate and intense and wonderful as ever. Since the chase, or the build up is one of my favorite parts of any literary romance, I'm not sure how I felt about this rapid escalation, but it soon became inconsequential as I delved deeper into their relationship and the book.
If you can't tell how much I love this book and this series by now, my reviewing skills need to be in serious question, because my love for it is so strong it should be emanating and radiating from this review! I have mixed feelings as I write this review: happiness because I am so relieved and thankful that Perkins carried her streak of awesomeness and genius throughout till the end of the series and also devastation because, guys... it's over. ...more