Awww, this book was so adorable! Obviously, Anna and the French Kiss is one of the most popular YA books that’s come out in the past few years. Ever since I started book blogging, I felt like I couldn’t do anything without coming across other readers gushing about how amazing this book and this series is. So many people recommended it to me and promised me that it would be amazing…but I really wasn’t convinced. This book has been so hyped up that I was pretty positive I would hate it. Especially since, before this summer (I guess?!), I was really not a YA contemporary person at all. So, with super low expectations, I finally opened up this book a few days ago after very hesitantly deciding to participate in the Isla is Coming readalong, due to Kayla‘s multiple efforts to convince me that it was a good idea. Well, I’m so glad that I did.
YAY! Can I just take a second and congratulate myself that, for what feels like the first time, I actually enjoyed a fluffy teen romance?! I did read a few other sort-of fluffy reads this summer, but for some reason this one feels like the real accomplishment. You guys, I’ve been dying to like this sort of book for seemingly forever. I felt like I was missing out on such a huge part of the YA book lover community, and it just felt so wrong that I wasn’t able to like what seems like should be a really fun thing to read!
My favorite part about this book was Étienne St. Clair. I mean, duh. But he was just so…unexpected. I went into Anna assuming that it was going to be this sort of swoony puppy-love kind of book (I’m not sure why I thought this?), but I was so wrong! The romance in this book is one of the best examples of YA romance I’ve ever read. I loved how it was a very slow burn type of romance, but most of all that Étienne was this completely real and realistic person. He isn’t Edward or Daemon or anything of that nonsense…he is a normal teenage boy who looks and acts like a normal teenage boy, and Anna falls in love with him anyway. Or, more accurately, because he’s that way.
I also really loved this book’s setting. Like, a lot. I went into it (surprise, surprise) assuming that I wasn’t going to like the setting at all. I am most certainly not a Francophile — if anything, I actually kind of enjoy (good-naturedly) making fun of the French (if only because they’re just so goddamn French). So I was expected to be rolling my eyes at Anna’s Paris adventures, but I ended up being shocked by how much I truly enjoyed reading about her experiences with the city and at her boarding school.
I could continue going on and on about stuff I liked about this book (there really is quite a bit), but this review is already getting pretty long, so I think that I now need to talk about some of the stuff that I didn’t quite love about Anna and the French Kiss.
While I liked the fact that this book somehow convinced me that France maybe isn’t really all that bad, I wasn’t so keen on how Anna’s judgment of Americans had changed when she went back home for Christmas. She makes a few kind-of-mean comments that rubbed me the wrong way…just because you spend one semester in France doesn’t suddenly make you all fancy and allow you to look down on the people that you found absolutely nothing wrong with before you went away.
I also disliked two things about Anna and Étienne’s relationship. Firstly, one of my biggest book pet peeves is the whole “giant misunderstanding that would’ve never happened in real life” trope. And Anna totally has a huge one of those. Just…ugh. I didn’t like it. Secondly, I had some issues with the book’s treatment of Ellie throughout the story. She was portrayed as this mean girl with zero redeeming qualities, so it was hard to understand why she and Étienne were even with each other in the first place. And neither Anna or Étienne really gives a thought as to how their close friendship will affect her. I thought that it was kind of a realistic portrayal of how a situation like that might play out in real life, but I still had trouble respecting either of them at times, because how they treated her was pretty harsh.
But while there were some issues that I had with it, Anna and the French Kiss was still a quick, cute read that I was able to have a lot of fun with. It was unique and it surprised me…I couldn’t have asked for anything more! If you haven’t read it already (doubtful), I’d highly recommend it if you’re either already a fan of YA Contemporary…or if you’re not, this might be a good one to get your toes wet with!
This book was SO GOOD! After reading Anna and the French Kiss, I was excited to read Lola, but was also a little worried, because I’d heard a few people mention that it wasn’t quite as good. And since I rated Anna 3.5 stars, I made sure to set my expectations low for this one. But imagine my surprise when, out of nowhere, I completely fell in love with this book and liked it even more!
I really don’t even know how I’m going to be able to write a coherent review for this book. I just want to jump up and down and squeal, because it was adorable, funny, romantic, and just honestly perfect in every way. Lola is easily one of my favorite main characters ever. Not only is she unique, independent, artsy, hilarious…she’s also flawed, in the most realistic and appreciable way. I loved how flawed Lola was. And I loved watching her work through her issues, realize what she’d done wrong, and do everything to try and fix her mistakes. She was just awesome, and I dare you to read this book and not absolutely love her to pieces!
And then there’s Cricket….oh, Cricket. What can I even say about him? Besides that he’s just amazing and perfect and WHY aren’t there guys like him in real life??? (No offense, Brent! :P) I really liked how, sort of like with Étienne St. Claire in Anna and the French Kiss, Cricket is a normal guy. He doesn’t have a six pack, he doesn’t sparkle…but he is extremely tall, nerdy, and definitely a perfect match for Lola. YA has so many books with unrealistic examples of teenage love, but I think that Perkins does a great job of showing what love is supposed to look like in the real world. Even though you’re obviously going into these novels expecting HEAs aplenty, the relationships are still realistic, the characters are flawed, and they don’t all have squeaky clean pasts. I just really appreciate Perkins’ ability to create a fluffy YA romance without giving into all the bullshit that abounds in other similar books.
I feel like I could say so much more about how much I loved this book, but I don’t think that I’d be able to accurately express in words, beyond what I’ve already said, how great Lola and the Boy Next Door really is. If you haven’t already read this series — just do it. I can’t imagine anybody disliking these books.
Awwwww. This book totally stole my heart, you guys. I love Josh and Isla so, so, so much. To be honest, it didn’t quite live up to how good Lola and the Boy Next Door was for me, but it was still an absolutely fantastic read that I loved a lot.
I think that, out of all three narrators in this series, I could relate to Isla the most. She’s very quiet and reserved, and has a lot of trouble taking risks and struggles immensely with trying to figure out where she belongs in life. But she is so sweet and sincere — such a big heart, very patient and kind, and just an all-around great person.
I also really liked Josh, too. I think that I’d probably pick Cricket out of all three guys to be the male main character that I’d most want to date (although, if I was going to pick one of the girls, I really would have trouble deciding! Lola and Isla are both people I could totally see myself in a relationship with), but regardless, I still really liked Josh, and I thought that he was probably the most realistic love interest out of the bunch.
What made me not like this book as much as I was hoping I would (although, seriously, it was still great) was that I found it a little bit too obvious in terms of plot and I also thought it dragged slightly in the middle. For some reason, the plot thing bothered me more than I wanted it to. I could easily see how the whole story was going to unfold before it all happened, but I feel like the same thing happened during Anna and Lola, except it didn’t bother me as much. Maybe this final book in the series just seemed a little too formulaic after having gotten a sense of Perkins’ writing style in the previous two? I’m not sure. But I found myself becoming annoyed that the story wasn’t surprising me a little bit more.
I also thought that it dragged a little. For some of the book, Isla and Josh are separated by distance, and I didn’t really like that part of it. I found their chemistry together to be exciting and their togetherness was something that I was really enjoying reading about. So when they weren’t physically together, my interest levels went down, and their separation seemed to go on for a long time.
Overall, Isla and the Happily Ever After was a lovable, cute, and light-hearted read that was definitely the perfect ending to a wonderful series. I loved these books a lot more than I thought I would, and I’m so glad that I finally decided to pick them up this summer! I can’t wait to see what Perkins has in store for us next!