Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins Review: Devouring Brilliance

August 27, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 5 stars, Books, Reviews

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins Review: Devouring BrillianceIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #3
Published by Dutton Books on August 14, 2014
Source: Purchased
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository
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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.

Prepare for a full on rave. Details below. 🙂

“Oh.” My shoulders sag. “You want to draw.” “Yes. You.” That perks me up. I try to hand him a sketchbook, but he refuses it. “No,” he says. “I want to draw on you.”

I’ve been waiting two years for this book. After finishing Lola and the Boy Next Door, I was ready for this. I mean, we all have. Stephanie Perkins is truly the Jane Austen of this generation, and her books are so alluring and make you envious for romance.

Surprise, surprise, this is the best book that I’ve read this year. As you may know, Stephanie Perkins’s writing is full of lush and sexiness. After reading this, you’ll need a bulldozer-sized fan to cool the steam away from you. It’s sexy, wanted, and hateful because you’re going to want to go on a mission to sneak Josh away from Isla.

Short story short—Isla has loved Josh for three years. She’s shy and lonely, and he’s dated a girl who he once travelled to India with. She’s stalked him from afar, until she “met him” back in New York when they both travelled home for summer from their Paris boarding school. Over the next year, they fall in love. It’s the picture-perfect romance. Hand-holding, sweet kisses, new firsts, gorgeous moments. Of course, at the same time, everything that surrounds them isn’t all-perfect as their love is. Josh has been taking risks for their relationship, and that ruins everything and they’ll need to have a long-term relationship. Isla depresses, but at least she has her autistic best friend with her to pick up the pieces. And then, without spreading any spoilers, things break apart… But will they go put back together again?

“Your hand,” he repeats. “Give it to me.” I extend my shaking right hand. And—in a moment that is a hundred dreams come true—Joshua Wasserstein laces his fingers through mine. A staggering shock of energy shoots straight into my veins. Straight into my heart. “There,” he says. “I’ve been waiting a long time to do that.” Not nearly as long as I’ve been waiting.”

This book had so many picture-perfect moments that you just want to snag away into your heart. Steph Perkins may have had trouble forming this, but she made it and I’m so thankful that this book has came into my life. Whoa—I sound like I’m talking about a boyfriend or something; but this book is my boyfriend and so is Josh!

As the story began, I was in love. I literally sat there with hearts in my eyes. It took me about a day to read this, but I savoured and enjoyed every devouring moment. I took my time—no rush! But through it all, the story went by really fast! This was a love story that was formed from the heavens, I tell you—with dark moments that occurred to the characters.

Isla was a wallflower. That’s who she was, and I can really relate to her, because that’s my personality. During many moments, I thought about how I would do the same thing in her situation, and that made me love her even more. People have noted that she was weak, but that’s what comes in a true love story. You can’t have a strong character because then it’s not real love because love has its own troubles and weaknesses. The fact that it’s not perfect makes it perfect. That was deep.

In a way, this book isn’t all sparks and fireworks and fireflies. It had its troubles inside. Josh’s life was difficult, and Stephanie made sure to show that to us. He lived a tough life, but thankfully he may or may not have gotten his happily ever after in the end. <3

I bought this pillow after finishing this book:

JK. But I’m only kidding because I don’t know where to find it. Otherwise, I’d have a pillow mailed out to all of you suckers. 🙂

Josh was hot, steamy, and all of the sexy qualities you can imagine. He made my heart race just like if I was the one falling in love with him. I’d seriously do anything to have a moment with him. *awes*

Last quote, I promise.

“Do you want anymore tattoos?” “I don’t know. Maybe someday I’ll get a big garden rose on my other arm.” “Ha-ha.” “I would.” And he sounds hurt that I don’t believe him. “I want a lot more of these nights with you, Isla. I want all my nights with you.”

I hope you understand my raving now. Details above. 🙂


This book was everything I was looking for in a perfect novel. It was heart-pounding, crazy, and wild. But that’s the thing—love is wild, and Stephanie Perkins has absolutely proved it. To this day, I can’t get Isla and Josh’s love out of my mind. I’m lovesick!

Rating: 5 out of 5


(I added six stars because it was just too phenomenal. Tee hee)

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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73 responses to “Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins Review: Devouring Brilliance

  1. Yay! This is the last one in the series, sadly. I'd read anything this woman writes! Lola was probably the worst one (but that doesn't mean that it wasn't amazing either haha) and this was the best! Ah, it really was! I don't know! I want it, haha. I'd squeeze it tight all night!

  2. Ah! Your review literally made me go to the book depository and order this! I can't wait!!! I'm such a big Stephanie Perkins fan and I can't get enough of her stories. Do you know whether this is her last one in this series? I really loved Anna and the French Kiss but Lola and the Boy Next Door (jeez long titles!) wasn't as good in my opinion, so I wonder where this one will stand. Judging from your review it'll be great!!!

    And btw, where can i get that pillow??? I must buy it!

    • Heeeyyy hun! Yes, come back once you do! I really hope that you'll be gushing the same way I am (and did) here! But I'm sure you will—there's almost been NO negative reviews on it! ;D Six stars is worth awhile, hehe.

  3. Oh Michelle! How I adored this book!!

    I hadn't read Anna or Lola before this year and I read them both before Isla's release day and I'm absolutely in love with Stephanie Perkin's writing style and voice!

    Isla might have been my favourite book of the lot cause of all the travelling and how even if both characters were flawed and made mistakes, they also never stopped fighting!

    Great review!
    Pili recently posted…Friday Reads: Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre!!My Profile

    • YES! I noticed! You were part of the readalong, right? I sure wish I could've been part of it haha, but my schedule at the time was hectic! It's always awesome to binge read a trilogy or series before a new book is released, I get so jealous when I see newbies who're introduced to Cassandra Clare's books doing that! Oh yes! Isla is just the best. Their relationship was all perfect at times, when at others, yes, they were fighting like cats and dogs! That shows the probability of a real relationship! Thank you, lovely!

  4. Yes, yes, yes, yes!!! SO HAPPY! I loved your review, you have got me beyond excited to read this book. It sounds like it's going to be everything I wanted and more. Great review 🙂

  5. Aaaah I so have to read Lola and catch up with this one it sounds like everyone really LOVES it! I loved the first book and for no reason never picked up Lola! I know, right? What's wrong here?? It sounds like the series is really not letting up in its awesomeness, though. I loved how fleshed out the characters and how full of chemistry the romance was in the first book, and it sounds like this one is just as memorable!! Picture perfect moments are often super cheesy or annoying but somehow Perkins just does it right! I love it! Oh and – Veronica Mars gif FTW!! 😀

    Great review, Michelle! 🙂
    Giselle recently posted…Review: MARY: The Summoning by Hillary MonahanMy Profile

    • Aw, that always happens to me, Giselle! How many sequels I still have to read… *counts for 5 hours straight* There's so many ways I can describe this amazing author's work—and I absolutely agree! Here you have the most realistic characters that can be formed in a contemporary read! <3 I still have to watch Veronica Mars LOL but I love Kristen Bell! Thank you, Giselle! 😀

  6. Ah, yay! I always get so excited when I get to see that people then decide to read the book I'm talking about next… ^-^ Oh gosh, yes! There's just so many ways to describe Stephanie's books and captivation! Thanks, Kelly! <3 I'm looking forward to hear your thoughts on this pretty!

  7. Thanks, lovely! <3 Same! It's so loved… I feel like a proud mother when I keep seeing positive reviews everywhere! Yeah… Lola was released in late 2011… so it's been about two years. Oh, yes it was! It was originally supposed to be released last year and then it got delayed for some reason…. And my heart tear to sheds. LOL I barely decide to give books an extra stars! (It's for the special, <b> special ones *glows eyes*)

  8. Oh. I'm sorry you didn't find this intriguing as many of others had, but I do agree with that if you don't like realistic fiction, then the book may not be the best fit. It can go either way for everyone, I guess! Isla and Josh were the best couple! Ahh… I COULDN'T IMAGINE HER BEING TALLER THAN HIM TOO LOLOL! I thought I was the only one! xD Thank you, Chyna! 😀

  9. LOL! I guess that was what I was trying to accomplish for everyone! xDD LOL that's exactly how I felt when I saw photos of the ARCs of this one, beforehand! -.- I begged and begged Penguin, but no word. Hmmph. I can't wait to hear your fabulous thoughts, Sunny! Thank you, hun! <3

  10. Well now, I'm definitely reading this one next. I'm excited after just reading your review, I'll be delirious when I crack open the cover. She really is a brilliant modern day romance author who knows exactly how to sweep readers of their feet. Incredible review Michelle, I know what I'm.doing with my Saturday night now <3
    Kelly recently posted…The Summer of Kicks by Dave HackettMy Profile

  11. Amazing review, Michelle! I don't think I've seen a single negative review for this one. I didn't know that it took 2 years for this book to come out. For you Stephanie Perkin fans, it must have been a hella of a wait, but I'm sure it was all worth it in the end (I mean, 6 stars! Damn! That's amazing!)
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  12. I didn't get to love it as much as you did. I just don't prefer realistic fiction. I did enjoy it, though. It's her best work so far. Anna wasn't all that good…I find this couple the best among the three, I saw them fit together. Lola kinda freaked me out…I couldn't love the idea of Anna being taller than Etienne. HAHA I'm so picky! But I'm glad you loved this. <3
    Chyna @ Lite-Rate-Tu recently posted…Bookish thoughts: Incredibly uncouth commentsMy Profile

  13. eeeek Michelle!!!!! This review just makes me warm and happy 🙂 I haven't read any of these books yet. I have the first two and won Isla in a giveaway (it hasn't come in yet). I'm thrilled you enjoyed it after a two year wait (reminds me of the agonizing wait for CoHF)! I'm glad this book has deep characters and tough moments to work through. It makes it all more realistic. Lovely review as usual 🙂 I WANT THAT PILLOW. Lovely review hon <3
    Rachel @A Perfection recently posted…ARC Review ~ Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini + GiveawayMy Profile

    • Aww! <3 Thank you so much, lovely! Oh my, that's awesome! Now you can binge read them all together without having to go through the depressing wait. OH GOSH, the wait for COHF was horrible—I barely survived. But at least we got an amazing ending to TID the year before that kept me going… I can't survive without Cassie Clare's writing for more than a year! LOLLLL, same! I'll do whatever it takes to find it. ;D

  14. We've all been waiting, Mich. But my wait is not yet over. Isla recently came out in hardback here. Hardback?! It's really ridiculous since all the other books in this series are in paperback. Now, I have to wait some more until the paperback comes out. *shakes fists* Anyway, I'm really glad you enjoyed this because at least it's worth the wait. I am going to buy a bulldozer-sized fan too. Thanks for the heads up! Fantastic review, Mich! I'm glad Isla delivered. 😀
    Sarah @ Smitten over recently posted…Review: The Case of the Stolen Sixpence by Holly Webb, Marion LindsayMy Profile

    • Yes we have, Sar! It's felt like it's been millenniums since I've read Lola! *gushes* I KNOW! The other two weren't ever in hardback… At least from what I can recall here. Yeah, they went through major cover changes, but no hardcovers here. This was my most anticipated read of the year, so I had to get it once it was released. xD It's so worth the wait, although it's going to take a while for it to be released in paperback. 🙁 I'll send you my bulldozer-sized fan! They're pretty pricy to get these days… And rare. xDD Thank you, hun! <3

    • After reading these three, Anna is the most independent and confident girl out of the three. I loved her story from the start, and I was so happy for her during that scene in Chapter 30. *cough cough amazingness* This series's given me wanderlust, and I've just came back from vacation! xD

  15. I'm afraid I've never read anything by Stephanie Perkins, but I've constantly been hearing such great things about her books that I think I'll give up and try it whenever the reading schedule gives me a break. (Good luck with that, I know!) Great review, I'm happy you loved this instalment so much! 🙂
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  16. 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 Michelle, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3

    • Oh, my! That's horrifying! You have to, as soon as possible, Zoe! Yeah, we are such a passionate crew of die-hard Anna/Lola/Isla fans. For a book like this, I guess we all will try to get as many people as possible to read the trilogy and love it!

      Thank you so much, hun! I really do hope that you'll get to this beautifying series soon! <3

  17. Great review Michelle! I keep hearing good things about this series and I really want to read the first book and see if I enjoy it as much as everyone else seems to.
    Lola recently posted…Sunday Post #88My Profile

  18. Celine

    I'm afraid I had to skim your review because I plan on reading this very soon and I don't want to know anything going in, but I gather you liked it? *coughs*

    Basically I've seen everyone rave about this, so I hope my expectations aren't too high because of all the glowing reviews. *bites nails* Oh well, only one way to find out, right? GAHHH you really make me want to read this right now. I may have to cheat on my schedule.

    Lovely review (well, the parts I didn't skim anyway 😛 ), Michelle!

    • LIKED IT? Girl, I devoured, adored, and stored it in my heart! *hands you the key so you can grab it out* Cheat, cheat, cheat… *whispers* Oh, I just know that you're going to love this. Who wouldn't? It's 339 pages of perfection! Yes, I went on GR to check… Thank you, lovely!

  19. Damn! If I knew you had a bulldozer-sized fan I'd make you send it to me after reading this one as yeah that was just what I needed then. I really enjoyed Isla's story even though she is my last fave girl from this series. I'm still all Lola, but Isla is a cute little thing. I'm so happy you enjoyed this one and yeah it was worth all the wait. Great review, Michelle 🙂
    Tanja recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (#110)My Profile

    • Aw, man! I'll save it for the next time something steamy like this comes up. Just remind me! xD Lola is one wild chick, I have to admit. Especially because of the hair. *gushes* She's the only one out of the three who can pull that off with her personality! Thank you, Tanja! <3

    • It's getting so popular, I'M CRYING! What a milestone… It's good in one way or another—good because it deserves to be popular, and bad because I don't want everyone to know about it! :'( Hah!

  20. So this series has been on my book radar and I'm not sure why I've been hesitant to read it. All my friends RAVE about this story…for every book. AND you gave this particular book 6 stars. Not 5 BUT 6! Holy cannoli batman…that's some serious love you have for everything that's Anna and the French Kiss series! Fabulous review Michelle! 🙂
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    • Totally! 6 stars is like loving the book to the moon and back. Gosh, I just can't even describe my love for this! I'd buy every swag that there is of this series if possible. xD I'm going to be begging my kids in the future to read this… Even if they're boys who can't stand to see kissing. LOL. Thank you, Cristina!

    • LOL, Nick! No worries, haha! It's always the best when you head onto a book with your own feel to it. Sometimes books are so raved about (*cough cough* THG) and you just don't know what to expect. And it totally sucks if it was bad when you've heard that it was good! 😀

  21. Oh Mich all of your raving plus everyone else's excitement over this series makes me want to pick up the first and read it! I love the new covers side by side as well! I need to get to know Josh 🙂

    • I knew that a ton of people are going crazy for this series… But I didn't know that there were that many fangirls. LOL I'm so happy to hear about the feels and raving these peeps were going through—and I think that you should seriously join in. NOWWWW. Josh's waiting for you to meet him!

  22. Bec

    I'll admit that I judged these books unfairly by their covers. But this review has definitely changed my mind. I'll be reading Isla and the Happily Ever After at some point in the foreseeable future. Once I get through my currently TBR list, that is.
    Bec recently posted…Explorin’ Bloglovin’My Profile

    • Really? I adored the covers! Well, everyone has a different liking haha. Thank you! You definitely have to, Bec! TBR lists don't ever shut up, do they, haha. I wish there were 503, 345 hours in a day so I can get to all of the books in the world… *dreams*

  23. Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes!! I don't even need to write a review because you've just summed up the whole thing for me 😀 I read it in a day, because I just couldn't help myself, and loved every second. I just wanted to squeal several times.

    ESPECIALLY at the end when the thing happens with those characters. You know. Or I hope you know what I'm talking about. I don't want to spoil it for everyone!!! I just want to read all three in a row and die in blissful happiness 😛
    Emily @ The Loony Te recently posted…Book Blurbs From Titles – Part Two!My Profile

    • Aw! *blushes* That makes me so happy, haha, thank you! Ah, same! When a book is so good that you can finish it in one sitting, then it's truly a keeper. I'll never let this book out of my mind!

      AHHHHHHH YES! Gosh, we had such a beautiful reunion and then that plot twist! *fidgets around with happiness* I feel like raving and writing another review for this all over again! xD I'm definitely re-reading this series again one day… It was all a dream!

  24. Yay! Your love for this book is almost tangible, Michelle! Hahahahaha. I am still on the fence whether to pick up the series or not. Those negative reviews really made things difficult for me. I really love the premise of this one. Oh dear, is Josh a broken boy? I hate to say this but I really have a penchant for broken boys. The maternal side of my personality always want to swoop in and fix the poor soul.

    Should I jump into the bandwagon or scour Goodreads to read negative reviews? Argh! Lovely review, Michelle! Good to know that this one contributed to the awesomeness of the series.
    Charlotte @ Thoughts recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday {5}: Books I Really Want To Read But Don’t Own YetMy Profile

    • Haha, no one can gear me away from my love of this beautiful book! Do you like contemporary? Of course, you do, who doesn't love contemporary? This is the mistress, the goddess of contemporary YA. It's my all-time favourite chick-lit series, and better yet, it's a trilogy with alluring characters! The negative reviews sadden me… But I do have to say that there are far more positive ones! Aw, yes! Josh and Isla were both broken characters, but together, they created a happy whole. I agree—I just want to hug them and cure the depression and brokenness that was created in their personalities haha.

      NOOO. Trust my word when I say this—go for this. I've only read a couple bad reviews for the series, but I can honestly say that anyone can love this trilogy, young or old. Thank you, lovely! I really do hope that you take the chance and go for this splendid warmth of fuzziness. XD

  25. laila BC

    Great review 😉 i got here via my fellow bookworm Joy of Bookshelf Intruder… believe me i know why we are all raving and CRYING madly in love about this book <3 Like Joy pointed out, Josh is like the best of Etienne and Cricket… which makes him almost perfect. Gaaaahhhh!

    • Thank you, Ialia! Ahh, I totally owe Joy for bringing these awesome bookworms up here. ;D I just can't even imagine why or how people can give this negative review! It tears me up, honestly. JOOOSSSHHHHH! I need a t-shirt that says "Josh is my everything" or something like that because he can't stay out of my mind, haha.

  26. I totally understand your gushing because my review was full of raves, too! I love Isla and Josh. I didn't expect this book to be better than Anna… but it turned out to be this perfect, amazing book that I can tell my grandkids about in the future. I love it more than I love Anna, and that's saying a lot because I totally love Anna. And Josh, ohmigod. I love Etienne, I adore Cricket, but man! I definitely want to steal Josh away from Isla (and the only thing stopping me is the fact that Isla and Josh are made for each other)! He is heaven.

    I've said this in my review and I want to say it again: Stephanie Perkins outdid herself here. She's made a gem. I love, love, love Isla and the Happily Ever After and it's one of the best books I've ever read. And I don't know when I'll stop gushing.

    Great review! So glad I found another fangirl. 🙂
    Joy @ The Bookshelf recently posted…Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After is PERFECTMy Profile

    • Yes, yes it was, Joy! But it was brilliant! Same here! Before Isla, Anna was the best one. Her story began everything and the relationship between her and Etienne is epic and priceless. But now, this has topped the list and beyond. LOL! I'll be sure to tell mine about this too, if something better doesn't come along. (LOL JK) Yeah, I was planning that we'd both go on a ninja hunt to steal him, but that would just break Isla's full-happy heart, and I love Isla! xD

      Ah! Reading Stephanie Perkins is like watching chocolate on a chocolate fountain—lush, slow, and devouring. Thank you so much!

    • OMG START RIGHT AWAY! But I'd recommend beginning with Anna and moving on through with 1, 2 and then this because there's a huge spoiler at the end of this that can ruin your whole reading experience with the other books, haha. But I have to say, this is the best out of the three. I can't wait to hear what you think of this adoring series of mine! Thank you so much!

  27. Larissa Holt

    YES! I finished this one a week ago and I'm still dying from the cuteness and amazingness that was this story. My review is definitely a gushing mess. I adored it and also gave Isla five glowing stars :]

    Stephanie Perkins really is my favorite contemporary writer, along with Kasie West. Her words just flow and make me devour them. They're also just emotionally palpable and suck me right into the emotions of the characters and truly make me FEEL. …..should I mention Barcelona?? Screw it, I totally am. The scenes there HOLY. They were amazing and easily my favorite of the book. They felt so real and I was literally smiling like a fool the whole time reading them.

    Josh was also amazing ugh. I literally fell for him just like Isla. He really stood out to me as not only as a love interest but an actual character with his own emotions/conflicts that were separate from Isla's. It was great to read a novel which showcased not only the couple's turmoil but their own singular relationship troubles.

    Great review girl <33 So glad to hear that this one left just as big as a impact as it did on me.

    • Preach, girl! I could've made this a gushing mess LOL but I finally got some sense of self-control and went calm with this whole situation and the book-hangover its given me.

      Ah, Kasie West is so magnificent as well! I love how she writes both sci-fi and contemporary! (I still have to finish Split Second though. Getting to that soon!) OMG BARCELONA. YAAASSS THAT WAS MY FAVOURITE SCENE TOO. During those scenes, I think I secretly re-read every paragraph twice to catch the meaning before moving on, LOL!

      Josh was… memorable. He was special and one of the most real guys that I've ever read about. You'd think that a guy who usually gets what he wants has a perfect spoiled life, but the conflict with his family and his social relationships were troubled… And that made everything so much better.

      Thanks a million, Larissa! <3