Quick summary: Romantic, relaxing and bloody cute!
Also, Stephanie Perkins’ website is the prettiest thing ever, and I would recommend reading her books based solely on her aesthetic, no shame.
This is a series of three standalone books – it doesn’t really matter which order you read them in. I read them in the order listed above, and I think this makes the most sense because Anna and Etienne are mentioned in Lola’s book and Lola is mentioned in Isla’s etc.
These books were really refreshing to me because it came after I had a bit of a reading slump and struggled through a couple of series (yep, after reading ACOTAR which left me with a month and a half long book hangover…) I felt a little disheartened about my reading and needed a nice relaxing series to ease me back in – this was the perfect book for that. It was contemporary, fun, fresh and I wanted to be a part of their world so badly! As I’ve said before, I’m part hopeless romantic, part skeptic. This series threw me RIGHT off the deep end into romance land.
I loved the speed of development of the story between Anna and Etienne, and the subtle touches of knowledge about France and Europe in general, as a European, was so lovely. It fuelled my wanderlust to an unbelievable level and I found myself underlining places in France that I wanted to visit and books they mentioned I wanted to read.
It doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not; it’s a simple plot line, but fun and romantic, which is sometimes exactly what you need to read. The interaction between characters was cleverly thought through and the web of circumstances never faltered – you could really understand why the characters were interacting in the way they were and you could understand everyone’s thought processes. You fell in love as Anna fell in love, and hated as she hated.
The plot was really nicely constructed because it had just the right balance of tension and pace – we had to wait for at least 2/3 of the book for Etienne and Anna to get together, but this didn’t mean you got bored waiting for it to happen. In reality, it was quite the opposite. The anticipation of when they were going to finally fall hopelessly in love was what made it a page turner. The same can be said for the other two books in the series, Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After. Both of these books had the perfect amount of slow burn, and enough circumstances and situations that it didn’t become a boring, sappy love story with no plot.
One of the best aspects of these books for me was the characters and how they developed; how real they felt. They are love stories you felt could happen to you. None of the characters were perfect, and this was so refreshing because it made them more authentic. The slight discrepancies from the ideal vision of teenagers falling in love (eg Etienne being shorter than Anna, Lola and her costumes, Isla picking fights with Josh) made it so much more enjoyable because it was so much more relatable. Every teenager I know has moments where they think they are just a distraction to someone, or not good enough, and everyone has times where they say things they don’t mean and shouldn’t say. The presence of these universal truths in this series highlighted its enjoyable nature for me, and made me want all of the characters as my friends!
Ultimately, this is definitely going to be a series I reread (over and over again) It was the perfect summer series full of love, fun and travel, and there are now loads of places I want to visit. It was a hopeful collection of characters who inspire you to open your eyes a little bit and see the world differently. I recommend this book from every piece of romantic bibliophile in me.