Friday, 21 April 2017

Anna and the French Kiss Trilogy. Worth the Hype?

Every Spring/Summer, I see this series pop up all over the blogs and Booktube - it's like the YA Summer read. Since I recently just finished Isla and the Forever After - the final instalment in Stephanie Perkins' popular trilogy - I'm going to tell you if it's worth adding this to your Spring TBR.

So in theory, Stephanie Perkins has a really good concept going on here. really good idea. It's set in the fictional 'School of America in Paris (SOAP)' and each book centres on characters from a similar/connected friendship group over (I think), a period of 4 years.

Anna and the French Kiss
This book is based on Anna, a student at SOAP who is struggling with school and living in another country, learning French and keeping up with her own hobbies mainly, her film blog. I have to say this all sounds awfully familiar. Anywho, along the way she falls for Etienne St Clair - who is not single.

Anna and the French  Kiss is gooey and sweet and charming. For all its  drama and the flashy backdrop of Paris, it is also down to earth. It's not just fluff but goes subtly beneath the surface and explores other relationships outside the romantic ones. It's the perfect quick, light and uplifting summer read.  Unfortunately I felt like they all just got worse from here on out.

Lola and the Boy Next Door

The blurb:
"Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion ... she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit - more sparkly, more fun, more wild - the better. But even though Lola's style is outrageous, she's a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighbourhood. When Cricket - a gifted inventor - steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door."

*QUEUE EYE ROLL* Lola and the Boy Next Door felt like a a middle aged woman, trying to write teenagers and the "qualms" that they might go through. The characters were so contrived and had every stereotype possible thrown at them.  None of them felt real or authentic this story just pissed me off. 

Isla and the Happily Ever After
The book was a vast improvement from its predecessor.
I really enjoyed the way Perkins dealt with growing up and that awkward transition period you go through in your final year at school.

The book also features a main character writing a comic book which ended up being surprisingly moving.

Isla's best friend Kurt has high functioning autism and though I know very little about autism, it felt realistic. People with autism in both film and literature are often portrayed as being either sociopaths or geniuses and on top of that they're rarely humanised. While Kurt wasn't the book's subject, Perkins still spends time developing and fleshing him out as a character. I could tell she'd researched this, and all the little details such s his repetitiveness, inability to lie, his honesty, made me come away from this book, feeling like I'd learnt even more about autism.

The actual flesh of the book however, left very little to be desired. When reading Isla and the Happily Ever After, you could tell the author is trying to finish the series with a bang. Featuring a romance that takes the reader all across Europe, playing heavily on the "what do I do with my life once I leave school" theme and, bringing back all the old characters. But this wasn't done smoothly. The romance itself was completely cliched - shy girl falls for popular boy and popular boy actually likes her back but guess what, he has issues. And it just felt like all these teen drama tropes were being thrown at the story.

The dialogues were dry, fell flat and I found myself skipping through chunks of the book just to get to the end.

And! the book CONSTANTLY and I mean constantly brings up and Anna and St Clair from the first book. It's as if the book knows it isn't bringing much to the table so it tries to distract the reader by reminding them of better characters. All that did was made me wish I was reading Anna and the French Kiss instead.

In summary, just read the first one. 

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