Isla and the Happily Ever After

Isla Martin is a seventeen year old girl from New York attending the School of America in Paris. The summer before her last year she meets a classmate at a café in New York. But it isn’t just anyone, it’s Joshua Wasserstein, the guy she’s had a crush on since her first year at the school. Believing that he would never fall for her after their embarrassing encounter, Isla returns to Paris only to find out that her crush has a crush on her. They start dating and for a time everything Isla has ever wanted seems to be in her reach. But after a reckless choice Isla and Josh is forced to spend some time apart and Isla starts doubting not only their love but Josh as well. Her hopes and dreams seem, suddenly, further away than ever before.

On this, the third time that I read Stephanie Perkins’ Isla and the Happily Ever After, something changed. I've loved it before but now I found it almost childish. Isla is a shy girl whom I see myself in, at times, or at least did before. The way she was thinking throughout the novel, the way she acted and the choices she made no longer felt like me, like something I could completely understand. At times she was too naïve and at other times too doubtful. A big part of the story is spent going over her regrets and her sadness, but I couldn’t feel any compassion anymore.

It’s weird seeing something that I liked so much before has changed, but I realized that the actual novel hasn’t changed, but instead it’s me. It’s sad, because I really want to continue loving Isla and the Happily Ever After the way I used to, but I know that nothing will be the same again. I know for sure that I will return to this novel again in the future, but I also know that it won’t be as soon as I’d thought. However, for people who love contemporary novels, Perkins’ stories are among the best in my opinion and I will still recommend them to anyone who is in the mood for something light, something sweet and something that I think we all hope to have, one day.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Said to be the last Harry Potter book, the eight story set 19 years after the battle at Hogwarts, is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Similar to Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, this is a manuscript, not an actual book. I still wanted to read it though, curious as to how Harry and his friends are living now and what's happening with his children. You get a small glimpse of this in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but this story goes more in-depth.

We meet Albus Potter, Harry’s second son and the middle of three children Harry and Ginny have. He is living in the shadow of his father and makes the choice to befriend Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpious, rumoured to be the son of Voldemort, on that first trip to Hogwarts. During the Sorting Ceremony, Albus is sorted into Slytherin, to everyone’s surprise and it just goes downhill from there. Albus and Scorpious continue to be friends but they’re outcasts and considered losers. When Albus overhears a conversation between his father and Cedric Diggory’s father, Amos, and then meets Cedric’s cousin, Delphi, Albus starts to think. So many people had to die for The Boy Who Lived, what if Albus would try to save one of them? Together with Scorpious, Albus heads back in time, trying to save Cedric but only causing mayhem instead. And in the shadows waits a person who could destroy everything Harry Potter and his friends did nineteen years ago.

Now, you can’t really say anything about the writing since it was a manuscript. The characters, however, didn’t always seem quite like themselves. Of course, Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny and Draco have grown up and it’s only logical that they’ve changed since their time at Hogwarts. But sometimes they did things or said things that seemed so out of character and Harry especially was quite different. Albus and Scorpious was fun to get to know, but they seemed two-dimensional and lacked depth. The story is basically about a boy who feels like he’s invisible and living in his father’s shadow and to solve this he must do something big to show everyone that he is capable as well. Sadly, the thing Albus choses to do have huge ramification. It seems like I have managed to pick out two books in a very short amount of time with two very different characters who choses to play with time travel without ever stopping to think about what that can do to the present. Albus rushes into everything and while he’s only fourteen he’s still very naïve. The whole story is pretty much just about him and his daddy-issues which was not quite what I had in mind when I picked it up. Scorpious, as well, lacks depth and is just Albus Hermione, really. That friend who knows everything and saves his life when there’s a need for it.

The actual plot of the story is about the possibility of Voldemort rising again and that there might be a child of his somewhere out there. I found it rather interesting, if a bit unnecessary. This all feels done, really, after seven books and eight movies about Harry defeating Voldemort again and again. An eight story is actually a bit too much and I think this proves that a series ends where it does for a reason. You keep going and you wreak the entire thing. I know it’s a play but I don’t think I would’ve liked it anyway. Albus and his attempts to “do what his dad didn’t” – save a life sacrificed for Harry’s – by going back in time is so stupid I don’t even know were to begin. The only good thing in this story is seeing Harry working so hard to get closer to Albus. His other children, James and Lily, barely appears in the story and neither does Hermione or Ron’s. Not one of Ron’s parents or his siblings, beside Ginny, pops up, which I thought was rather boring. Hagrid only makes a brief flashback appearance. It was sad to see so many great characters left out when the new ones were so empty and shallow.

I felt like so much more could’ve been done with this story and I really feel like they should’ve gone to those lengths when they decided to go back to Harry’s world. This story needed something big to be awoken and the story of Albus and Voldemort’s potential child was not it. It was pretty much all the Harry Potter-books pressed together into one, much shorter, story. Friendship, love, some weird kids, Dark Magic, Voldemort rising again and some inspiring words from Dumbledore. There’s certainly action but the culmination of the story is over in a blink and it’s not very exciting at all. I won’t say I would’ve been better off not having read this but I could easily have lived without it.

Gemina

Last year I read Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, a Young Adult sci-fi novel. It’s the first part in a trilogy called the Illuminae files and truly redefines the form when you talk about novels. The story is told through excerpt from chat logs, emails, surveillance footage and so forth and tells the story about what happened on the planet Kerenza in the year 2575 when the colony living there was attacked by a corporation, BeiTech Industry, out to destroy the planet and kill everyone on it. But a few thousand manages to survive and flee towards the nearby jumpstation, Heimdall. Throughout the novel, the survivors on-board the Alexander and Hypatia tries to contact Heimdall but to no avail. And now, in Gemina, we finally get to see what happened on Heimdall when the refugees from Kerenza was making their way toward the jumpstation.


Hanna Donnelly is the spoiled, popular girl, daughter of Heimdalls commander. Nik Malikov is a reluctant member in a notorious crime family. For months, refugees from the Kerenza attack has been moving closer to Heimdall but the jumpstation has no idea about that and they, in turn, are in for their own fair share of violent surprise attacks. To clear their tracks of what happened on Kerenza, BeiTech is sending in a squad of two dozen people to make sure that the wormhole Heimdall moves around is functioning when Hypatia arrives so that an assault fleet can wipe them all out. But the task isn’t half as easy as the BT goons thought and the day before Hypatia and the assault fleet shows up turns into a bloody mess when Hanna and Nik join forces to defend their home and everyone on it.

First off, just like Illuminae, Gemina is as strange and amazing. In this novel it’s mostly chat logs, some emails, a few excerpt from Hanna’s diary, conversations using headsets and, more often than not, written security footage. It got a little boring after a while, I was waiting for something new or something more, like in Illuminae where every page was an exploration in something I’d never seen before. It got somewhat dull here, but the actual content was so good it was easy to forget about it for the most part. However, the drawings in Hanna’s diary, made by Marie Lu, was amazing and really brought something more to the story.

Like the previous novel, Gemina is fast-paced and fill to the brim (and I mean, the brim!) with action. The bigger portion of the novel spans out for about a day and a half and so much happens it feels impossible to remember it all. It turns out that the BT goons coming to Heimdall to mess things up isn’t the only scary thing out there on the jumpstation. A type of parasite gets loose and starts sneaking up on people and killing them and the wormhole is supposed to undergo maintenance but that’s cut short when the BeiTech guys shows up which endangers not only the jumpstation, but the entire universe itself.

As you can tell, a lot is happening. I think Kaufman and Kristoff had a long talk before they started writing this novel and I think they agreed on an experiment, to see just how many plot twists they could put in one book. The answer is, a lot. In one moment, you think you know everything only for it all to turn on its head. The next you think you know nothing and you’re still caught off guard when the next twist appears. I wouldn’t say it’s too much, but you certainly need to keep your head with you when you read or you might end up losing yourself among everything that’s happening.

The two heroes in this novel is Hanna and Nik. Hanna is daddy’s little girl who also likes to experiment with drugs behind his back and she is insanely good at fighting as well as all things that includes strategy and she soon turns into a nightmare for the BT guys. Nik has served time in prison and comes from a family were crime is second nature but he’s actually a very sweet guy. He has a crush on Hanna but she, in turn, is dating a soldier working on Heimdall, named Jackson. There’s an obvious attraction between Hanna and Nik and they spend a big part of the novel being sassy while saving everyone’s life. It’s fun to read their conversations but I do feel like I have to say this, despite it being something of a spoiler (so if you don’t want that, look away now). The fact that Hanna and Jackson break up and Hanna then seems to fall in love with Nik, or at least get a pretty serious crush on him, all in about twenty-four hours, feels a little hard to believe for me. Yeah, she’s still not entirely over Jackson but it’s enough to choose Nik all the way and that makes me question what she felt for Jackson (a guy she had dated for six months and a relationship that seemed kind of serious) and how deep her feelings are for Nik. This was the part that bothered me the most with the novel since this was what felt most naïve and childish. She’s a complete badass and yet it feels like Kaufman and Kristoff take something away from Hanna when they make so much of the story about her love life. I think this novel could’ve worked fine without the love story between her and Nik.

Overall, however, this is a great read that will suck you in from the beginning and spit you out, amazed and maybe a little confused, by the end. It’s a good sequel to the amazing first novel. I’m both looking forward and dreading the end, which will come this fall, because I don’t want the series to end. Despite that, I am looking forward to see what’s going to happen to Kady, Ezra, Hanna and Nik and I’m sure Kaufman and Kristoff have more than one ace up their sleeve. If you haven’t read either one of these books I suggest you start now so you’re ready for the big final in October.