by Em Does Book Reviews
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Anna has everything figured out – she was about to start senior year with her best friend, she had a great weekend job, and her huge work crush looked as if it might finally be going somewhere… Until her dad decides to send her 4383 miles away to Paris. On her own.
But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna finds herself making new friends, including Etienne, the smart, beautiful boy from the floor above. But he’s taken – and Anna might be too. Will a year of romantic near-missed end with the French kiss she’s been waiting for?
A while back, I wrote a list of my top 5 books I should have read but hadn’t (it may have been a Top 5 Wednesday, I can’t quite recall) and this was on said list; everyone raves about it, but it was never high up my to-read list for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is a young adult romance – my least favourite genre of all. Secondly, it sounded incredibly cheesy. Thirdly, I didn’t own a copy, and had other books I wanted to buy more. However, when my best friend thrust her copy at me and begged me to read it, I obliged, and here I am, reviewing it.
- The setting makes for a fantastic backdrop for the story. Paris is described incredibly well – it all felt so real – and it evokes a lot of glorious imagery that just made me want to go to France myself!
- The romance is (dare I say it) actually quite interesting to read about. Anna and Etienne had chemistry as a couple, and for a novel where the sole plotline is about romance, and everything else is an aid to their relationship, it wasn’t ghastly to read.
- The writing is technically very strong. While there was quite a bit of slang and too many Americanisms for me to get my head around (which was fine given the narrative, it just grated on me a bit) Perkins’s actual writing flowed very well and was not too repetitive or dull.
- Etienne, as a love interest, was quite fanciable, which is necessary given the type of book. He wasn’t my type, and I had a few issues (which you’ll read about later) but on the whole he was very cute. The little details such as his fear of heights and his ‘stupid’ hat made him all the more likeable.
- I liked the supporting cast of characters a lot. I was equally interested in Rashmi and Josh as a pair as I was in Anna and Etienne, and Mer was a good best friend figure. There was a fair share of awful characters (Dave, Seany, Bridge, Toph) but at least they were the characters I felt we were not meant to adore unfalteringly. None of the supporting cast whom I felt I was meant to like proved a problem.
- I’ve already mentioned it, but everything felt very genuine. All of the characters, places and events felt like they could have a place in a genuine situation.
- It was a very quick and light read, and I will be reading the other two companion novels, albeit not immediately.
- I did have issues with how we see Etienne leading on three girls at once – Anna, Ellie and Mer (he wasn’t with Mer, I know, but he knew how she felt and did nothing to assuage the situation) – and yet Anna accepts that it just ‘happens’. I wouldn’t enter into a relationship with a guy who was cheating on someone else by snogging me, as if he could cheat on them, he certainly could cheat on me too. It ruined the romance a tad for me, and as the romance is crucial, it impacted my enjoyment of the story a bit. I just don’t think it was necessary.
- Anna, whilst by no means the worst protagonist, was incredibly bitchy, whiny and selfish. I cut her some slack at first (despite the beginning being a huge whine-fest) given her circumstances, but her unsavoury attributes didn’t die down. She always seems to have an issue to moan about, or failing that, has to go on about how much she likes Etienne, and by the end it was growing tiresome.
- I liked that Etienne was a mixture of cultures, but it just exposed the English culture for American Anna to be stereotypical about. I didn’t like the ‘having to explain how Etienne pronounces certain words differently to Anna’ as it was incredibly unnecessary, and made me as a Brit feel incredibly strange – kind of: yes, there is a cultural difference, but this is the third time you’ve picked him up on how he says ‘Ah-na’ and ‘ba-nah-na’ (I didn’t even know we pronounced them differently, and using that as a phonetic explanation fails on me as a reader anyway, because of the way we pronounce ‘ah’ not corresponding with the way we pronounce ‘Anna’, and the ‘a’ sound in ‘Anna’ and ‘banana’ being different) and your mentioning it is only making me feel a bit stereotyped – I was reading about the English through American eyes, and I wasn’t really liking it. Also, we do not always swear by using the ‘V’ sign, just so you know. We use the middle finger more often than the ‘V’, so the whole clause of ‘swearing the British way’ was lost on me.
- I hated how Anna moaned about not having enough money. I’m sorry, but if you are firmly middle class with enough money to go to the cinema every night and to visit all of the local tourist attractions whilst still easily paying for meals (a decent portion of which are eating out in cafes) then you moan about not having enough money, I think it’s a little bit blind to the world around you. The truth there was that she was surrounded by even more rich people, nearly all of which took their lifestyle for granted, and it made me quite angry.
Would I recommend? – If YA romance is your thing, then this is one of the best examples I’ve come across, so yes, I would. Also, even if you don’t tend to like YA romance (like me) I’d still say it’s a pretty good read.
Overall Response: 4 Stars
Guest review contributed by Em Does Book Reviews. If you sometimes like “bite-size” book reviews, this blog has them, along with an indie corner, TV reviews, and film reviews.