My rating: 5 of 5 genies
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
Published: December 2, 2010
Source: Library Loan
Purchase At: TheBookDepository.com or Amazon.com
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home. As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?
Ok, kidding, but I was for sure certain that almost all French men resembled this person:
(Actually I was going to post the image of Pepe the Predator skunk from Loony Toons on here, but that puppy is more protected than the Pentagon! Literally, the copyright laws are insane.)
But the point is, Etienne St. Clair didn't look like that at all and yet he was this wonderful mix of both nationalities, how cool is that? Man, he was sweet, funny, reliable, trustworthy, loyal, passionate, handsome and very kind. He is essentially the perfect man, ladies and he was like the next big character after the protagonist - Anna - for me. Which I think is what Perkins was going for so it's great that it worked out that way, and oh, did I happen to mention that I officially love her?
Because I so do, she's the new Meg Cabot for me and I'll explain what I mean by that later. First off though, let me get into this review!
Setting: The story takes place predominantly in Paris, France and because it does I admit I was skeptical. Why? Because so many people over-exaggerate France and I thought I'd read every cliched description of the, "City of Lights," and, "Home of Romance," before. I didn't believe that anyone could make it seem exciting or fresh again.
Boy, was I wrong! Slap that misconception all the way out to Utah, right now! Perkins is a wiz at description, she has magic synonyms and dialogue dripping off her pores. Girl could go to Hogwarts and beat Harry Potter's behind backwards with her eyes shut, she has impressed me that much. Not that I read Harry Potter or anything...I just thought I'd try my hand at being pop culture saavy. Are you feeling me my Wizards!
Yeahdidn'treallythinkso, WELL I'm still buck,Yo!
Inner voice: "No you're not. These people can tell you're as lame as that Sheen fellow."
Me: "Don't mess with me, Powerless! You are in my head and you will live by my rules. *Sighs* You always bring me down.
Inner voice: "See what I have to live with? Moving on..."
Paris was the perfect backdrop to "...The French Kiss" because it really fit well with the characters, and for once the female protagonist wasn't there on holiday! Who would have believed it possible?! She's actually shipped there against her will for this exchange-type school, remarkable! I think at that point I was already in love with this book, the beautifully described scenery, sweets and buildings just hooked me further. That I didn't have to suffer through another read about a love-sick tourist was my greatest relief.
Plot: Well I'll say this for Anna, she speaks her mind. She can't hold much back and her honesty is what I like most, making her one of the most laid-back female protagonists I have ever read about. Anna's like this mix of girl and boy - she freaks like a girl but acts like a dude - which is cool because the entire book is told from her perspective. I positively hate picking up a novel and having it sit on my "currently-reading" shelf for months simply because I discover that the main heroine is either lily-livered or an idiot.
It. Slays. Me. Every. Time.
I'm thankful that this was not the case with "Anna," I really enjoyed devouring the pages and had the worst case of withdrawal following its completion. I can't wait for Lola! And from now on I'll buy all of Perkins's books if I can help it, because her plot's in my opinion are golden. She's a writer to watch and I can see this debut climbing quickly to the tops of all the Bestseller lists.
I never felt like the pace was dragging and everything flowed. It wasn't formulaic and yet every move made by the characters was purposeful, am I making sense? Anna dealt with some teen issues as well as some very atypical ones with the same sense of maturity. Her thoughts were also written deeply reflective and I very much enjoyed that, she was like my best friend for the two days I read about her.
Characters: So I fear that If I begin talking again about Etienne I will swoon and pass out on my keyboard - again, kidding - but it may be wise not to begin there suddenly. Let me start with:
Anna: Was this teen on the verge of change and while she did have her bad moments she had even more redeeming qualities. She is smart and picks up on the details - which makes sense since she wants to be a film-critic - she has the personality that is wholly infectious.
She cracked me up with her sharp remarks and witticism, making this gondola ride of a read just a breeze. It wasn't nearly as tacky as a diary but very personal in a way that made you feel as though you were experiencing that time with her, Perkins took you closer to the character. She had a lot to deal with, what with a dad almost the mirror image of Ken Barbie, (can you believe the doll isn't man enough to keep his own surname), dressing in polos and dinner shirts with an unbelievable tan. Did I mention that he makes his living off of cheesy cancer novels? And the
Like I said, girl has a lot to deal with, not to mention a traitorous best friend and being away in a foreign land. My respects to Anna!
Rashmi,Meredith,Josh,Isla: When visiting foreign places, finding good friends is essential, friends who make you forget your home-sickness, invite you out to dinner and take you in as one of their own. These four were that! I loved how accepting they were of Anna's joining their group, (except Isla, she comes in later), and think they are the best supporting cast of characters ever. Rashmi and Isla grew on me and so did Josh, not sure I'm much of a fan of Meredith's, but I want those three in the next books to come!
Etienne: Gorgeous French/British/American boy extraordinaire, I am truly and deeply in love. If you are reading this Perkins, know that I want to marry him. Give me your blessing? He wasn't perfect and his unwillingness to leave Ellie made me a little mad, but that is the beauty of him. He didn't need to be perfect - he still (adorably) bit his thumbs and pinkies and he's a little passive (which isn't all bad) and I liked him that way. Yes, I do want to steal him!
Overall these were the characters that made this whole journey worthwhile, and I would read them again and again and again.
P.A.(problem areas:( Remain largely non-existent.
H.M. (honorary mention:( Goes to Stephanie Perkins, my new author crush. Who would have thunk that it wouldn't be someone in the book, but the one who wrote it?
As for what I was referring to earlier when I said she was the "new" Meg Cabot, allow me to elaborate: from the time I was 13 I have flung myself at everything Cabot, but recently I think I'm outgrowing her writing (no offense, Meg!) The problem may lie with me, but I find that her books do not connect with me the same way that they used to, and it makes me sad. Everything must come to and end, and the fact that I could find an author similar, but with a fresh new style, reassures me and I am overjoyed once again.
This is not meant as a dig to Mrs. Cabot, and honestly it happens with everyone at some point that they cannot read much of what they used to, and I believe it is normal. I still adore The Mediator series as well as Pants on Fire, but at this time, finding Perkins has been the best surprise.
And if you couldn't guess by now, this book got five flaming kisses from me. I think I may even visit Paris now...