Format: eGalley (courtesy of Netgalley)
Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Young Adult
Publication Date: 10.11.2011
Izzie loves Mark, and why shouldn’t she? As the captain of the basketball team, he is kind and loving and he’s everything she’s ever wanted in a boyfriend. Her BFF loves . . . somebody, but she won’t say who. So when a hot new guy, Tristan, shows up at school, who better for Izzie to fix up her friend with? And what better way to do it than with a love philtre?
But even the best of magic has a way of going awry—and Izzie finds she’s accidentally fallen in love with Tristan herself. And that’s a problem. First of all, there’s Mark. Second, Tristan comes with baggage—like the supernatural creatures that keep attacking whenever he’s with Izzie, and the fact that he comes from the place where Izzie’s father was killed, years ago, by an enormous, evil serpent that’s still around—and it knows Izzie is out there.
I liked the imagination that went into this story; the magic and powers...they were nice, and I loved reading about them. I also liked Tristan. He was a pretty cool guy, and seemed to be wicked with a sword (the few times we saw him in action).
But that's all I can say I liked. Everything else...well, it just didn't do it for me. I think the biggest problem I had with the story, is that no one in it acts as if they are human. Backstabbing and boyfriend stealing elicit absolutely NO response from these characters but immediate forgiveness. And then it's like it never happened. No one is that perfect! The characters also switched from feeling true-love-destined-to-be-together feelings for one person, to feeling them for another, instantly. No, really. Instantly. From hot to cold, in between one sentence and the next. The most extreme example I can think of is when one character is in sparkly-eyed-love with a girl one moment, and then punches said girl in the face just a few pages over because now he's in deep-sparkly-eyed-love with another girl and thinks she's to blame for her being hurt. Really? This is not realistic at all. And no, magic had nothing to do with these jarring changes.
The other thing that bothered me is that this is supposed to be a retelling of the tale of Tristan and Iseult (or Isolde, if you prefer). That is one of my favorite tales, and it just didn't do it justice. On top of that, I felt like there wasn't enough explanation. Things just happened, and we were either given condensed versions of the stories, or were supposed to believe that the MC suddenly understood how to use her magnificent powers in a split-second, and she understood because...she just knew.
I teetered between giving this a 1-star, or 2-star rating, so I settled for a rating in between the two. The main reason for this is because I wasn't bored while reading. Like I said, the imagination that went into this was great, and I was entertained...when I wasn't frustrated with the characters. But I wanted so much to love this book. I mean, it's a retelling of one of my favorite love stories! How could it go wrong? But it did. This was definitely not a book for me, and I won't be recommending it.
Just to be a good sport, and to add some other opinions, here are a couple positive reviews from Goodreads:
From Julie Witt
Psst! If you want to listen to an AWESOME version of Tristan & Iseult's tale I highly recommend you listen to the free LibriVox audiobook of The Romance of Tristan and Iseult. The girl's accent is amazing, and it totally makes the story! Get it here: