Review: Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Title: Tris & Izzie
Genre: young-adult, supernatural fiction, legend retold
Series: N/A
Pages: 272 (Nook version; NetGalley uncorrected ARC)
Published: October 2011
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 1/5

Simply and best put: the cover is the best part of the complicated mess that is this novel. I'd heard of a few other novels by this author I have wanted to read (mostly Mira, Mirror) so when I saw this on netgalley -- with that gorgeous cover -- I couldn't wait to read it. Sadly I was disappointed and frustrated by this retelling of the classic Tristan and Isolde legend.

The writing itself is very awkward and clunky from the beginning pages. Paragraphs like
"Mom said it was too painful to stay where all the memories were. Dad died just after I failed the test for magic that was supposed to figure out what kind I had. I guess magic can skip a generation or even fade out completely. No one knows the reason, but that's why there's less magic in the world now than there used to be. It's hard to live without magic surrounded by people who do, Mom says." 
are prevalent and just as heavy-handed and meandering (this is on page 12, where the author is explaining her life now she has moved and then randomly we're learning about the state of magic in her world) throughout the entire story.

There's a LOT of exposition early on in order to catch the reader up to speed with the events and principles of this particular world. Rather than show the audience anything, every last detail is explained in monotonous dialogue or the vapid inner monologue like that quoted above of the main character, Izzie.

Izzie, or rather Isolde as she's called only by her angst-magnet Tristan, is not a character I cared about very much. Vapid, vain and entirely too boy-crazy to accurately represent a girl I'd like, Izzie is pretty clueless to top it all off. When warned by her witch mother Gwen (multiple times, over many years with her own life as an example of a true love philtre gone wrong) Izzie DRINKS a real love potion intended for another instead of you know, spilling it and thus making her fall in love with someone other than her 'perfect' boyfriend of a year. And then, after Izzie knowingly stole said potion with its intent and accuracy, and put it in a bottle of Sprite for two people who had NO IDEA what she was doing, and then took it herself, she COMPLAINS ABOUT THE RESULT. (Girl. YOU DID THIS. You were going to take two people who did not know each other and make them obsessively love each for all time and then when it backfires, YOU DRINK IT AND COMPLAIN? Are you kidding me.) Instead of ruining someone else's life (her ahem best friend was the target...) Izzie ruined her own. Instead of inspiring sympathy from me, I felt it was justified for a girl so supercilious as to decide who should fall in love without any awareness of that fact.

Speaking of Izzie's best friend and perfect boyfriend, all the characters in this felt very wooden, and fairly bland. None sparkled with individuality or flair; Mark, her original boyfriend, was so unassumingly bland I forgot Isolde was supposed to be conflicted half the time. And while these are supposed to be teens in high school, the conversations and overly-loaded dialogue felt way out of place. Izzie casually mentions Mark "the king of the school" (also, real subtle allusion to the real story, there) willing to "exile" another classmate for offending Izzie. I'm sorry, but teenagers do not talk that way. It's unrealistic and laughable, not to mention anachronistic for a generation unconcerned with history.

The plotting is glacial and very hard to get through. The odd moments of humor (Tristan to Isolde: "You see things" Isolde: "What, dead people?!") were intermittent, and while I did find them occasionally humorous, it wasn't enough to save my failing opinion of the style of this novel.  I just cannot support a novel that has 16 year old teenagers discussing how they have found their soulmate, and how perfect him/her they are at length. The constant back-and-forth tugging between Tristan and Mark was extremely wearying, especially since I did not care who the author went with in the end: a fresh ending with a new twist or a new take on the old familiar. I just did not care.

Clearly this is a predictable story, one that has been told many times by many different people for a long, long time. But sadly, here in this novel, I saw little to distinguish from any other genre, run-of-the-mill retelling. I had hoped for an individualistic and clever take of forbidden love in a modern age, and instead I got genre popcorn. 1/5 and just not for me. 


  1. Thanks for the review. I was trying to decide whether or not to read this one, but I'll be skipping it now.

  2. Oh my gosh. I feel like this is some sort of tragedy. Why on earth would there be such a great cover on it? I don't think I'll be reading this any time soon.

  3. You're right about the cover--enticing! But I'll definitely skip this one.
    Mary, A Book A Day

  4. I've got to echo everyone else: gorgeous cover. Thanks for the honest review!

  5. Wow! Respect. When you don't like it, you don't like it. Well done review.

  6. I feel bad sometimes after a harsh review, but days later this one still infuriates me. Standing by it :D ;)

  7. I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't care for it. And you're right, the cover is the best part.

  8. Your blog is so cute! I love it!


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