revisiting old reviews · YA

Revisiting Old Reviews: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Image result for anna and the french kissA feature in which I revisit an old review and tell you how I feel about it now. 

Let’s talk about how much my reading tastes have changed and also the way I review books. You have most definitely heard about this book before, it’s insanely popular and everyone has read it back in the day, including myself. Now, I’ll show you my initial review, and then we’re going to discuss a lot of things.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I saw it all over Youtube and people seemed to be loooving it. So I had high expectations for it. But as soon as I picked it up, it became pretty obvious that it’s going to be another stereotypical YA novel. And somehow I was under the impression that that wasn’t the case. Draaama. As I said, it’s a pretty typical teenage book. I had a couple of problems with it. First of all, Anna. I know. The main character. But I hated her. She really bugged me. A lot. She is just plain… ignorant. Yup, that’s the word. For example, she is this self-proclaimed film addict and expert, but she is completely stunned that there are cinemas in Paris. Um, hello, it’s frickin’ Paris?! Also, she couldn’t talk to the chef in the cafeteria because she can’t speak French. Boohoo. I mean, it’s an American school, chances are he speaks English and isn’t completely IGNORANT.
The male lead, Étienne St. Clair, is completely dreamy, yes. I mean he is beautiful, smart, funny, speaks French AND has a British accent. I mean what more can you ask for? But he is so generic. Cute, but nothing that hasn’t been seen before.
The whole book they obviously like each other, but they are so awkward around each other and just dance around the subject. But all that aside, I gave 4 stars to this book on Goodreads. And why? Because it’s just CUTE. Yes. They are stupid teenagers and they can’t grasp basic things but it’s still cute. And fuzzy. This is such a feel-good book. The one you can read without really thinking about it a lot, or at all for that matter. And who doesn’t need that? I know I do. I want to read about a stupid girl who chases love and catches it. Because it’s nice. And it makes me feel nice. It’s not going to change your life. It’s not going to make you think. It’s not even an epic love story. But Perkins shows us how they fell in love, it’s not like instant, like in most books these days. It’s gradual. They actually talk and become friends and all that stuff. And once again, it’s CUTE. But Anna is still quite annoying. And Étienne is adorable, even though he is every other YA book boy. But sometimes that’s fine.

As I previously mentioned, my reviews were barely coherent. I am aware of that. But that’s not the point of this post, even though it totally makes me cringe. I want to discuss a couple of points in this post. So let’s break it down.

1. Anna, our main character, who is entirely useless

As you can see, my dislike for Anna as a main character was obvious even in my first review. This remains true to this day. I find her to be the most useless character out of all the main characters in YA contemporary (that I read about). She is so whiny, and obnoxious, and like I said, she is completely ignorant. Her main thing is that she loves movies and aspires to be a movie critic, but she is in shock when she finds out that there are cinemas in Paris. It’s absurd. Movie was invented in France. This just goes to show how little work went into her characterization. You can’t add this supposed “quirks” to your character and slap on them the “special snowflake” label and then give no support whatsover to those claims. It’s ridiculous. There were a lot of things to hate about her. She is a hypocrite who judges others and then goes on to do the same exact things. There’s another thing that really bothers me about her which I’ll get to in a second.

2. Etienne St. Clair is awful 

Now, let’s discuss our male lead. The one of the British accent. As you can see, I deemed Etienne cute and dreamy, but just like any other YA male lead. But I still liked him. That’s a thing that today seems completely ridiculous to me. Etienne was awful. He had a girlfriend and he continued to emotionally cheat on her throughout this novel. Not to mention that he not only stringed along his girlfriend, he also did the same thing to Anna, by refusing to break up with his girlfriend, while still admitting that he had feelings for Anna. Why would you do that? Which leads me to my next point…

3. The cheating narrative

This is the thing that bother me most about my initial review. I was rooting for them, and I also was completely blind to the fact that their relationship was built while Etienne had a girlfriend. I completely ignored that. Which shouldn’t be ignored. Fine, they didn’t specifically do anything while he was with his girlfriend. Except kiss at the very end of the book. But there was so much emotional cheating that it was completely ridiculous.

4. Anna is the only good female character

This is something that I see a lot in books, especially in YA and books for younger audiences which is really concerning to be honest. And that’s the fact that in order to make the main character stand out, and seem special and like the freaking gift from god, every single other female character is looked down upon. Which is a very awful way to construct your story. There’s all these passing comments about other girls being basically bimbos. And I get it. You can make awful female characters. As a matter of fact, you should. And you can totally make your main character hate them. But when their entire disdain of other female characters is based upon their looks or the way they dress, that’s when you stray into dangerous territory. And I am not here for it. And the most worrisome thing about this is that I never thought of it until I sat down to write this post.

5. My rating is entirely ridiculous

My reviews used to be so subservient to the hype. I used to think that I could not possibly dislike a popular book as much as I did dislike them. I had no problem saying how I feel, which is true for this review as well. But it’s so obvious that I was beyond annoyed by this book. And then I went and gave it four stars. Solely based on the fact that it’s a love story. It’s ridiculous.

So what’s the final verdict? Have my feelings changed? Definitely. I feel like there were a lot of things that didn’t work for me. And the fact that I disliked all of the characters and some aspects of the plot just goes to show that this definitely isn’t a four star read any more.

Final verdict: 2 stars

When I finished this post, I found this SPECTACULAR review which put all of my thoughts into words and made it really funny (and backed it up with page numbers). It’s by a youtuber called Lily on LilyCReads and you can find it HERE.

So let me know what you think in the comments below. Have you read this? Do you agree? What were your thoughts?



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