There was a plan to finish this book in the new year. It was going to be the first book of 2015.
Too bad I couldn’t put the bloody thing down.
Anna is completely against being shipped off to Paris for her last year of high school. Forced to leave her friends, family, and potential boyfriend, nothing could be more poorly timed.
Except that it’s Paris. The city of lights, the city of love, and the city where she meets Etienne St. Clair, who is practically perfect—you know, besides the fact that he has an older, much more beautiful girlfriend, a best friend whose already in love with him, and a dad who sucks the hairy big one.
But Anna can’t help being drawn to St. Clair. And could it be possible that he is drawn to her too?
Okay, I’ll admit I’ve been avoiding this book, because it sounds so…cheesy. My summary does not do anything to help this impression, and there’s a reason for that.
Anna and the French Kiss is cheesy. Just the gooey, good French kind.
How many tropes can you count while you read? Well, I lost track. And that makes the plot very predictable. A lot of the “twists” in the plot I saw at least fifty pages ahead of time.
When it comes to chick lit, where I know who’s going to end up together, it’s better off analyzing how they get together.
And thank goodness that this is not instalove or Anna is getting tossed out a window. Anna and St. Clair are friends first, holding themselves back, sure, but they know what the other needs at the right moment and that’s a great plot. Plus, it’s not happy all the time. They fight. They cry. There’s awkwardness.
The only issue here is that there is so much extra tropish filler that the book didn’t need.
The novel centers on a group of five friends: Anna, St. Clair, Meredith, Rashmi and Josh. What I like best is their interactions and their individual growth (where applicable).
I’m going to say it. Anna is annoying at the beginning of the book. I didn’t think I was going to make it if she was going to be the narrator. She’s very much like Anna from Frozen, forcing this sort of clumsy, adorkable idiocy for much of the novel—and just like in Frozen it did not endear me to the character at all, it made me roll my eyes. That said, she does have character, and without the tropish set up, she’s actually got personality. She has aspirations, she has flaws, and all around is a decent protag. Infuriating at times, but that’s most of the cliche than her character.
As for St. Clair, he’s your typical YA hottie. Of course he’s hot. Of course he has a hotter girlfriend. Of course everyone’s in love with him. Of course he’s got a British accent. Of course he’s catatonically afraid of heights. Of course he’s got gorgeous hair that Anna will not shut up about. He has other characteristics though, and, just like Anna, if you trim off all the fatty trope, he’s a pretty good character too. I like his family dilemmas, I like his fascination with history.
Meredith is (1) in love with St. Clair, which may or may not effect (2) the fact she is in love with British football and the Beatles. She, along with Rashmi (Indian student hoping to study Egyptology) and her boyfriend Josh (budding artist with terrible attendance), get very little characterization beyond their aspirations, their love interests, and their general relationship to the other characters. Which is rather upsetting because I’d like to know more, as they are the least cliche characters in the book. I’m particularly fond of Josh since he’s essentially this novel’s Isaac from TFIOS, but as I’ve come to understand it the third book in this series is all about him (instantly putting it on my TBR list).
But the rest of the characters in the novels are summed up in: stereotype, trope, stereotype, cliche. And that’s rather disappointing. I wish Ellie and Amanda were more than just bitches. I wish Dave was more than a jerk. This novel is cursed with tropes.
Perkins’ writing is okay. She has a tendency to WRITE IN ALL CAPS WHEN ANNA IS PANICKED but I’m not going to dock points for it since it seems reflective of Anna’s personality (the adorkable one anyways).
And, if I haven’t mentioned it enough, Anna is plagued with cliches. Which I tried my best to just go with but they become increasingly distracting.
But I have to give Perkins props for writing a genuine love story. And the culture shock Anna experiences upon returning home? Amazing.
What sets Anna and St. Clair’s story apart is that they are actively trying not to fall in love because they know it’s not what the other needs at that specific moment. They watch and listen to each other, study the situation and decide what is best at the time.
I just don’t like that it’s justifiable to break up with Ellie just because she’s a bitch. I don’t like that everyone they reject are assholes, so by default they are best for each other. Couldn’t they genuinely like someone and feel bad because they love some else more? That’s a more compelling idea.
I do like the idea of the fear of change. They’re in senior year—that’s a pretty big turning point. Surprisingly, the focus isn’t on growing up in terms of graduation. It’s growing up in terms of being mature, responsible people aware of their actions and how love works.
While clothed in trope, Anna and the French Kiss holds a genuine love story. I don’t like much chick lit, but when I do, it’s the perfect pick me up for when I just need something fluffy, and Anna and the French Kiss is definitely that. And compared to other stuff in the genre, I’d definitely pick this read over others. I don’t think I could suffer through the introduction again, but the interaction between Anna and St. Clair is too good to pass up.
Recommendation: Buy. Especially if you are into chick lit or need a little fluff after a really heavy book. It’s a fast read and a decent story.