Book Review: Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

‘A mod­ern retelling of the Ger­man fairy­tale “Tris­tan and Isolde”, Tris and Izzie is about a young witch named Izzie who is dat­ing Mark King, the cap­tain of the bas­ket­ball team and thinks her life is going swim­mingly well. Until — she makes a love potion for her best friend Bran­gane and then ends up tak­ing it her­self acci­den­tally, and falling in love with Tris­tan, the new guy at school.’

Well here it is. My first really neg­a­tive review. I debated quite a while about whether to actu­ally post this or not, because I do feel bad about giv­ing such a low rat­ing, even though I have tried to be fair in my com­ments. The truth is I seri­ously con­sid­ered giv­ing up half way through this.

If I dis­like a book that much, a review can eas­ily turn into a rant which isn’t help­ful for any­one, or par­tic­u­larly fair to the author, so I’m going to try to exactly explain why I dis­liked Tris and Izzie. I have to be hon­est and say the main rea­son is sim­ply that I found it to be very poorly written.

The nar­ra­tion was child-like, dis­jointed and repet­i­tive, I think at one point the word ‘magic’ was used around seven times within two short para­graphs. There are sev­eral bat­tle scenes but there was no sense of build up or ten­sion and the action wasn’t well writ­ten. I never felt any fear for the char­ac­ters, mainly because I didn’t con­nect with any of them, but also because any dan­ger they found them­selves in was brief and too eas­ily resolved.

Another issue was that the main pro­tag­o­nist was vapid and plain unlik­able. The story is nar­rated from Izzie’s point of view and I hon­estly felt like I was read­ing some naive, vin­dic­tive child’s thoughts. Mel, a guy at school, annoys Izzie (she doesn’t like his jokes but other than that it doesn’t appear that he’s ever really spo­ken to her), so she is resolved to get her boyfriend (the most pop­u­lar guy in school) to ‘exile’ him. No one will speak to him or be friends with him, with­out their per­mis­sion. She also thinks her best friend, Branna, needs a boyfriend, and so, dis­re­gard­ing the fact that a love potion can never be reversed, she decides she to slip one to her friend and the new guy, effec­tively tak­ing away any roman­tic choice from Branna for the rest of her life.

There’s noth­ing wrong at all with hav­ing a unlike­able lead char­ac­ter, if you have a qual­ity piece of writ­ing that can pull it off and that just isn’t the case here. Izzie’s char­ac­ter was less inter­fer­ing by the end of the story, though I can’t say she matures in any way, rather she is more pre­oc­cu­pied with Tris­tan, and the scenes between them get sap­pier and more overblown as the book progresses.

Over­all, there was lit­tle, to no, char­ac­ter devel­op­ment at all as far as I could see. I can’t really tell you any­thing about Tris­tan other than he has really blonde, almost white, hair, he’s sup­pos­edly a war­rior (though we see very lit­tle evi­dence of this, nor do we learn any­thing about his pow­ers), he speaks like a Vic­to­rian gen­tle­man and is besot­ted with Izzie from the first moment he sees her. I didn’t get a feel for any of the char­ac­ters what­so­ever and so didn’t care what hap­pened to them. None of them were real­is­tic in any way. Some really bizarre things hap­pen in this book but nobody bats an eyelid.

The dia­logue was stilted and just plain awk­ward to read, par­tic­u­larly Tristan’s (few) lines. The plot was all over the place and was ridicu­lous in places (the story of how her par­ents met comes to mind, among other things), while mak­ing lit­tle sense in others. 

Slight Spoiler: Magic I can believe in. I can even believe (just) in a giant ser­pent demand­ing annual vir­gin sac­ri­fices if a book is well writ­ten, has great char­ac­ters and solid world-building.  Tris and Izzie, sadly, lacked any of this and I was left exas­per­ated, annoyed and faintly amused for the most part. End Spoiler.

To be hon­est, I’m unim­pressed — which is a real shame as I was look­ing for­ward to this one and was so excited to see it on Net­Gal­ley. But it just reads like (bad) fan­fic­tion. Other than the names and the ele­ments of magic, I don’t know that you could really call this a retelling of the story of Tris­tan and Isolde. Young read­ers will prob­a­bly be able to look past most of these issues for a quick, easy read, (though the age of the char­ac­ters and the empha­sis on ‘true love’ makes me think it is intended for older teenagers), but I think any­one over 12 will prob­a­bly be disappointed.

The cover, how­ever, is absolutely gorgeous.

Rec­om­mended Read­ing Age: 14+

Rat­ing: 3/10

Many thanks to Egmont USA and Net­Gal­ley for mak­ing this ebook available.

*Please keep in mind that this review is based on an Advanced Review Copy from Net­Gal­ley and there­fore some of the nar­ra­tive and dia­logue may change before publication.*

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

  1. Felicia @ A Novel Paradise

    I was really look­ing for­ward to Tris and Izzie, oh well…But thank you for your hon­est review! It’s always hard when you review a book and you didn’t really like it, but at least your review is well-reasoned (: I’m sure I will read this book as planned, though, the cover’s just too irre­sistible hahaha.

    Reply

  2. Lisa @ BaffledBooks/Hello Sailor!

    Yep! That’s exactly what I thought. Such a shame for such a hyped book. While the cover is gor­geous, I think it mis­rep­re­sents the book and the char­ac­ters. I was look­ing for some sweet, pas­sion­ate love story. Instead we get kind of trite magic.

    P.s. — I love that we have the same theme too! 🙂 We are obvi­ously both awesome. 🙂

    Reply

    1. Amy Post author

      We are obvi­ously both awesome.’

      Of course 😉

      But you’ve done a lot more with your lay­out design 🙂 I love it! I have no idea how to do any­thing like that lol!

      Reply

  3. Dani @ Refracted Light

    I too hate giv­ing neg­a­tive reviews, but I think your rea­sons for doing so are com­pletely valid and well-explained. And I com­pletely agree with every­thing you said. I wish, wish, wish this had been a bet­ter book, it could’ve been so promising.

    Reply

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