Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Title: Tris and Izzie
Author: Mette Ivie Harrison
Genre: YA, paranormal, mythology
Publisher: EgmontUSA, 2011
Source: NetGalley
Read for: Review, Read a myth Challenge

In this YA, paranormal retelling of the Tristan and Isolde legend, Izzie is a popular girl dating the "king" of the school, Mark King. However, she worries about her best friend, Branna, and decides to concoct a love potion to lure Branna to into a romance with the new kid in school, Tristan. However, things do not go according to plan, and Izzie finds herself frustratingly attracted to the strange and formal Tristan. This is further complicated by the fact that mythical beasts are coming after Izzie and attacking the school. Problems.

Okay, first of all, take a good look at that cover. Half-naked boy aside, isn't that gorgeous? I love the leaves in the air and floating on the water. I love how autumn-y it looks. It looks like a heart-rending, deep story.

Feast your eyes on the cover, but keep them there - because it is the best part of the book.

I was actually quite excited about this book (again, look at the cover! It is so pretty!). Whenever I hear "re-telling" or "myth" or "fairy tale," I get kind of excited. I've always loved old, well-loved stories.

Except, actually, the story of Tristan and Isolde. Granted, my only other exposure to it was the movie that came out when I was in high school (so like, seven years ago? I'm starting to feel old). But I actually really disliked the movie. It was so violent (severed hands). And the romance was not romantic at all, but torturous and deceitful and painful. I like sad stories, but I don't like unending, irrevocable pain. There has to be a little sweetness among the bitter to make the story worthwhile for me.

After turning the beautiful cover (or pretending to turn it, since I read this book on my computer) and realizing it was a retelling of a myth that I don't like, the book went a bit downhill for me. While it wasn't hideously depressing like the other version of Tristan and Isolde I've experienced, it had some significant flaws.

First of all - the dialogue. I realize that this is a YA book, and that YA books are sometimes written to an easier level than adult-level books. However, I have read many, many YA books that are beautifully written, even those with simpler language. The dialogue was somewhat stilted in Tris and Izzie. For example,
"What makes you think that you can do anything for me, Izzie? What are you, the queen of the world?
"Maybe," I said, looking up at her. "I'm the queen of the high school, at least, since I'm dating Mark, and he's the king."
Slight wince.

I also struggled with the characters, especially Tristan. He didnt' strike me as heroic, the type of guy that would sweep a popular girl off her feet and lead her away from her sweet, perfect (except for the fact that he ignores Izzie when he watches football - and what guy doesn't?) boyfriend. He was awkward, stubborn, and a bit of a caveman. He seems more like an accessory for Izzie to hang onto than a developed character.

Some positives: I think the paranormal spin was a clever addition to the story. I also think the (slight spoiler, but not really, because this is a familiar legend) breakup between Mark and Izzie was handled very well, albeit a bit quickly. I felt some real emotion during that part, especially when Izzie realizes she really does love both men, but she feels more passion for Tristan.

Overall, however, this book was lacking in writing and character development. It was an interesting spin on the Tristan and Isolde legend, but was ultimately unsatisfying for me.

1.5 stars

Warnings: Parnormal violence, very slight innuendo


  1. Yeah, I'm reading this thinking, "yeah, that's how I feel about those sorts of things. That's how I felt about the movie." So I'm guessing I wouldn't like this one either. It is a lovely cover, though.

  2. Oh, that's a shame. I like retelling of myths and old stories.

    Have you read any of the Canongate myth series? The Penelopiad is very good.

  3. I saw the movie in high school too didn't like it either :) I was really looking forward to this book (mostly because of the cover) until I started reading the reviews for it, and it didn't seem like anyone really liked it. I do like the other books by this author though--The Princess and the Hound/Princess and the Bear. Loved your review, Lorren!

  4. I just reviewed this book as well and the cover was definitely the best part. I found it to be NOTHING like the true story Tristan and Isolade. I mean they shared the same name and there were obstacles and good vs. evil, but uh that's in most paranormal ya. For a re-telling it was a big boo.

  5. Ugh, I'm sad people aren't liking this one more! (Yes, I've seen a few reviews that mirror yours.) I still plan to read it, but with a little less excitement I suppose.

  6. I agree with you, I wanted this book just because I loved the cover. But I really haven't read many reviews that were all that positive. Maybe someday I will read it, but not anytime soon. thanks for the honest review. :)

  7. @Jenny - Yeah, this is one I probably wouldn't say "check it out, you might like it better than I did."

    @Sam - I've been wanting to read the Penelopaid. Good to know it is recommended. :)

    @Karen - I have heard of those other books and was thinking of avoiding them because of my experience with this one, but maybe I"ll give them a shot. Thanks!

    @Christina - I should find a good retelling of Tristan and Isolde sometime.

    @Suey - Yeah I still can't believe I was so disappointed because i had high hopes. Hope your experience is better than mine. :)

    @Jennifer - It has a few entertaining moments so maybe you will enjoy it when you do get around to it. But I do think the cover is the best part.


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