Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
On the Shelves: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
“Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. She is less than thrilled about boarding school in Paris – until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, he has it all – including a serious girlfriend. Will Anna get her French kiss?” (Goodreads 2013)
Let it be said, the only reason I even added this to my TBR, was because of the massive internet hype around it. And once again, this is a walking example of why you, as a reader, should always prefer your own intuition over the mass public hype of a book. I know why this book is popular, but my god, I found so many issues with it. Saying that, I “enjoyed” it enough to finish it, which is why it has a rating in the first place, of 2 out of 5 stars. But let’s see my initial reactions…
“okay, first impressions: Anna is a whiny brat. I can let that slide somewhat because it is stereotypically what teenage girls are “meant” to be like (I never was and had infinitely more respect for my parents) but we’ll see how taxing she gets…” (3%)
Anna basically spends the opening chapters whining about how “average” and “normal” she is, along with moaning about how her absent parents are shipping her off to an American boarding school in Paris. If there was ever a suitable book for the hashtag #FIRSTWORLDPROBLEMS, this is it. Also, as a sidenote- why is it such a thing for all female protagonists to berate and hate on themselves constantly, only allowing it to be disproven by some boy who comes along telling them they are “special”? Why can’t a female protagonist actually like her looks for once, without it meaning that she is the “villain/mean girl/bitch/rival” in the story? That’s something I’d like to see in more Young Adult books, the main female character to actually not hate her own appearance so much and worry about the bigger issues!
“not cool Etienne. Why is he so popular? I mean I know why Anna fawns over him aka for no real reason aside from being “european” and good looking but…what a prat.” (25%)
Most fans of this book seem to adore it for one reason: Etienne. Well do you know what? Etienne comes across as a two-timing prick whose only “good” points, for Anna, seem to be having a British Accent (wooooo….there is no such thing as a British Accent, thanks- English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh, but not “British”, good god.). He basically spends most of this book favouring Anna and hardly having two discussions with his current girlfriend, if they have that much in common I don’t know why they didn’t just break up anyway.
“so basically she fancies every guy who shows her the faintest bit of attention…which is, of course, every guy she comes across? gawd this is such a Mary Sue. Again, why is this so popular?” (35%)
Anna spends a great deal of time putting herself down because she thinks she isn’t good enough for Etienne (although at this point, I suspect if you have a XX chromosone, you’re good enough for Etienne), and yet every guy in the school shows her some attention (aka saying “Hi”), and instantly she has these thoughts about dating them! Speaking as someone who used to think very little of themselves when she was younger, this meant I didn’t interpret every “hello” as a marriage proposal by some guy. Still don’t, in fact. Shocking I know.
My next massive gripe came along at 75%. While this is common in a lot of YA books when it’s “coming of age”, this one really annoyed me, speaking as someone who is “sober” and always has been…
“She doesn’t want to drink alcohol to which their response is “LETS GET ANNA DRUNK”. As someone who has personally lived that hell for 6 years, not cool to shrug off someone wanting to be sober for the sake of other people’s humour. Nope” (75%)
This is not excusable, but no doubt not many people picked up on it. Because it’s a “thing”. It’s hilarious to get so drunk that you can’t see past yourself. It’s hysterical to get so wasted on a night out that you spend the morning throwing up and you can’t remember your own name. Sure, that’s healthy. This is why nobody believes me when I say I’m sober and they proceed to list off all the drinks I “need to try” because “I just haven’t found the right drink yet” (Ha. Ha.Ha. No.)
The number of times people have said to me that I should get drunk purely because they want to see how I handle (or rather don’t handle) alcohol for their own entertainment. I can’t stand this type of messaging to young people. You should never force alcohol on someone just because you are okay with it- they might not be. Remember to respect everybody’s personal opinions. I’ll admit this sole moment lost this book an entire star on the rating. This is unacceptable to me and shouldn’t be ignored.
But hey, CUTE EUROPEAN BOYS RIGHT? WOOOOO. No. Young People are as smart as you let them be, and I found this book to be quite tedious and patronising at times. Needless to say, I will not be reading the companion novels to this book.