Book Review: Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

Izzie and Mark have been dating for a while.  Izzie’s always been secure in her relationship with Mark because he feels safe.  Her life is pretty good until new boy Tristan shows up and shakes up her entire world.  She decides that the best way to deal with Tristan is to give him a love potion (which he’ll share with her best friend Brangane).  Things go wrong when Izzie herself ends up sharing the potion with Tristan.  As she falls for him, she realizes that life is about to get a lot more complicated–and magical.

Honestly?  I don’t know where to start.

Everything about this book screams unfinished: the prose is so badly written that I found myself wondering (quite often) if the book got its start as fan fiction somewhere.  It certainly seems plausible: hailed as a modern retelling of Tristan and Isolde (a story which most readers probably aren’t familiar with, unless they’ve seen the atrocious movie version starring James Franco from some years back), there’s got to be a group of people out there who devote time to rewriting this classic love story.  I should state, for the record, that I have no problem with fan fiction in general.  It’s a creative outlet, and I respect that.  What I have trouble with is the fact that this book is a complete and total mess.

The problem starts with the fact that apart from borrowing some character names and the concept of a love potion, there’s not much to this story that could be considered a retelling of the love story.  After Harrison sets up the basic premise, she allows the narrative to spin wildly out of the realm of the original legend.  Tristan is from another world (kind of?) and so is Izzie.  The two must face off against a slew of monsters and beasties who want Izzie dead.  The original legend is convoluted enough; Harrison’s rendering of the story even more so.

Fantastical story elements would be easier to swallow if every aspect of the story didn’t seem so clunky.  The magical elements of Tris and Izzie’s world are so awkwardly inserted into the story that it’s jarring.  There is an unbelievable amount of exposition, and the narrative itself is disjointed and repetitive.  None of the characters are developed in any real way and most are vapid and unlikable.  The dialogue is stilted and unnatural.

I can’t recommend this book in good conscience.  The cover is gorgeous, which makes the book all the more deceptive.  It’s possible that very young teen readers will enjoy this book for the simple romance and the light action sequences, but I have my doubts about that.

Tris & Izzie hits bookshelves TODAY.

Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison.  EdgmontUSA: 2011.  Electronic galley accepted for review via Netgalley.

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