Title and author: Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison
Date: Oct. 11, 2011
A modern retelling of the German fairy tale "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.
First, let me make a statement about the cover – it’s beautiful. At first glance this appears to be a love story, and I have read comments that say the cover was misleading; however, having read the novel and looked at the cover once more, it becomes clear to me that the cover does not depict a love story so much as a story about love. It is important that at the novel's conclusion you look to the cover again; the pieces of the puzzle should fall together.
This is a simple tale with a complex plot – what defines love? Can a “love” potion really be just that, a potion, or does free will have more to do with the situation? This is what Izzie is gripping with as the novel’s plot begins to unfold. While her head belongs to Mark, it seems that her heart and soul belong to Tris, but that is just because she drank the potion (by accident, of course), right?
Dealing with mixed feelings is not all Izzie must deal with in the novel. There is a terrible monster awaiting her death. One that wants to steal her magic, magic she does not believe she has, magic that she must do all in her power to preserve. A monster that sends others to "sniff" her out; to find and kill her. There are two people in Izzie's life who seem to know about this monster, two people who want to keep Izzie as safe as possible. After all, could be their last hope.
The writing of this novel does start off with a strong, solid plot idea. As a matter of fact, for most of the novel the author sets a clean pace for readers; however, as the end comes closer, it becomes clear that a deadline was looming and that an ending was needed. The ending is rushed, harsh, and not developed along the same pace as the rest of the novel. This makes the novel’s writing seem disjointed, as if there was no true direction for the novel’s conclusion.
With that said, I enjoyed this novel as a whole. I have read other reviews that were dissatisfied; however, I did not step away from this novel dissatisfied at all. Even with an ending that did not fully work for me, I felt that this novel was worth my time. I wanted to turn the page to see what kind of “mess” Izzie would find herself in next. It has been a while since I have read a character who is able to cause herself so much trouble so fast in such a comical way, whether it was meant to be comical or not. I found her character fun but a bit dense.
What I liked: (1) Izzie as a character; she was the most well-developed, the most even of all of the characters. While it is true she is the star of the plot and should be center stage, not all "stars" of novels are developed in a way that satisfies me. As a whole, I did enjoy her character and her evolution throughout the novel. (2) Izzie and her mom; loved their dynamic of holding one another accountable for everything and nothing at the same time. It seems these two have the stereotypical parent/teen relationship rife with secrets. (3) The magical element; I love a good witch story, one full of magic and intrigue. This one qualifies just as that for me.
What I disliked: The ending was a harsh reminder of Bella’s character in Breaking Dawn. Izzie had no idea for most of the novel how to work her power and then all of a sudden she could. Did not buy it for Bella and not buying it for Izzie.
Why you should read it: If you enjoy YA, if you enjoy magical reads, if you enjoy fairy tales, you should give this novel a fair shot. This author has a lot of potential to write another, more solid novel. The idea is there. The execution is there. She just needs to refine the pacing of bringing a conclusion to her writing.