Sunday, September 18, 2011

On Love Potions: A Review of Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

I'm probably the last person that should have read a book like Tris and Izzie. I've said often enough that I despise love triangles. But I thought the idea of a modern retelling of Tristan and Isolde might have potential. And the cover is so gorgeous. Yes, I know there's a saying about that, but damn it, just look at this thing--
It's so lovely and atmospheric! Between this and the description, I was prepared for a lot of romance and teen angst and magic--all good things. What I got was frustration.

Backing up a bit, let me summarize briefly: Izzie has been with Mark for over a year, and the two are quite happy together. But Izzie's friend Branna is the proverbial eternal bridesmaid-- nice, but less attractive, shy and socially awkward. Izzie decides to help Branna out by stealing a love potion from Izzie's mother (who is a witch) and attempting to make Branna fall in love with the new kid at school, Tristan. The plan backfires and Izzie ends up in love with Tristan instead.

Positive Comments:

The premise has potential. Even when you add in the contrived love potion conflict, this story could still work. I imagined that it would be a lot like "marriage of convenience" plots in historical romance, or perhaps "fated mates" in paranormal. Two people who initially don't like each other are forced to be together, and over time genuine love develops. Unfortunately that's not the case in this book. It seems like wasted potential.

I liked the secondary characters--namely Mark and Branna. I felt for Mark, who did nothing wrong except date the wrong girl. Plus, at one point he straight up punches Izzie in the head. I'm not condoning abuse here--in the context of the plot, she really deserved it. 

Critical Comments:

I hated Izzie. She's selfish, reckless, manipulative, and worst of all stupid. Her love potion scheme was perhaps the most thoughtless (albeit good intentioned) plan one could possibly invent to help a friend. Much like Jane Austen's Emma, Izzie thinks she knows what's best for everyone, but her attempts to manipulate only make things worse. The real kicker for me was the fact that she drinks the love potion voluntarily. She knows what it is, and that Tristan already drank his half, and whoever drinks the other half will be stuck with him. She gulps down the second half anyway, just to stop Mark or anyone else from drinking it. She could have walked away, or dropped the bottle "accidentally", but no, she drinks it. And then whines about it's apparent effects. Effects that, incidentally, can only be erased by death.

The magic in this universe only barely makes sense. If I've pieced it together correctly, there are witches who use potions, sorcerers who have power over the elements, and alchemists who have power over metals. And also, big scary monsters to battle. It sounds more like the plot to a video game than a paranormal romance novel.
Yeah, the "villain" is a giant snake. I really wish I were kidding.
By the time we get to the final boss battle, where Tris and Izzie face off against Gurmun the snake of doooom, I was really hoping one of them would die. That would solve everyone's problems. Instead we get the most shoe-horned in loophole ever, allowing our "heroes" to save the day.

To be fair, Tristan isn't a bad character. He's severely underdeveloped, but I didn't hate him. However, the romance is extremely thin and not in the least bit believable. There's no build up of emotions, no connection through dialogue or shared experiences, and no affection. The entire relationship is a handful of passionate kisses. This problem was made worse by Izzie's bipolar attitude toward Tristan--one moment she's making out with him, the next she's slapping him across the face.


This is not a book I would recommend. At times it approached so-bad-it's-good levels, where it became unintentionally funny. But other than for purposes of poking fun at the silly plot and stupid characters, don't waste your time. 1.5 stars.


  1. I originally wanted to read this just for the cover, which is so beautiful! <3

    LOL! I love how you wrote the review, real fun and witty. Sometime the best reviews come from strong emotions even when it's "oh this is dumb!"

    Perhaps I'll just apprisiate the cover for the cover's sake. ;D

  2. I became your follower number one hundred! :D Yay for the magic number. ;)

  3. Hi Niina, thanks for being my 100th follower! It's still a lovely cover, which would make a really great poster :)

  4. I'm SO guilty of buying books because of the cover and all too often I am disappointed in them. But even knowing this, I will still hesitate to buy a book that sounds good but has an unattractive cover.
    Sorry to hear that you were so disappointed with this one. I'll probably be skipping this based on the reviews.

  5. Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy this one. I'm dying to read it as it sounds like the kind of book I'd love and the cover is so pretty!

  6. You are much braver than I am. I only got a little more than half way through and I had to stop. There were so many things that I couldn't take and they ended up outshining the things I didn't mind so much. Awesome review, though, I really liked the comparison to a video game :0)

    Sarah @ The Book Life

  7. Sarah, what can I say, I'm a martyr to the bad review cause. I really wanted to finish this thing and slap a star rating on it instead of a DNF. And I really did find it funny in it's absurdity.

  8. I am guilty of buying books based on covers too. Sometimes it has worked out for me (Tiger's Curse). Unfortunately sometimes it didn't (Iron King). Sorry to hear you didn't like the book. Good luck on the next one!

  9. I made it 50 pages into this book. I made it that far because I wanted to see just how bad it could get. But I had to give up eventually. So disappointing.


Thoughtful comments are appreciated! I always respond to them, and I usually return the favor! Happy reading!

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