Izzy + Tristan by Shannon Dunlap – Book Review

Title: Izzy + Tristan

Author: Shannon Dunlap

Genre/Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Reinterpretation of Tristan and Iseult, Chess, First Love

Blurb from Goodreads

Izzy, a practical-minded teen who intends to become a doctor, isn’t happy about her recent move from the Lower East Side across the river to Brooklyn. She feels distanced from her family, especially her increasingly incomprehensible twin brother, as well as her new neighbourhood.

And then she meets Tristan.

Tristan is a chess prodigy who lives with his aunt and looks up to his cousin, Marcus. He and Izzy meet one moonlit night, and together they tumble into a story as old and unstoppable as love itself.

My Review

I’m a sucker for a doomed romance so when I heard that this book was a modern reinterpretation of the story of Tristan and Iseult I had to read it. I first became familiar with the story from the supremely cheesy film Tristan and Isolde that I unashamedly adore and have seen far more times than I probably should admit to lol!

So I definitely enjoyed this book! Its not the greatest thing ever written but I was certainly invested in the storyline from the get go. It’s 100% insta love, crazy for you, over the top, hysterical type of boy meets girl love at first sight but none of that bothered me. Instead I just found myself falling for these characters’ love story as much as they had fallen for each other.

I really enjoyed the way that chess was used as an overarching theme for this story with different characters being represented by different chess pieces; Izzy – queen, Tristan – knight, Brianna – rook. It added an extra dimension to the story for me and gave it that formal court setting that reminded me of the original legend…yeah okay I mean reminded me of the film… 

The thing about the book though is that the characters weren’t exactly all that well written. Izzy is supposed to be someone with a passion for medicine and healing and this was really under done in the novel. What I mean is that I feel her interest was only mentioned in passing and was purely perfunctory so that the book could take a nod from the original legend where she heals Tristan of his wounds and here she helps him with a bruised ankle. Other than that I feel like Izzy had very little other interests and an underdeveloped backstory. I never understood her connection with her twin brother Hull. In fact he was just a very odd part of the book in general and really his character could have been axed from the story. 

As for Tristan, well at least we saw his passion for chess but I definitely didn’t understand how he was so under his cousin Marcus’ thumb. Like I know that in the original myth that Tristan was indebted to the King Mark character and saw him as a sort of mentor but in the book the relationship between Tristan and Marcus wasn’t really as believable. Because Marcus was basically a douchebag and it just didn’t make sense to me why Tristan went along with his shady ways so much. 

And oh my gosh I basically spent most of the book silently yelling at Izzy and Tristan to just cop on!!!


But despite all these issues I still enjoyed the book *shrugs shoulders*
It was an easy read and the romance was intense and heady with the characters making all the wrong choices so as a reader I just knew where the story was headed but that made it all the more fun?!? I don’t know. Like I said earlier I just love a doomed romance.

Only recommended to fans of pure love stories.

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10 thoughts on “Izzy + Tristan by Shannon Dunlap – Book Review

  1. Oh no to the stupid decision making and underwhelming character development, but oh yes to Tristan and Isolde! I gotta admit that that silly movie was actually why I became so stupidly obsessed with their story when I was in HS and I’m pretty sure I’ve also watched the movie too many times hahaha I think I might eventually give this a go! Sounds like something the hopeless romantic in me would love 😂

    Liked by 1 person

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