Second Look: Mette Ivie Harrison’s TRIS & IZZIE (HC, 2011)

Title: Tris & Izzie
Author: Mette Ivie Harrison
Age: Young Adult (8+ for awkward sexual references)
Genre: Modern Myth Retelling

What It’s About
A modern retelling of the German epic Tristan & Isolde, Harrison places Tris and Izzie into a modern day high school in an unspecified state.  To give it the mythical quality, Harrison adds magic to the story, giving it a more modern-fantasy sort of setting/background.

Izzie is quite content being non-magic and having a non-magic boyfriend in Mark King – captain of the basketball team and all around School Spirit Personified.  Little does Izzie know that her best friend, Branna, is in love with her boyfriend.  And when she meets Tristan, a new student, she tries to get Tristan to fall in love with Branna by giving them both a love potion.  Only Izzie drinks the potion instead of Branna and attributes her feelings to that.  For most of the book, she tries to keep herself convinced she’s better with “safe” Mark and Tristan is nothing but trouble.

Reader’s Thoughts
Honestly – I was expecting something dark and tragic like the 2006 film Tristan + Isolde.  Harrison’s version is NOTHING like that.  It’s light-hearted (even when it tries to be dark and tragic).  At times, it almost reads like a Comedy of Errors (like when Izzie drinks the “love potion” meant for Branna).  The magical elements were also something I wasn’t expecting.  I was hoping for a modern, real world retelling of T&I.  Though Harrison makes it all work.

Character-wise, Harrison tries to push Independent Girl! a little much with Izzie while still trying to stick to Traditional Ideals with how Mark and Izzie are in a relationship and Branna’s commentary.  I wasn’t a fan of the attempt at hidden messages within the story, I don’t think it worked as subtly as it could have.

Despite all the surprises and things that I thought didn’t work – Harrison’s a good writer.  I would definitely read something else she publishes.  She writes fluidly and keeps the pace going well so that I never got bored or wanted to actually put the book down.

I enjoyed it.  It was a quick read and I’d definitely recommend it, as I’m a general fan of retellings.  It just wasn’t what I was originally expecting when I picked it up.

Star Rating: 6.5/10

Goodies: Tris & Issie: Official Page

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