Izzy + Tristan – Shannon Dunlap | Review

I’m getting back on the horse with these reviews! A miserable weekend fuelled my reading fire, and I got a few little bookish things out of the way!

I started on our Book Club read (with a week until we meet, this is probably the finest I’ve cut it!), made a whole lot of Lion King Bookmarks to put up in my Etsy shop (and I’m mildly obsessed with them), and I’ve also scheduled a few blog posts so hopefully I can stay on top of them for a little while at least 😉 Yes sorry the mystery is ruined, I usually blog on weekends, not in real time!

Anyway let’s get on to the review – here’s one I read a few weeks ago!


This isn’t a story about anything new. It’s about the oldest thing in the world. It’s about love.

Sixteen-year-old Izzy, a bright aspiring 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, who has watched out for him over the years. When he and Izzy meet one fateful night, together they tumble into a story as old and unstoppable as love itself.

Blurb from Book Depository.


Modern retellings of classics has become a ‘thing’. I don’t know when, or why, but I swear all of a sudden I am seeing them everywhere! As you can probably guess, this book is a retelling of Tristan and Iseult (Isolde? I’ve seen it both ways and it continues to confuse me). It’s also the first of the recent barrage of retellings that I’ve picked up and read, and though I didn’t dislike it, I’m not in any rush to pick up more.

Don’t get me wrong, it was fine. I liked that they twisted the story in to a modern NYC setting, with Dunlap exploring themes of race and privilege, but to me it still felt like a somewhat trope-y YA read. Am I allowed to say that if it’s literally re-telling one of the classic stories? You know what I don’t care, I’m saying it anyway.

There was nothing to actively dislike about the book, the characters were easy to understand and relate to, for the most part they were likeable, and the plot trotted along nicely. It just wasn’t a captivating read that really hooked me in. Some books grab you by the arms and drag you in to them, until you have no choice but to keep turning the pages because you just have to know how it ends, dammit! Izzy + Tristan, however, is more like going on a stroll through the park…it’s nice, and enjoyable enough, but you think you’ve maybe been to this park before, or maybe it was a different one? I don’t know but it kinda looks the same.

This thing is, we get used to spinning a narrative in which we’re the heroes. If we do something good, it’s because we’re good; if we do something bad, it’s an excusable offence, and we expect allowances to be made.

With all that said, there were still a few stand out scenes in this book too. Dunlap is a debut author and she has done a great job at penning dramatic scenes and teen internal monologues. The characterisation was done well (I especially liked Patrice – Tristan’s mother-figure in the book), and there are snippets of conversation or narration that particularly impressed me, but unfortunately on the whole this just felt like a book I’d read a dozen times before.


Verdict: Not a stand out for me, just a perfectly okay YA retelling.

Page Length: 326

Publisher: Orion

What did you think of Izzy + Tristan, or modern retellings in general? Are there any retellings you’ve particularly enjoyed, or do you prefer the classics as they are?

M xx

Buy ‘Izzy + Tristan’ here

Thank you to Hachette for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

2 thoughts on “Izzy + Tristan – Shannon Dunlap | Review

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