So I've had a few requests to review something by John Green. And I guess that maybe it is a little sad that I hadn't read anything by him if I am reviewing YA. I've also heard great things about David Levithan, so please don't take me naming Green first to mean that I think Levithan is a slouch. Anyway, my initial plan was to read and review Paper Towns (and to those who have requested it, rest assured that I will get to it.) But when I got to Chapters and was selecting books, something about Will Grayson, Will Grayson called out to me.
It might have been the musical aspect. I did that in high school.
It might have been the fact that I could check out two different authors. Seemed like an interesting concept.
Or it might have been the shiny, semi-glittery cover.
Okay, I confess: the cover hooked me. I'll gladly admit that I'm a girl who likes her glitter. :D
Anyway, this book has a lot more going for it then a pretty cover. Read on to hear my thoughts.
The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.
Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both them both legions of faithful fans.
There were lots of interesting things going on in this book. The friendship between Will Grayson and Tiny. The developing relationship between Will Grayson and Jane. The musical Tiny Dancer and all of the changes it goes through. will grayson's relationships with Issac, Maura, Tiny, Gideon, his mom...
The whole Issac situation really hit me hard. I know what it's like to date online. I know how it feels to care about someone from a distance. I know the horror of having that person not be real. I know the excitement that can be felt when you are about to meet someone and they seem so special and perfect and wonderful and "How did I ever live without him?" ... And I think the authors did a fantastic job capturing this. I also know what it's like to have someone do what Maura does to will grayson -- I had that done to me (a fake love interest) during my own teenage years. Let me tell you: it burns. Yet again, they nailed this perfectly.
I loved the anxiety, energy and overall feeling of wonder that was evoked throughout the scenes for the play. The struggles of Tiny and the other characters to get it off the ground, and the sense that we, as readers, actually get to "see" Tiny's accomplishment, is (once again) handled extremely well. I found myself really caring what was going on here. I also found myself reading the song lyrics rather then skipping them as I might have if I hadn't been so invested.
I felt that both Will Graysons felt extremely real and that I was able to relate to their unique challenges and struggles. In short, Green and Levithan succeeded in creating a plot that both felt like it could happen and yet managed to keep it from becoming predictable or boring.
Okay, you have to admit this: the point of view focuses may be on the two Will Graysons, but Tiny Cooper completely steals the show from start to finish. I loved Tiny. I loved his optimism. I loved his kindness. I loved his overall zeal and zest for life. I loved the fact that he was a huge guy -- and as we meet him from will grayson's point of view we learn that doesn't just mean 'tall and well muscled' as I had originally pictured... Tiny is a "fatty". I don't care if he's a guy: when he said that he was comfortable with his size -- and that its how it makes others act that was the problem -- I cheered. I like the fact that while being gay is part of who Tiny is, that it clearly is not all that he is. Yet again: I have much, much love for Tiny Cooper.
Of the two Will Graysons, I think that I liked Levithan's character best. I know there are people who will definitely disagree here, but I just found a lot more in his story that I, personally, connected with. I will admit that the first time that I read from his point of view I was like "Whoa! This guy is an asshat!" But as the story continues and I got to know the character better, I was deeply invested in what happened to him. I really loved seeing him and Tiny together. I couldn't blame him for wanting to freeze Maura out. I enjoyed watching his growing friendship with Gideon progress.
The other characters were all pretty good in their own ways. For some reason I didn't connect as heavily with Will Grayson and Jane's relationship, but it wasn't "bad". I liked the fact that both Green and Levithan had parents present for the characters and that those parents were not just window dressing; it can annoy me when that happens.
I have nothing against the romance between Will Grayson and Jane... But for some reason it didn't click with me. I wasn't biting my nails and going "Oh, come on! Get together, already." I was glad they did, but it wasn't this earth shattering life-altering thing that had to happen for the book to be complete. I think that the authors realized this, too, based on when it happened in the book.
Now Tiny and will grayson, on the other hand... They just kept making me go "Awww!" Probably not what the authors were going for, but that's an "it's me, not them" thing. Me going "Awww!" is a good thing when I am talking about the romance in a book. You want me doing that. And when things took a wrong turn, I couldn't stop reading. I was desperate to find out what would happen.
And here is the thing (Massive Spoilers Ahead: They leave it in the air. We don't actually find out whether will grayson and Tiny get back together, or whether will gets together with Gideon, or whether he is still single, or what. Gah! That drove me nuts!) I can't decide whether I missed the whole point of the book, or whether this was done to let a reader reach their own conclusion.
I must admit there have been some delays with my reviews this week. Those are purely related to my life and totally not to do with the pacing of this book -- it was perfect and when the opportunity to read arose I could not put this down. Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a book that I really enjoyed, and one that I will likely be loaning to family and friends for a long time.
Honest, funny, original and memorable, I cannot recommend Will Grayson, Will Grayson enough. This is a book that deserves to be on everyone's shelf.