06 January 2014

Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

I read a book!

Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green and David Levithan.

Let's get this out of the way. I love John Green. I love everything he touches.  So, while I can identify some weaknesses of this book, I don't care. Sins forgiven!

That's not to say this a bad book. Far from it. I enjoyed the heck out of it, and not just the John Green parts, either. I've never read anything by David Levithan, but after this book, I will. (Ha. See what I did there?)

The book follows two very different teenagers named Will Grayson. Having each author separately write each Will in first person in alternating chapters was a great idea. I thought it was a unique way to tell two different stories in two different styles. It's clear the stories are connected and play off each other, but the inter-connectivity is subtle and didn't feel forced... for the most part.

Both Wills were interesting, well-rounded characters. John Green's Will, straight Will, felt very much like Green's other male protagonists. For some, like me, this is a good thing, for others it is a problem.  Sorry!

I don't know David Levithan's work, but his Will made me want to read more by him.  Levithan's Will starts out so realistically and authentically an asshole teenager that its quite an accomplishment to make me care so much about him and his journey. This Will struggles with his sexuality and depression in such an honest way. I haven't read many books with characters like this Will.

The lynch pin that holds the two Will Graysons' world together is Tiny Cooper, and while some may find him to unbelievable and over-the-top, rest assured that I have met Tiny Coopers. They are just as unbelievable in real life. However, without giving much away, while I understood Tiny's role in both Wills' lives, the ending didn't quite work for me. I don't think it ruined the book, but it didn't help it either.  I guess I just expected more, especially on Levithan's Will's side.

I found much to relate to in this book, from both of the story lines.  I've said before that John Green's books aren't FOR teenagers as much as they are ABOUT teenagers.  This book threw me back into my own high school years, and made me think a lot about the relationships and drama in my adolescent life. That being said, I don't know if I would have got nearly as much out of this book if I read is as a teenager. (This is a critique on me, not of the book.) I don't know if I would care about characters and situations that were so much like the daily life I was living. I didn't read YA when I was a YA, and I haven't read any outside of John Green, so how this - or any - YA book works with its intended demographic, I can't say.

Some other readers have questioned how realistic high schools are that are so tolerant of homosexuality.  I can't speak to how high schools are now, but it sure is nice to think that they could be this tolerant. Its not perfect for the characters in the book, its not a tolerant utopia. But for these characters, homosexuality is just another one of the things that must be navigated in high school.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson was pretty much what I expected, a funny, touching, quick read that made me recall my own teenage years. If you are John Green fan, this book will not disappoint. If you are not a John Green fan, I don't think this will change your mind. Your loss.

I hope this book will cross pollinate and help fans of one author discover the other. That's how it worked for

tl;dr: If you like John Green, you've probably already read this book.

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