Will Greyson, Will Greyson by John Green and David Levinthal (310 pages)
Overview: *Reading the summary before reading the book is imperative to your understanding and enjoyment of this book.* This is the story of Will Greyson and Will Greyson who both live in the Chicago area, though one in Evanston and one in Naperville. Original Will Greyson must deal with a friend group he doesn't always agree with and a crush for a girl, Jane, that he can't ever quite figure out enough to act on. The other Will Greyson must grapple with an online relationship that makes him confront realities about himself he's not quite ready to embrace, and he runs the risk of heartbreak in the act of bringing online contact to face to face meeting. Through a series of unlikely circumstances, the two Will Greyson's meet, and when their lives start to mingle, it might stand to shake up both Will Greyson's norms. Overall: 3.5
Characters: 3 I found that these characters faltered. While they appeared vividly in my head, some seemed to be built purely on stereotype with illogical evolutions or complete stagnation. This was the biggest problem when talking about the LGBT characters in the story. They are so heavily built upon stereotypes that it is a bit frustrating to read them. After seeing so many wonderful books that offer great representation (History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera or The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli), it made me sad to see this book aim for representation but ultimately lean on stereotypes as a crutch.
As for the two other more prominent characters in the book, OG Will Greyson and Jane, they were crafted well and left in the hands of John Green for which their dynamic was well within Green's usual scope and comfort zone. Both these characters were strong and well written, and I found both their characters and their romance compelling.
Plot: 3 There was plot. It made coherent sense. That's really all I can say for what I thought of the plot. Essentially, it's about the two Will Greyson's and the various problems that arise in their lives that never achieve much of a great feeling of importance. There were some underdevelopment of characters that seemed to play into some of the plot issues.
Writing: 3 Scoring the writing was difficult for me. After checking out a clip on Amazon, I learned that the two authors took turns writing the chapters. They each got a Will Greyson. I could have figured this out, though from simply reading the book. Original Will Greyson's voice is so in character with the John Green writing I adore. I found those sections of the story showed good development, and even the stereotypical gay character had depth that I appreciated. Perhaps if I'd only read OG Will Greyson's sections, I would have liked the book better.
What tanked most of these scores was the other Will Greyson. (This ties into my ** message above). When I started chapter two, I was shocked by the sparse, underwritten writing that shunned capitalization rules and left dialogue in a script format. After I realized that there were indeed two Will Greyson's, the story started to make more sense, but the writing got no more enjoyable. I spent most of those sections skimming through the writing of a character overwrought with anger, stereotypes, and issues that seemed to be thrown at him for the sake of making a more tortured soul.
Side Note: This book got an extra half point for the Acknowledgement section. Often, I skim the first paragraph or two just out of curiosity before stopping due to the long, overdrawn sentences full of names that mean nothing to me. Not with this one. It was hilarious and interesting and totally entertaining, sneaking in the few people they wished to thank in artful ways and throwing in a few random things just for laughs. If you read this book, be sure not to miss it. It wound up being one of my favorite parts.
Links of Interest:
In the article I referenced History is All You Left Me and The Upside of Unrequited. You can find my thoughts on those books here:
Other books by John Green:
The Fault In Our Stars: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/10/the-book-and-movie-fault-in-our-stars.html
Turtles All The Way Down: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/10/weekly-reviews-and-recommendations-week_18.html
Looking For Alaska: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/07/reviews-and-recommendations-week-16.html
An Abundance of Katharines: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/06/weekly-reviews-and-recommendations-week_25.html
Paper Towns: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/05/weekly-reviews-and-recommendations-week_21.html
Week 33 Part 2: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/11/weekly-reviews-and-recommendations-week_5.html