Sunday, May 16, 2010

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

So by now everyone knows I’m kind of a John Green fan girl, and that I was ridiculously excited about the recent release of Will Grayson, Will Grayson this month. Now I tend to find that with great anticipation and excitement can come one of two things – great pleasure or great disappointment. Thus, as excited I was about Will Grayson, Will Grayson, I tried to brace myself - just in case.

The Facts

Authors: John Green and David Levithan
Publisher: Text Publishing (Australia), originally by Dutton Juvenile
Date: 2010
Length: 310 pages

The Fiction

“What if you were somewhere
you never expected to be
and met someone with your name?”

As the title suggests, Will Grayson, Will Grayson is about two teenage boys who share the same name. One Will Grayson lives his life by two strict rules 1. Don’t care too much & 2. Shut up. His world is dominated by his larger-than-life best friend, Tiny Cooper who has written an autobiographical musical and is attempting to bring it to the school stage (and possibly humiliate Will in the process). The other Will Grayson is severely depressed, medicated and angry. The one thing he looks forward to is his nightly IMs with net-friend Isaac.
One night, the two Will Graysons meet, and their lives are hugely impacted. In the same vein as Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List (both collaborative novels by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan), the story alternates between the two Will Graysons, and is an engaging narrative of love, lies, and laughter, culminating in an unbelievably amazing musical theatre experience.

So onto the Will Graysons. John Green’s Will Grayson is the one I thought I would immediately love. JG WG definitely fits the almost archetypal male protagonist of JG novels – though he seems more to the Q side (less socially awkward and book smart) than the uber-nerdish (but no less loveable) Miles and Colin. This WG definitely has that distinctively John Green voice (not only in the fact that I feel Green writes in a very specific style, but also that I read all of his chapters as if John Green himself is actually speaking it. Does this make sense? I think if you’ve watched any of his videos, you would know what I mean. Actually this might clarify). What I adored the most with his writing and it’s the same thing I love about all of Green’s books, is the way he writes friendship. The relationship between Tiny Cooper and Will Grayson was just - sigh – tops. I really loved it. Green is able to realistically write, particularly male friendships, in a way that is funny, touching and heartfelt, without being sappy or lame.

Then there is David Levithan’s will grayson (for some reason, capitals need not apply in his chapters). Now whilst I am clearly a John Green fan girl, I am also a big fan of David Levithan as well and if I’m really honest, it was probably his Will Grayson that I ultimately enjoyed more (though don’t get me wrong, I still loved JGWG!) David’s wg is probably the more ‘real’ teen voice, in that I felt that he better captured a sincere and emotional experience. He is also amazingly well written (though I think some will find him harder to engage with – he is less immediately likeable). DL’s wg also had a definite vulnerability to him, which I felt was well balanced with a dry, black sense of humour.

Now Tiny Cooper. Where to begin? Tiny is the “world’s largest person who is really, really gay” and is just utterly fabulous! He reminded me of Green’s Hassan from An Abundance of Katherines with Infinite Darlene from Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy, played by Daniel Franzese (Damian in Mean Girls). Whilst some may find him over-the-top, I felt he had a really loveable exuberance and was full of heart and good intentions. Also, the whole musical Tiny Dancer/Hold Me Closer, “the gayest single musical in all of human history”, was just so camp and touching (actually, it reminded me of Hamlet 2). I will also say that though there has been some criticism of the ending, I honestly loved it and felt it tied a whole lot of threads together quite effectively, whilst leaving the reader with the right mix of satisfaction, emotional impact and warm fuzzies.

On the (slightly) down side, I really didn’t like Maura at all (though also felt she was treated somewhat unfairly - regardless of her later actions in the story, I felt will grayson used her) and also felt Jane just needed something more. So I guess, would have liked to have seen some of the female characters better developed, though in saying that, I thought will grayson’s mother was extremely well composed.

Clearly, I’ve gone on for long enough. This book was definitely worth the wait, and every moment of my excitement and anticipation! Will Grayson, Will Grayson is everything I want to read and evidently love in young adult literature – awash with pop culture, loveable & relatable characters, witty dialogue and a whole lot of heart.


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