As another summers day draws to a close and the night creeps in over the rooftops of Belgian suburbia, I turn, as ever, to my laptop, and clatter away at my keyboard for half an hour or so... The result? I have another book review for you!
It's true - I am a complete hipster when it comes to books, and more specifically when it comes to reading books which it seems like every teenager under the sun has read, such as Twilight, The Hunger Games, and ultimately anything by John Green. I appreciate that Will Grayson, Will Grayson is the result of a collaboration, but never having read anything by David Levithan I have always had this erroneous idea that it was solely by John Green.
Either way, in the midst of the TFIOS madness that ensued last month I was feeling a decided aversion to the book and movie, both of which were being promoted in YouTube pre-roll adds, and by what seemed like every other YouTuber. Having seen and not enjoyed the movie as much as I'd anticipated, I decided to do my best to rekindle my love of John's books by finally getting round to reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson.
I'll start off by saying something quick about the cover: in a nutshell, I don't like it. It's nearly impossibly not to judge a book by what you see first, and with only a vague idea of the story, it definitely wasn't the most interesting of covers, and probably wouldn't have made me pick it up in a bookshop if I hadn't already been a fan of John's work.
The story is essentially about two very different boys who share the same name and end up meeting by accident one night, and then about the consequences which unfold as a result. The alternating chapters, told in remarkably different styles, really brought home the differences between the two boys, much needed as it could have been tricky to tell which chapter was about which - they do have the same name, after all. Having read all his books and watched the vlogbrothers channel and various others for a few years now, I could tell quite early on which half of the novel was written by John Green, purely from the style of writing and turn of phrase used.
The book deals with a lot of topics which aren't so often found in YA fiction, primarily coming out, homophobia, and living with depression. In my opinion, both authors did a fabulous job grappling with all these themes, while not overdoing it or turning it into a story of morals. However, I can't say it really clicked with me, as a story - maybe it's just far removed from the kinds of thing I usually read, but I found it quite difficult to get emotionally invested in the story, as I'd expected to from the reviews on the back cover. I couldn't relate to any of the characters on anything but a superficial level, and with the exception of Levithan's Will Grayson, they fell into stereotypes too much to seem believable as teenagers. However, if you enjoy John Green's books as a rule, you will no doubt be convinced by this one.