2. Think about the insufferable Will Grayson in context. He is depressed. Hiding his sexuality. His "best2nd review: 1. I recommend this one on audio.
2. Think about the insufferable Will Grayson in context. He is depressed. Hiding his sexuality. His "best" friend pulls a hideous prank on him, hoping to force him out of the closet. And he has no support group.
3. He may be insufferable … but he should know … It Gets Better.
Old review: Ok . . . A Few Things Before I Begin:
1. This review will contain language. I don't typically curse, especially in reviews, but I am in the mood to curse today in this review. If you don't like cursing, don't read on.
2. I almost gave it 2 stars, but it redeemed itself.
3. I had impossibly high hopes for Will Grayson, Will Grayson, even though I am pretty sure David Levithan is one of my least favorite YA authors. My hopes were not met.
Alright, so most people reading this review probably know what it's about. For those who don't . . . in brief . . . Two separate high schoolers named Will Grayson meet unexpectedly on the streets of Chicago. Their lives become intertwined through a mutual friend. A fabulous musical is staged.
Now . . . as I said, I wanted to love this book, or, at least, like it a lot, but I didn't. More truthfully, I didn't like David Levithan's half of the book. To be fair, I am not 100% sure it was Levithan's section I hated, but I am about 98% sure.
Here's the problem . . . with the book as a whole, and with Levithan's section in particular.
Both Will Grayson's are insufferable pricks in the beginning. Both are jaded, they don't know how to deal with their situations, and they both deal with their emotions as little as possible. However, Green's Grayson has rules for how he deals with people, he isn't supremely cold, and he’s just distant so he doesn't get hurt. Levithan's Grayson is cold just for the thrill of being cold. He is a straight up asshole to everyone around him. He's not distant, he's a fucking jackass. People try to help Green's Grayson and he pushes them away but feels bad about it. People try to reach out to Levithan's Grayson and he pulls out a match, lights them on fire, and laughs while he warms his hands, then pisses all over the ashes. How am I supposed to relate to that? Or care about him? Few times in my life have I wanted to beat up a fictional character, especially when that character is a teenager. This kid is such a jag, that I want him to get his ass kicked. I get that he has problems, but he is soooooooooooo horrible that I absolutely do not care!
Green's Grayson may be a jerk at times. And he doesn't go through any of the life-altering or shitty things that Levithan's Grayson does, but at least he picks his friend's nose.
I read another review that claimed Levithan's characters are brutally realistic. Really? Because that's my biggest problem with this character and his other ones. They are forced kind of edgy. Like Levithan sits at his desk and thinks, "This character is going to be so edgy; he's going to give people paper cuts." They aren't realistic. They are one-dimensional, faux-hipster douche bags. They aren't edgy. Green's characters may all be the same, but there is honesty in their sameness. They are extensions of Green himself. Levithan's characters seem like Levithan wants to be cooler than he is, so he supplants that longing on his characters. There is nothing natural or real about Levithan's Grayson.
Which brings me to the final point I have to make: The two Grayson's treatment of Tiny, their big, gay friend. To Green's Grayson, Tiny is sometimes a pain in the ass, but sometimes friends are. Tiny is who Tiny is to Green. He's big. He's gay. He's Will Grayson's best friend, through thick and thin. Levithan's Grayson, however, treats Tiny totally differently. There are reasons for this. Tiny is this Grayson's first boyfriend, and he is struggling with that. But he is so cruelly shallow when it comes to Tiny's weight, that he can't be forgiven. He doesn't see the inside of Tiny. He dates him, but seems to hate how fat Tiny is. Nothing else is really mentioned when it comes to Levithan's Grayson's view of Tiny, except to mention he is a Fatty, etc. Seriously, I wanted to throw up thinking about how shallow Levithan is in his treatment of Tiny. Other things don't come up, or rarely do, and they always play second fiddle to disparaging remarks about Tiny's weight.
Seriously, why is Levithan's Will Grayson such a fucking jerk?
In the end, however, it is Levithan that leaves the story with its best, and most emotionally satisfying scene . . . The End. Just kidding, sort of. Levithan's Will Grayson may in the end realize that he is jerk. He may try to change that. We are left hoping that he is headed for the best. And his "stunt" in the end did have me cheering him and his journey to that place.
Green does a fine job of adding another John Green story to his cannon.
Levithan does little well. (What's the point of writing all in lower case? (oh to prove how hip and fucking edgy he is.)) However, Levithan does take his Grayson on a much bigger and satisfying journey, and salvages his bit of the book in the end. He's a skilled writer. Maybe I am just expecting too much of him.
Clare, C. (2007). City of bones. New York, NY: Margaret K. McElderry.
Clary Fray is just a normal teenager, until she encounters a murder that no one eClare, C. (2007). City of bones. New York, NY: Margaret K. McElderry.
Clary Fray is just a normal teenager, until she encounters a murder that no one else could see. Then a monster breaks into her house and kidnaps her mother. As if things couldn’t get any stranger, Clary discovers she is an integral part of an underground world. A world that includes demons and the Shadowhunters that kill them. Fans of Buffy or Supernatural will love this urban fantasy. City of Bones is snarky and dark, building an interesting new world for Clary and her new Shadowhunting friends to play and slay in. Overall, the writing is a little too cute and clever, and the story is familiar. But the characters are strong and the jokes are funny, making for a good read. (Grades 8+ for some mild language and sexuality.)
DON’T listen to the audiobook. Ari Graynor is a great actress, she is great in Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, but she misses the mark her. She just doesn’t have the spark to really make this a great audiobook.
The bad audiobook also points out the bigger flaws of the book book. That is . . . it is adverb city. Seriously. A hospital is aggressively air-conditioned. A character makes a fantastically illegal u-turn (or something like that). Maybe I wouldn’t have noticed this if I’d been reading the book and I would have been more into the demon killing. However, the audiobook seemed to drag on forever, and at some point I stopped caring about the story, and the characters. So all I heard were all the aggravatingly annoying adverbs.
I’m sure fans of this series are aware of its derivativeness, but c’mon. Why not just watch Buffy or Supernatural and read Harry Potter (or any other fantasy series for that matter). It’ll have the same effect.
So, I feel like I am trashing this book quite a bit, when it wasn’t really that bad. Clare does a great job of building the mythology for the series and she has a great foundation for a world. It isn’t her fault that the same thing has been done before, and that could be why she was so interested in building her world. The book certainly isn’t sloppy, and the humor is quite effective.
Similar Titles (Read-A-Likes):
Buffy Books, Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV Series), Angel (TV Series), Vampire Diaries (TV Series), and Supernatural (TV Series)...more
Hamilton, S. (2010). The lock artist. New York, NY: Minotaur Books. At 8 years old, a tragedy left Mike without parents, and completelyspeechless. TwenHamilton, S. (2010). The lock artist. New York, NY: Minotaur Books. At 8 years old, a tragedy left Mike without parents, and completelyspeechless. Twenty years later, he still hasn’t spoken a word, and he’s locked up. So, what led the “Wonder Boy” to this point? Was it the tragedy? Was it his lockpicking/safecracking skills? Or was it the choice to protect his one true love? Hamilton manages to give his mute protagonist a voice, never letting Mike make excuses, but never turning him into a full criminal. Instead, he has managed to turn the typical heist novel into a quiet, subtle character study. The Lock Artist is equal parts calming and heart-pounding. (Best for Grades 9+, some language, sex, pretty violent in bursts)
My biggest “like” of this books is Mike. He is a great character. Moreover, he doesn’t make excuses. That’s become a pet peeve of mine; that is when authors use a tragedy to make excuses for their characters. Mike has a few moments of, “If I wasn’t right here at this time,” but he takes full responsibility for his actions. That is what I loved about Charles Benoit’s You and it is what I like here.
So many books and movies, especially with safecrackers, are all about the coolness of the heist. Hamilton steers clear of that. He introduces a pretty cool gang of theives, but the focus is always Mike who is always aware that he is breaking the law. There is a great line where Mike calls his lockpicking/safecracking an “unforgivable skill.”
Similar titles (Read-A-Likes):
You by Charles Benoit, Boy Toy by Barry Lyga, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay, Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer
Other Stuff You Might Like:
Dexter(TV Series), Anything by Stephen Soderbergh(especially The Limey, Traffic, The Underneath), Goodfellas, Veronica Mars, Panic...more
Urasawa, N, & Tezuka, O. (2009). Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka. San Francisco, CA: VIZ Media LLC.
When one of the most beloved robots on earth, Mont Blan Urasawa, N, & Tezuka, O. (2009). Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka. San Francisco, CA: VIZ Media LLC.
When one of the most beloved robots on earth, Mont Blanc, is murdered under strange circumstances, a detective named Gesicht most solve the crime. He must also keep 6 more of the world's most powerful robots from meeting the same end as Mont Blanc. Based on a story arc from Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy series, Pluto is a bold re-imagining. It's grim and beautiful, filled with great, complicated characters (many of them robots). It also has a strong suspense, mystery element that keeps the reader guessing. The art is also deep and beautiful.
Similar titles (read-a-likes);
Watchmen by Alan Moore, Maxwell Strangewell by the Fillbach Brothers, and Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan...more