Tedious with thin characters. What should have been a fun adventure was filled with overwrought details about small aircraft piloting and maintenance....moreTedious with thin characters. What should have been a fun adventure was filled with overwrought details about small aircraft piloting and maintenance. (less)
One of the best graphic novels I've read in a long time. Great fun. Suspenseful. Intriguing. Well-paced. The story isn't spoon-fed to the reader, it u...moreOne of the best graphic novels I've read in a long time. Great fun. Suspenseful. Intriguing. Well-paced. The story isn't spoon-fed to the reader, it unfolds naturally. Really well done. I can't wait to read the next book. (less)
An overarching mystery ties together the events in a young girl's life as she discovers new friends and begins to see the Big World around her. This i...moreAn overarching mystery ties together the events in a young girl's life as she discovers new friends and begins to see the Big World around her. This is a charming book that is ultimately about finding kindness in yourself and others. Some of the final puzzle pieces may be a bit easy to figure out, but that doesn't lessen the emotional impact on arrival. For those of us who grew up in the 70s, there is a light touch of nostalgia here. (less)
**spoiler alert** If I had known more about Will Grayson, Will Grayson I probably wouldn't have picked it up. What I did know was that it had gotten g...more**spoiler alert** If I had known more about Will Grayson, Will Grayson I probably wouldn't have picked it up. What I did know was that it had gotten good reviews, people seemed to like it, it was about two boys with the same name who accidentally meet, and it had a shiny cover.
I figured maybe there was a science fiction element, or at least magical realism to the book, owing to the strange coincidence. And the shiny cover.
I was so wrong.
I think the shiny cover is owing to one of the books more colorful characters, the big gay Tiny Cooper. There's a lot of gay in this book, but this isn't really a book about being gay as much as it is a book about trying to find your way through the minefields of your own emotions when you're a brittle, mixed-up, angsty teenager and all you want to do is survive life without your heart exploding into a million glittering little shards.
The story is told by two Will Graysons in alternating chapters. The first Will Grayson is the straight friend of the aforementioned gay giant. Will lives by two rules: don't care and shut up. He's the opposite of his bold, live-out-loud pal, who says everything that he thinks and cares about everyone he meets. The second Will Grayson is a dark, depressed teen, living with his divorced mom and secretly carrying on an online love affair with another boy who he has never met. The two Wills and their respective worlds collide one night and no one escapes unchanged.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson is at turns hilarious, poignant, heart-breaking, cringe-inducing and just plain wondrous. Early in the book, the first Will Grayson's friend Jane wonders if it is possible for people to really have epiphanies, if one can actually have a sudden, life-changing insight. Later, they almost unknowingly experience such a moment together when Jane confronts Will and asks him to decide if she is his girlfriend or not.
She looks down for a second, and I notice her hair parted in the middle has an accidental zigzag at the top of her head, and I inhale to talk, but then she says, "Also I'm not going to be devastated or anything either way. I'm not that kind of person. I just think if you don't say the honest thing, sometimes the honest thing never becomes true, you know, and I--" she says, but then I hold up my finger, because I need to hear the thing she just said, and she talks too fast for me to keep up. I keep holding up my hand, thinking if you don't say the honest thing, it never becomes true.
Despite epiphanies such as these, the characters in this book don't all suddenly become perfect in the end. Far from it. If anything, they learn to look a little more honestly at their flaws, and to tolerate imperfections a bit more, in themselves and others. The book falters a bit in the final chapter, stretching believability where a grand gesture is required. And though Tiny Cooper is an undeniably well-drawn character, the truth is a little Tiny goes a long way and we've probably had our fill by the end.
No matter. What Will Grayson, Will Grayson shows us in the end is that you can love, you can lose, you can hurt and be crushed and feel pain in ways you never knew you could, but what you cannot do is remain silent. Honor what's real, whatever reality holds for you, and say the honest thing.
This book wasn't for me. I imagine someone reading this at just the right moment in their beginning writing career might find it useful but as for me...moreThis book wasn't for me. I imagine someone reading this at just the right moment in their beginning writing career might find it useful but as for me -- I'm glad I bought this on sale.
This book is repetitive and seriously lacking in practical advice. It browbeats the reader and provides very little in the way of solutions. I find this type of "tough-love" approach overrated. It's much easier to yell at someone for 70 pages than to offer anything of value.
There are so many better books out there which offer real solutions and that respect the writer's struggle, I don't know why anyone should be bothered with this one. (less)
I can’t believe I’ve been reading this book for over a year, but I have. This is the problem — once I start a book I feel obligated to finish it. It’s...moreI can’t believe I’ve been reading this book for over a year, but I have. This is the problem — once I start a book I feel obligated to finish it. It’s a silly thing to do, and The Lightning Thief is my punishment.
The Lightning Thief sits firmly in Harry Potter’s shadow, never daring to be as good, and constantly reminds you what a truly gifted writer J.K. Rowling really is.
The Lightning Thief is about a boy who discovers he’s the son of a Greek god. All of Greek mythology, it turns out, is true, and the gods and demigods are alive and well and living in the modern world. The Gods are still their same old petty, bickering, jealous selves, and the book’s protagonist, young Percy Jackson, is accused of stealing Zeus’s lightning bolt. He embarks on a quest to recover it and prevent the gods from going to war.
It could all be great fun, but Riordan is not a nimble writer. His prose is clear and Percy’s 1st-person narration has a strong and consistent voice, but the kid’s smart-alecky attitude becomes grating after a few chapters and is nearly unbearable by book’s end. He’s supposed to be a modern teenager, I get it, but he comes off as a jerk you wouldn’t want to spend an hour with, let alone the length of a book. The child hero’s lack of humility and vulnerability make him especially unappealing.
Worse, Riordan fails to weave the rich world of Greek mythology convincingly into our own. Comparisons with Harry Potter are unavoidable. Where Rowling managed to seamlessly integrate the magic world with the mundane, enriching both, Riordan just sort of smashes the two together, usually tucking the Greek world away in some out-of-the-way shop. There’s no sense here that it’s really part of the bigger picture. The Greek world feels quite small and unimportant.
Where Riordan really falls flat is the story structure itself. Nearly every chapter is a self-contained episode, especially once the quest is under way. Go to a shop, diner, or casino, get attacked by a random monster, make your escape, end of chapter. Repeat over and over again. Rather than add to the depth of the world, minor characters must float in and out of the story quickly, as they are only there to service a small episode. Tension never builds because actions rarely have an effect beyond the next few pages. We never feel engaged because our heroes are always safe by the end of the chapter.
The book ends with a pair of draggy chapters that can’t quite get to the point. The “off-screen” resolution of Percy’s mother’s dilemma is especially unsatisfying.
Overall, The Lightning Thief fails to live up to it’s potential. Middle School kids will probably like it well enough, but they deserve better. (less)