Gemma's Reviews > Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
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Mar 11, 12

Read in March, 2012

Hm... After such a lovely first novel as Anna and the French Kiss, it's hard to go into Lola and the Boy Next Door with low expectations. It's also hard not to want to like it out of love for its predecessor.

So overall, I guess I was fairly biased going into this one.

In some respects, Perkins improved as an author. The story was... more tightly wound, I guess, and the main character (Lola, in case you hadn't read the title) had some growing up to do that, of course, we get to watch as we read.

Cricket, name aside, was also an improvement over St. Clair of Anna and the French Kiss. That's not to say that I liked him better (because quite frankly, St. Clair is the king of YA boys and Cricket barely makes it to duke), but he was a lot more realistic. St. Clair was all but flawless: smart, hilarious, kind, hot, had an accent, sensitive... I don't think I'll ever meet a guy like him. But Cricket was more solid. He was kinda awkward and super smart, but not terribly funny. He was shy and nice and dressed interestingly and... was very different from St. Clair.

So, points for not recreating the same hot lead in a different book. Because that really annoys me. This shows that Perkins has skill as an author.

However, it wasn't all progress; there was definitely some digression along the way. Starting with Title Girl.

One of Anna and the French Kiss's greatest charms was Anna. Sure, St. Clair was absolutely amazing, but Anna wasn't just some plain, boring girl who hardly deserved him. She was funny and smart and normal and practical and I loved her almost as much as I loved him. It's not every day you encounter a heroine that... genuine/likable/relatable/intelligent.

Lola was no Anna. She was a lot less mature, and tended to be a lot more annoying. One of the annoying things is the constant description of her clothing. She's always very chic (though misunderstood by the wealthy, close-minded mean girls at her school, of course) dressing in little dresses and cool shoes and funny hair. You're supposed to read that and find it cool, like, wow, our character can dress, but it comes off as gimmicky and kinda annoying. And Lola's kinda cocky about it; to her, the fact that she looks good is a given, and that doesn't always make for a nice little narrator-reader bond.

She was also a liar, and as bad as the female in a YA paranormal romance love triangle when it came to leading on guys. She has a boyfriend, Max, who is "the one", no matter what her friends, dads or anyone else has to say about it. She is in love with him, uncontrollably, irrevocably so, until her old crush moves back into the house next door.

That's Cricket, of course, and he confesses early on that he's always liked her, always wanted to be with her. And this gets her all twitterpaited despite hot rocker boyfriend Max.

Cricket or Max? She wants them both. So she tries to "befriend" Cricket (excuses to touch him and get him into her bedroom) while still dating Max, without ever mentioning Cricket to him.

It was terribly shifty behavior. Annoying to the reader, but Lola never realized it was wrong until things started going wrong.

I dunno. Eventually, there's a need for Lola to hook up with Cricket, because, well, it's obvious from the title that they're going to be a couple by the end of the story. So Perkins has to get rid of Max so Lola won't look like a jerk for dumping him to be with Cricket. So their breakup is justified. So Max goes from amazing boyfriend to complete jerk in a matter of pages.

It's ridiculous and unbelievable. If he was really the amazing guy Lola had previously described him to be, he wouldn't be acting the way he did. It feels painfully contrived, so obvious that Perkins is just trying to write him off and move on with the story.

I didn't like that part of it. I also didn't feel that Lola deserved either Cricket or Max, so I kinda had a problem with that.

I also wasn't feeling a lot of the side characters. In Anna and the French Kiss, everyone was cool or interesting, and in Lola and the Boy Next Door, everyone wants to be cool or interesting, but... they don't really make it that far. The best examples of this are Andy and Nathan, Lola's parents. They're gay, they alternate between overbearing and incredibly lax, and one of them bakes for a living. And that's it. Oh, wait, one of them's a lawyer. But they weren't believable. They were just sketches, not real people, just there to provide the necessary amount of parental authority and occassionally up the angst factor. And that's it.

I dunno. They could have been a lot cooler, a lot more realistic.

Also, not to offend, but they're not doing a very good job parenting a teenage girl. There were at least four occassionas where they needed to severely punish Lola (example: when she dresses like a slut, runs out of the house and into her boyfriend's van against their permission) but she gets off with only a mild lecture.

Personally, I wanted her to get punished. Grounded. Talked down to. Spanked, even, but that would never get past the publishers. Sadly, she was just one of those characters that you just wanted to see get in trouble.

If Lola had been Anna, I think I would have enjoyed this book more. Anna and St. Clair did make several appearances, but they weren't as likable when we're not reading about them, and honestly, they were a bit too cutesy for my liking.

Still, Perkins has a gift for writing chick-flick-esque novels and I did enjoy this one, for the most part. I'll still look into more of her works, and will probably love them so long as her narrator is not as obnoxious as Lola.
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