Mark's Reviews > Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green
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Dec 04, 13

bookshelves: young-adult, romance
Read in December, 2009

I was going back between 2 and 3 stars all night. Am I really going to give a book written partially by John Green, my secret man crush, 2 stars? But alas, I think it needed to happen. Will Grayson x2 missed the mark for me in many ways. Let's discuss together.

Will Grayson x2 (I'm not gonna write it twice every time, just work with me) is about two kids named...you know... and although they have never met, their paths cross and ultimately have their lives changed. The book alternates each character's POV, one being written by John Green and the other by David Levithan. Spoooooiler Alert!

I think one of my biggest disappointments, which might be my own fault for having unrealistic expectations, is that I expected a much more dramatic change in the lives of these two teens. After they meet, Levithan's Will certainly has a change, simply because he meets Tiny. But for the other Will, I felt I was left scratching my head on how he was really affected. I know things got rough with Tiny, but I feel that was going to happen with Tiny's play happening anyway.

John Green's Will Grayson, which I will simply call Will for this review, is classic Green. He is nerdy and hilarious, giving me several moments of actual out-loud laughter. And also like classic Green, he falls for the first female character introduced, despite the fact they do not share any notion of chemistry or attraction. What made Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns so great was the mystery behind it all. The deep psychological and emotional questions needed to be answered. Will and Jane's romance just felt....dull. The whole dead cat in the box thing was a nice try, but in the end their romance just felt set up and obvious.

Levithan's Will Grayson, which we'll call Grayson, is a very different beast than Will. This is the second book I've read by Levithan, the other being Nick and Norah. Both these left me with this uneasy feeling in my stomach and it took me awhile to figure it out, but I think I got it. Levithan is a great YA author because his characters are brutally authentic, which is very impressive. When you read his words, there is never a second where you would debate whether a moody teen wrote this. But that authenticity is a double-edged sword, especially when you are not a moody teenage reader. I hated Grayson the first few chapters just because he was such a asshole teenager. I totally remember being like that! I don't want to relive it. While Green expresses those frustrating teen times under the shroud of humor, Leviathan is just too hardcore for me. It's all bitching all the time. Grayson lightens up after awhile, but he just left a bad taste in my mouth.

If I had to sum it up, reading Levithan (for me personally!!) is like reading a vivid depiction of a car wreck that's so well done it makes you imagine what it would be like to be in one. It's downright impressive, but why would you want to relive that?

Aside from my beefs with the characters, they are both ultimately decent enough and would have earned this book more than two stars. The big problem I had with this book can be narrowed down to one word: Tiny. Oh Tiny, Tiny, Tiny. You destroyed this book for me.

While the book is titled Will Grayson x2, it should have been "Let's All Have A Lovefest for Tiny." He is the central character in the book and, for the life of me, I cannot understand why everybody loves this guy. He is completely self-centered and egotistical, time and time again putting his needs instead of Will's, and Will just takes it, gets pissed off about it for a bit, but then just goes crawling back and loves it. Tiny's romance with Grayson just didn't make sense as well. Would an overly outgoing theater performer fall for a dark moody goth kid in one night?

Tiny's environment, especially for a book that was so full of realistic teen drama, seemed like a fairy tale. When Grayson comes out of the closet and announces he's gay, he is met with the few typical close minded reactions where people stare at him in the hallways, leave him nasty notes in his locker, etc. It's a shame, but I'm sure that is really what gay teens have to go through when coming out. Tiny somehow is able to transcend this level of homophobia, prances through the hallways singing and dancing, and even goes as far as to putting on an entire play about his own lifestyle(I know he said the play is about love, but its not. Sorry) and the entire school loves him for it? How did that happen? Where is this high school full of tolerance?

The ending was especially disappointing where our two Will Graysons and everybody named remotely something similar meet up at the Tiny crossroads, only to feel the need to loudly proclaim that they "appreciate you, Tiny Cooper!" as the entire crowd sobs in an overly emotional manner having their minds exploded over the masterpiece that his play, "Tiny Dancer," is. Really? Watching 3 hours of a gay teen circumvent any backlash for his sexuality and ponder why he is such a man-whore who dated 18 boys in a few years was that impressive?

I think this is a book that will certainly be enjoyed by actual teens rather than adults who are fans of the YA genre, for the most part. The copy I have is an advanced reader's edition, so it isn't actually out yet. I'm very curious to see how well this book sells since alot of it is centered around...gayness, not that there is anything wrong with that. But as a teacher who has worked in high schools and middle schools, its a sad fact that I see alot of kids still think being gay is something weird and synonymous with lame. On top of that, so many are reluctant readers that struggle just to sit and read, regardless of how interesting the book is. I can't imagine trying to convince my kids to read a book about one kid with a gay best friend and another pursuing a gay relationship and getting a warm reception. Hopefully I'm wrong and this book isn't hampered by that, but its just food for thought.

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Comments (showing 1-45 of 45) (45 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

"While the book is titled Will Grayson x2, it should have been Let's All Have A Lovefest for Tiny."

Haha. Well there is certainly quite a bit of truth in that. Great review, thanks.


Anna I love your review! I haven't read this yet but I totally know where you are coming from on this.


message 3: by Bill (last edited Feb 13, 2012 02:24PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bill Fantastic review, although I have to disagree with you on Tiny. I didn't see him as self-centered as much as hungry for love. And I think those are different things. I thought the whole thing with his play was fabulous, and I saw his accepting of this need to be loved as not egotistical, but somehow humble. An acceptance of his own humanity.

Still, I love your writing and I'll be looking for more of your reviews!


message 4: by Shaya (new)

Shaya I only read part of your review because I didn't want it to be ruined if I decide to read it (I prefer not to know too much beforehand). But could you tell me, does this break out of John Green's mold of nerd boy goes after unreachable girl?


message 5: by Holly (new)

Holly Your review is full of spoilers - you should mark it as such. I read enough of them that I probably won't pick up the book now.


message 6: by Ashlee (new)

Ashlee Your review is spot-on. So many things about Tiny just seemed poorly contrived. At first, I thought he was a variation on the popular "manic pixie dream girl" type of character, and that Tiny would eventually reveal his perpetually hyper, unrealistic, flamboyant, loud self to be just one facet of a deeper, more multifaceted, more human personality. But no. Although Tiny does eventually get some depth, he's more of a puddle than a lake (or a kiddie pool). In a novel that tried to be mostly realistic, Tiny was a character that was totally unrealistic... and as you pointed out, the book was mostly about him. That's a major problem.

John Green on "Manic Pixie Dream Girls":
http://www.sparksflyup.com/2008/10/on...


message 7: by Mk (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mk Rath Nice, well-thought review, but there's a few small points that irked me:

"felt set up and obvious." It felt set up because they WERE set up. By Tiny.

"Would an overly outgoing theater performer fall for a dark moody goth kid in one night?" Did you miss the part where Will#1 said Tiny falls in love every hour on the hour? Tiny/Will2 were supposed to not make sense together, because, as Will2 pointed out, it wasn't about his loving him, it was about saving him, in his big gay Tiny way.

The tolerant high-school bit. Tiny's gayness is accepted by his school largely because Tiny is a FORCE. He's the best player on the school's football team and he's just generally forced himself into the lfe of the school, whereas Will2 is a moody goth kid that no one at his school likes anyway, so of course he's treated like crap about it.

That's all :) otherwise, even though I disagree I think your review is pretty solid.


Katie M. Holly wrote: "Your review is full of spoilers - you should mark it as such. I read enough of them that I probably won't pick up the book now."
Despite the fact that he didn't mark is as a spoiler, he did indeed type "spoiler alert" before any actual spoilers occurred. Kinda going to have to say that this one was your own fault.


message 9: by Holly (last edited May 23, 2010 07:14AM) (new)

Holly Katie M, lol, thanks for pointing that out. I wasn't reading every word so I missed it. Maybe also because of all the extra o's in Spoiler. Maybe Mark could put it in all caps or at the beginning of the spoiler paragraphs instead of the end of the non-spoilery ones? Then it might actually stand out.


Becky Ginther Good review, you nailed a lot of the things that I thought about this book. Overall it the Wills seemed really realistic and so close to real life, whereas Tiny could have been but was just too over the top.


Megan I agree with your review wholeheartedly. I really struggled getting into these characters. I felt this book was just trying to hard.


message 12: by Antonia (new) - added it

Antonia Fondaras I entirely agree with your review. I realize that Will Grayson 1 declaration of "love" to Tiny was supposed to read as the expression of his evolution into a human being capable of real feeling. What it does read like in fact is his grovelling to this extraordinarily self-centered "friend" who disrespects him in front of virtually the whole school community (in the play) and dosn't even treat his declaration of deep friendship with respect. It felt all the more wrong because the compensatory relationship with Jane had, as you suggest, a very superficial feel. This culminates in the brief passage where WG1 dismisses his own self as a "sentimentalist". Great review, thank you.


message 13: by M (new) - rated it 4 stars

M I really enjoyed your review. While I was reading WG, WG I had a lot of the same thoughts - Tiny is rather unlikable in many ways, WG #1 doesn't have much to identify him and Jane is rather plain etc ... somehow though once I finished, I was so utterly captivated that I kind of forgot all of that. One thing I would say in the book's defense is that (spoiler alert) when the Isaac thing blows up, I gotta tell you - I totally felt that. I felt betrayed, confused, lost, angry - I so got what it meant to have Isaac and then the way it was taken away really moved me. I can't remember the last time I resonated so much with a plot twist. Also, by the end of the off Broadway production, I must say, I was appreciating Tiny, too. I guess when a book hits an emotional spot/is entertaining and enjoyable to get through, I find myself more forgiving than usual ...


message 14: by P.E. (new) - rated it 3 stars

P.E. I totally agree with you. Great review!


message 15: by Katy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Katy Vance I recommend Leviathan's Boy meets Boy for you, based on this review. Honestly. I hear everything you said about this book (as a matter of perspective I disagree, but that is the beauty of books and Goodreads that we get to read and discuss and agree and disagree) and I think that you would really like Boy Meets Boy. : o)


Larry Buhl Yep, yep, yep. The book has a huge Tiny problem. But based on his characterization of WG2, I would read another book by Leviathan.


message 17: by V.E. (new) - rated it 3 stars

V.E. I completely agree. Tiny was the central character in this book. And he wasn't a really good one.


message 18: by Will (new) - rated it 3 stars

Will Hartis This is the best review I read about this book and after finishing it, I couldn't agree more. I could not STAND Tiny, but I did start to develop an acceptance of the moody Will. This was more likely due to the fact he underwent more of a "change of character" than the other Will did. The other Will just seemed boring to me, and honestly I didn't approve of Jane. I wish they could have threw in some other girl for him to fall in love with.


Chuckr "If I had to sum it up, reading Levithan (for me personally!!) is like reading a vivid depiction of a car wreck that's so well done it makes you imagine what it would be like to be in one. It's downright impressive, but why would you want to relive that?" PERFECT description.


Charlotte I completely agree with this review. It was all about Tiny and Grayson, whereas nothing really happened with Will.

He just seemed to be there so the book could have two Will Graysons... I mean, I can not mark anything of what happened to Will after we meet Grayson...

This is a fantastic review and I look forward to seeing more from you.


message 21: by Jenny (new)

Jenny Schoenbauer I just wanted to say John Green's Will Grayson was the gay one and David Levithan's Will Grayson was the nerdy one:)


Cassandra DeFalco I completely agree.


Michelle "Tiny Cooper, Tiny Cooper"


message 24: by Alex (new) - rated it 2 stars

Alex Rich I'm so glad someone else didn't like Tiny. He ruined the story for me...


message 25: by Nix (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nix Hamilton Totally wish that I'd written this review. It's completely spot-on in highlighting the flaws of this novel. You should charge authors for your critiques! They'd be crazy not to listen to your feedback.


Heather Everything you say completely describes my feelings on this book.


message 27: by Eve (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eve Definitely agree with you re: leviathan's will Grayson. Discomforting to read but more realistic.


Megan Gerheart Yes! Your review is spot on. You perfectly expressed everything I felt about this book! Well said!


message 29: by Cait (new) - rated it 2 stars

Cait I am so bad at writing reviews, so I'm glad someone else knew how to say everything I felt so well!


Jessica I agree with the struggle of giving a John Green book 2 stars. I did the same thing, and I had the same issue, since he's my favorite author and I love him so much. ://


Renata Barcelos It's so amazing when someone writes down just everytging you felt about a book! Thanks for this review, I couldn't have write it better.


Isobel This review just completely summarises what I feel about this book.


message 33: by Alex (new) - rated it 3 stars

Alex Stargazer I generally agree with this. I personally found Tiny mildly irritating at times, though not egotistical; however, I found Straight Grayson very annoying.

I also felt the book didn't give resolution--a love-fest for Tiny, as you say--and also, I got the impression that the authors were trying to sound clever with all their little metaphors and so-called "insights" into human nature, but failed.


Colleen Thanks for pointing out that the characters were written by the two different authors...
It makes sense then that I liked one Will Grayson and loathed the other...
(I liked Evanston, straight Will Grayson, even though I thought he was a self-righteous prick. I groaned when it was Naperville Will Grayson's turn to tell the story. His inconsistency and obsessive-compulsive boring "I'm so unique and the only one who feels sad" tasted like pickle juice and ear wax.
I enjoyed the humor in the book, but the book was little about the wills, and more about how a fat giant gay football player can be rich, talented, sweet, have mysterious blue eyes, egotistical, selfless kind, rude, -- essentially everything you love, hate, and want for yourself, but still be haunted... Or but then he also gets to be the troubled hero...

It sounds like I hated it, but I actually dug it.


Alice Gray Thank you sooooo very much for this. This is exactly what I thought about this and completely agree with you about Tiny. I HATE HIM. This is the best review for this book. I still like the book but not as much as I like John Green's other books.


Jessica Abernethy I didn't know how to express my feelings about this book; however, you put it better than I ever could. You hit the nail right on the head. :)


Brittney I only read half of you're comment and let me just say. I love the way you talked about the book because I felt the exact same way about the hole book. The cat in the box made no fucking sense to me. The book was basically about Tiny so why did they name it will Grayson. I thought the ending would be better. I loved Gay Grayson so damn much!


message 38: by Leah (new) - rated it 5 stars

Leah J. I agree - I think Tiny falling in love with Grayson so fast did seen to be a bit of a stretch. I think if we had been able to see Tiny's other failed relationships, and how he relates to people are vastly different from him, it would have been more believable. However, I think we do kind of see that when it comes to Tiny's friendship with Will, who is opposite in personality.

I also think Tiny is a great character because of his flaws. Yes, he's flawed, but he admits it. He's very well fleshed out because of his interaction with the two Wills. He may think that his problems are larger than other's problems, but that's his flaw. I think that what helps this book is that we don't love the characters, and neither do we have to, to appreciate them.


message 39: by Emma (new) - rated it 3 stars

Emma I totally and completely agree. I'm not a homophobe or anything, and I think anyone should be with whoever they want, I just didn't expect this book to be the Tiny show.


Sparrowlicious Actually, I think Tiny is the only redeemable character in this book. Because he's not as bland as everyone else, even if he lives up to a certain cringeworthy stereotype.


Aileen These were exactly my thoughts after reading the book, thank you


Taylor Perfect review is perfect.


message 43: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy While this is a well written review, I respectfully disagree. While I am sure I would have a hard time being friends with someone like Tiny, I think he plays an interesting role. Through Tiny, both Will Graysons learn that their experiences and pain are about more than just themselves. Not every book has to have deep and mysterious relationships to be good. For once it was nice to see the simplicity of Will and Jane's relationship. Besides, I think the main point of the book wasn't Will and Jane's, but Will and Will and Tiny and friendship. I like how Will goes off on Tiny in the dugout about how not all love is sexual. It is nice to read a young adult novel that is not all about sex. So, to sum up, I see many of the points you made about the book, but have to respectfully disagree. Even with some annoying characters, I found I enjoyed the book. As for the ending, I'm ok with using my imagination and taking it from where the book left off.


message 44: by Dannee (new)

Dannee Hernandez Yeah, the book being titled WG WG really bothered me right after I finished the book that, like you said, is almost entirely about Tiny and his not-so-tiny role. I just think their collab hasn't worked so well compared ro their individual greatness. I've read couple of DL's already before this so I know how well he is and how he lost it here. On the other hand, this is my first JG read so I wasn't so much of disappointed since I haven't had a taste of his writing before which made my experience in reading Looking for Alaska a real WOOOOOW! Far from my experience with these Wills :) Perhaps not every "two" is better than one because they, for me, are better off alone in their own novels. :)


Chimney I just finished reading "Will Grayson, Will Grayson" myself and this review aligns very well with most of my overall feelings. I think one of the biggest problems with this novel, for me, was how much Tiny seemed to outshine both of the Will Graysons making them almost like secondary characters - shadows to his overly bright light.


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