on April 11, 2010
I've been waiting for this book to come out since it was announced. Some background on my reading history: I love all of John Green's books and I love what I've read of David Levithan. So, naturally, I had high hopes for this awesome collision of genius.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson is the story of two guys named Will Grayson: they are not related, they have close to nothing in common, and neither, in fact, knows that the other one exists. That is, until their volatile meeting in the middle of this book. In a porn store. In life-crumbling circumstances.
As usual with these two authors, the characters are realistically crafted and easy to relate to. There were times throughout the story that I felt myself nodding in sympathy or feeling vindictive hatred for the unfortunately dead-on portrayal of selfishness and angst that's common in most high school teenagers. What I love about these characters is that they are decidedly fluid individuals who learn life lessons and cry and hope and dissect situations to ridiculous extremes and hold grudges and appreciate love and friendship. This is the kind of book that reminds you what a coming of age tale is supposed to be.
My favorite character was Tiny Cooper. If I had to choose my favorite Will Grayson, I would choose Tiny Cooper. He was just that awesome. Tiny is the very large, very gay, and very fabulous best friend of John Green's Will Grayson. He has received funding from the student council in order to put on a musical he wrote himself called Tiny Dancer--which is, of course, all about Tiny Cooper. He is the show stealer of the book.
On the opposite end of the character spectrum, I never felt much of a connection with Jane, the love interest of John Green's Will Grayson. This is probably because I've come to expect much of John Green's girls. I was infatuated with Alaska Young and Margo was a fantastic multi-dimensional character. I had the same sort of problem with Jane as I did with the heroine of An Abundance of Katherines--I just never fell in love with her.
As for Levithan, I'm still pondering why he chose to write his portion using no capitals. I like to think that it's because his Will Grayson is just too apathetic to care about using a shift key. Authors trying to be innovative with the stylizing their narrative is usually a hit or miss for me. In Levithan's case, the innovation wasn't so over the top that it became pretentious, which--and I'm not naming any names--tends to happen.
For what's it worth, I have absolutely no regrets for paying the twenty dollar price for this book. John Green and David Levithan are a witty powerhouse of a team and I hope that they decide to do more work together in the future. I recommend Will Grayson, Will Grayson to all fans of humorous, romantic, intelligent coming of age tales.
on April 9, 2011
My 15-year old son and I both enjoyed this double threaded teen self-realization story. The contrivance of two different Will Graysons is a mere decorative topping to two stories of teenage boys coming to terms with themselves, while both rotating around an outsized (personally and physically) friend named Tiny. One Will battles depression and comes to terms with his sexuality, the other Will his timidity and fear of feeling. Their alternating narration and narrative styles keep the story fresh, if not surprising, and their humor allows rich development of some serious themes. The book lost steam towards the end---the climax is not very climactic---but was intelligent and entertaining throughout. Both Tiny and one of the Wills are gay, and their sexuality is certainly very prominent in the book. And, while by no means does it make their life easy, I was struck by the ease with which the theme fit into the rest of the story. This is not the way such a story would have been told twenty years ago, or even ten, and, when I was a teenager 30+ years ago, I doubt it would have even been published. Very, very cool to see it now as just an important, integrated theme in the book. That was the highlight that will stay with me.
on March 31, 2011
This is going to be a difficult review to write! I've waited a couple days to think about the book, and I still can't come to a definite conclusion on where I want my review to go.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson was definitely a book that is unique and memorable. The different points of view is found in many other books, but the characters are truly the driving force of the novel. However, I felt like the Will Graysons were outshined by the one and only Tiny Cooper. The story seemed to be about him much more than about the Wills, and that was one aspect that I didn't enjoy.
I know one thing for sure: I enjoyed this novel. I give it 4/5 stars for a reason. I'm just having a hard time putting that reason into words. The characters were wonderful, and despite the fact that Tiny Cooper ran the show I still found myself falling in love with the Wills and some other minor characters. This book was also terribly addicting. It was one of those books where I read past my planned stopping point just because I couldn't put it down.
There is definitely a lesson to be learned from reading this book. Perhaps the reason my feelings are so conflicted is because it's a lesson that I am still learning for myself. This book is all about the importance of love (and not even romantic love at that), appreciation, and acceptance. It's a story about inner struggles. And so perhaps those of us who are fighting inner battles, such as myself, can really appreciate this book without understanding why. And maybe in a couple years I can go back and really comprehend the message. For now, I am not going to analyze it too much. This book, for me, was an interesting look at two (three?) teenagers who are on a journey to find a part of them that's missing.
Will Grayson has been Tiny Cooper's best friend since elementary school. Tiny is, according to Will, "the world's largest person who is really, really gay" and constantly falling in and out of love--and dragging Will with him everywhere. When his latest attempt to hook Will up with a girl fails, Will meets Will Grayson, another teen who is depressed and discouraged. Both Wills make an effort not to feel too much in life, but are changed after meeting, and continue to change as Tiny puts on his extravagant and fabulous autobiographical musical, "Tiny Dancer", culminating in an unforgettable and powerful night.
John Green and David Levithan have created a very unique, surprising, and downright hilarious novel. The book is told in alternating chapters, and it's very easy to distinguish which point of view each author is writing from. Their characters are so different, but at the same time the book is very cohesive and engaging. Green's Will is a lot like some of his previous characters: funny, self-deprecating, and a bit nerdy and self conscious, but he is a terrific friend and an honest person. Levithan's Will is a bit darker. He is lonely and depressed, and it's evident throughout most of the book that he is hurting and doesn't know how to be himself, or even be happy. Each Will possesses his own authentic voice, and the chapters flow seamless together, playing off each other well with Tiny as a good (albeit a little self-centered) central character.
The plot is complex, and the change in each Will may be gradual as each one sorts out their own myriad of problems and issues, but the journey is funny, rough, and best of all, smart (for example, Schrondinger's cat is used as an extended metaphor throughout much of the book). Will Grayson, Will Grayson is brilliant and intelligent read about love, appreciation, and feeling with an unflinching and bold style that many teens will appreciate.
Cover Comments: I really like this cover! It is very fitting that since there is a musical in the book there is a spotlight on the cover, and the perspective is different. The font is also pretty cool--I like how some of the letters of the title run into each other. This is just a really excellent cover!
on May 18, 2011
Before reading WG/WG, I had never read anything by John Green or David Levithan. A few friends of mine are fans of John Green's, so I decided to give this a try. I enjoyed Green's odd chapters much more than Levithan's even chapters.
PROS: The concept is intriguing. I was hooked from reading the back cover. I worried that two authors collaborating in such a way (alternating chapters and essentially creating separate books that collide in the middle) was too ambitious, but they pulled it off. It really works. John Green's character Tiny is larger-than-life (literally and figuratively). His Will Grayson is my favorite, because he's a normal kid who struggles with normal issues. He has a love interest, and his feelings are so real; even when he's contradicting himself, you know exactly what he's going through. The ending was good, if a bit cheesy. (OK, so it's a lot cheesy, actually. It's the kind of ending you'd expect during a season finale of "Glee.") Still, it's enjoyable.
CONS: Levithan's WG character is depressing and whiny and just a.w.f.u.l. It's just tedious and repetitive, and it was just too easy to put the book down when I finished an odd chapter. I had to make myself read the first 4 even chapters, but then finally (near the middle), it got interesting. I can see a lot of other readers putting the book down and never reaching the best part, which incidentally happens during the last 4 chapters.
On a side note, I read this book for book club. We chose it based on the item description. We were not aware it was an LGBT title until we started reading it. I wish this was part of the item description. YA covers a wide area, and there are some parents who might not want their younger teens reading this. (The language was pretty intense.) I wish there could be a rating system for YA books similar to movies, so parents can determine if a book is appropriate for their child or not.
Note: The voting buttons are for the review's helpfulness, not whether you agree or disagree with the reviewer's opinion. It's much more valuable to have well-written reviews that are both critical and high-rating than for everyone to rate the book the same.
on August 12, 2013
Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a charming, witty story, but I was a little disappointed after falling in love with all of John Green's other novels. The structure of the books is really well thought out, Green and Levithan alternate writing chapters, each being the voice of a different Will Grayson. One of the Will Graysons never uses capital letters in his writing, making it easy to determine which Will's voice you're reading.
Tiny Cooper's play, which is a major part of the story, was a bit cheesy to me. I love theater and musicals of all types, but I felt like the idea of Tiny's play was a little forced. It seemed more like the authors were trying to get a theme across rather than letting the plot guide them.
Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the book and am still a huge fan of John Green and David Levithan.
on October 28, 2014
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan is about two different people that have the same name, Will Grayson who eventually discover each other and it changes both of their lives forever because they find out what love really is. They figure out what love and friendship are and how they are important. The first Will Grayson whose name is always capitalized in the book was born in Chicago and doesn't really have any friends, but Tiny Cooper, who is not the world's gayest person and is not the world's largest person, but the world's largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world's gayest person who is really, really large. He lives by two rules which are 1. don't care too much 2. shut up. This Will Grayson is written by John Green and the second Will Grayson whose name is never capitalized correctly in the book is born in Naperville. He constantly wants to kill himself and everyone around him, he is depressed and struggles with his teenage life. will Grayson has a friend named Maura, Simon and Derek, who are from his mathletes team. Will met on an online group chat with this gay person named Isaac, falls in love and starts a long distance relationship. This will Grayson 2 is written by the other author, David Levithan. One day, will Grayson plans to meet up with his online boyfriend, Isaac in the movie store. He finds out that that person turns out to be his friend Maura. Eventually that night both Will Grayson's turn to discover each other which changed their lives forever because they never thought their life would change forever...Yes I liked the book because I thought it was a little bit different than the other books by having two authors write their own character and putting it together in book as a good story. I thought it was interesting how it gave lessons about how to deal with your rough teenage years and what love, honesty and how friendship could be important. No one recommended this book to me, I found it after reading the Fault in Our Stars, and I thought that maybe I would like John Green's other books. This was next to TFIOS and I decided to read it. I recommend this book to mainly highschoolers and young adults because of the language and it can be hard to understand unless you know how teenagers can be rough.
I don't know if I can properly express my love for this book. I'm a proud nerdfighter, so I've been looking forward to the day when John Green's new book would be coming out ever since I first heard about its existence. Upon reading it, I was kind of shocked. Sure, John Green's Will Grayson was a really great character...but David Levithan's will grayson, David Levithan, whose only other work I've read was a short story in Geektastic, made me want to jump into the book and give him a massive shower of hugs. And while John Green is responsible for the creation of Tiny Cooper, it's David Levithan's Tiny that really goes places. So anyways, one of the best things about these two authors is their authenticity. It's like they've grown up without having lost their teenage selves, and are fully able to capture those teenage emotions and write them into an emotionally moving story.
Give me another moment to fangirl over will grayson. I know many people have expressed an intense dislike of David's will's inability to use the shift key. But here's the thing: when depression strikes, it honestly feels like your universal shift key is missing, like nothing you can say deserves capitalization, or in a weird way, recognition and ownership. Your proper nouns are not important enough to be capitalized. So I found myself really relating to that lack of capitalization. Simply speaking, David Levithan broke my heart with will grayson, especially after bringing Tiny Cooper into will's story.
John's contribution to the story was okay, but I felt like it was the same John Green formula we've all seen already. Typical teenage guy, with his larger-than-life sidekick that takes him on a wild journey through the big wide wonderful world. The Love Interest, Jane, bored the heck out of me, and overall, though the writing was predictably spectacular, I was just disinterested in Will Grayson and his story.
I did not want this book to end. I felt like it incorporated every possible teenage high school problem that teens, real teens, have at some point had to deal with. I don't think it's possible to finish this book without wanting your own personal Tiny Cooper.
Anyone else desperately wishing for a soundtrack to this, with big, cheesy, over-the-top musical numbers? Youtube musical theater nerdfighters, get on that!
on December 30, 2014
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan is about 2 Will Grayson's and their life. I have to say I was not the craziest fan of this book under a third of the way in. The stories of both Will Grayson's separately didn't captivate me as when they actually meet. When they meet the story was amazing. I kept thinking about the book when I was not reading the book. Okay so Will Grayson 1, best friend's with Tiny and is known around school. Will Grayson 2, ex-boyfriend to Maura, and figuring out that he is gay. When their worlds collide it changes both of them for the better. They figure out what they want out of a relationship and learn to do something with said relationship. The reader keeps wondering how this story will go and what will happen to these two Will Grayson's. Funny and heartbreaking at times, David Levithan and John Green wrote an amazing book.
Some of my favorite quotes:
-That's the thing about Tiny: his problems are so huge that yours can hide behind them.
-If anyone ever uses lol with me, I rip my computer right out of the wall and smash it over the nearest head.
-You like someone who can't like you back because unrequited love can be survived in a way that once-requited love cannot.
-One of these days, I keep telling myself, you'll learn to truly shut up and not care.
-But I mean, why do you have to fix the salad? Who broke it? I didn't touch it. Did you break the salad, mom? If you did, YOU'D BETTER FIX IT!
-Being gay is not an excuse for being a dick.
-It's all about falling you land and get up so you can fall again it's all about falling I won't be afraid to hit the wall again.
on June 18, 2013
as a queer adult, i love reading LGBTQ YA literature because there was NOTHING like this when i was growing up, and it both heartens me and gives me ideas for book recommendations to teach the young people i mentor acceptance and empathy, as well as opening up worlds for the LGBTQ kids i work with. this book really, really missed the mark.
1) the fatphobia in this book is really disappointing- i am always disappointed when books about acceptance and love treat fat characters this way. tiny is the most beloved character in the book, yet the characters who 'love' him use dehumanizing slurs about his weight on every page, including his boyfriend.
2) the book touches on serious issues without delving deeper, which is confusing and frustrating- for instance, gary's internalized homophobia (telling more 'flamboyant' or flirty gay characters they aren't 'helping the cause'), or the APPALLING thing that maura did to will grayson 2- i felt this was just treated as a prank (with people urging will to TALK TO HER and apologize to her!!!!) rather than a really abusive, sociopathic action.
3) the ending was so abrupt and unrealistic, and if the authors had taken just 2-3 more pages to flesh it out, it could've been beautiful. after enduring being called 'fatty' and 'a whale' by his BOYFRIEND, tiny deserved a more thoughtful ending.
i've read several books by john green and by david levithan, and am almost always disappointed by the fact that they *almost* get it, but don't quite get it.