85 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 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.
33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
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!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
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.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
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!
55 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2010
I've never solved a John Green website riddle, but I'm fan enough to call myself a Nerdfighter and confident enough in my masculinity to read David Levithan in broad daylight. I'm 1,231 of the 30 million viewers of John and Hank's Brotherhood 2.0, I've blogged pictures of myself "putting stuff on my head," and I've enjoyed and even studied Green's first three novels, so it is with esteemed privilege that I review their latest collaborative effort, WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON.
Will Grayson's friends may say he's incapable of emotion, but it's not true. He's just obeying his two life rules: 1. Don't care too much, and 2. Shut up. You can't get hurt if you don't really care, and so far, life in the shadow of a ginormous, six-six offensive lineman best friend has kept him safe enough.
Will's best friend, Tiny Cooper, "is not the world's gayest person, and he is not the world's largest person, but he may be the world's largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world's gayest person who is really, really large." Football player, loyal fan of lesser-known-but-awesomer-than-thou bands, producer of musicals, and matchmaker extraordinaire, Tiny is fabulous.
The other Will Grayson (o.w.g.) wants the world to die in a flaming bus crash. He's not Facebook friends with suicide yet, but they've met in chat rooms and IM'd a couple of times. If you ask him, he won't tell you, but he's found "the one" and can't wait for the day they finally meet. Without Isaac--screenname: boundbydad--o.w.g. wouldn't have any reason to survive each school day, or slave away at the music store, or put up with his mother and absentee father, or et cetera.
So when . . .
. . . Tiny helps Will buy a fake ID and Will's new crush-not-crush Jane joins them at the best underground concert ever, Will learns his ID's no good and has to spend the evening wishing. Wishing he'd double-checked his ID. Wishing he was inside with Jane. And wishing the planet of his life didn't revolve around the flaming star called Tiny.
. . . while on the same night . . .
. . .o.w.g. secretly takes a train across the city to meet Isaac. Hoping to actually meet him. Hoping this boy is the answer his life's been dying for. Hoping to hold hands and be together for the first time. Hoping to be normal, in person "because Isaac has become the one the songs are about."
. . .Will Grayson meets Will Grayson.
Their chance meeting and conversation shows them that there's nothing wrong with being in love--that what sucks about love is that it's so tied to truth--and that if you keep focusing on why you have it so bad, you'll never realize how you could have it so good.
Nothing (aside from aliens abducting my eyes for intergalactic experiments) was going to keep me from reading WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON. John Green (author of Printz-award-winning Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns) and David Levithan (co-author of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist) have delivered the fourth cornerstone of young adult literature. While some teen readers might be turned off by rumors that the book has too much "gay stuff" in it, the smart ones will ignore the rumors and take my word for it--hilarious, touching, thought-provoking, and worth it--this is one story you won't forget.
Andbutnor will you want to.
--- Reviewed by Jonathan Stephens
--- First published by [...]
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2010
Will Grayson has two simple rules: Don't care too much and shut up. Which is easy to remember, when his best friend Tiny Cooper is constantly breaking these rules. Tiny Cooper also seems to fall in love once an hour and never stops talking. Will just seems to follow the motions of life. He just seems to follow Tiny's wake, which includes being the only straight guy in the school's Gay Straight Alliance. The other will grayson(Refered to WG for the rest of the review) hates his friends and is shut off from everyone, but his Internet boyfriend, Issac. Then one winter night, WG decides to go to Chicago to meet Issac. That same night, Will Grayson and Tiny Cooper are there for a music show. The Will Graysons meet at one random street corner and their worlds quickly intertwine as they get ready for romance and the history's most awesome musical ever made.
Will Grayson was like every other John Green character. He is a bit nerdy, yet average. Suddenly he catches attention of some gorgeous girl that he didn't know until recently. I am not saying that the character is bad, but it is rather redundant. I still found his perspective to be interesting. I love Tiny Cooper. Seriously, I wish he was my best friend. I also loved Jane. She had a lot of style and was fun. WG was depressing at times, but I think that was just teenage angst. I found the characters to all be very funny and I laughed a lot during the book. The plot was slow at times, but I felt that it gradually built up. The musical was amazing and it needs to happen in real life. Other then the fact that John Green's characters were similar, I didn't find that much unoriginality. John Green is a skilled writer. His style was rather normal, while David Levithan's style had no capitalization or structure. I liked how the style bounced off of one another and created such a great story. I found Will Grayson, Will Grayson to be a funny story about growing up and finding who you are. I think you would enjoy this book, if you liked any of John Green or David Levithan's past book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
When I heard that John Green and David Levithan, arguably two of the most defined voices in today's young adult literature generation, were teaming up to write a novel, I knew the product would be memorable, but I surely wasn't ready for the story they were presenting.
WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRASYON is ostensibly about love and friendship. It's about accepting what you're given and breaking those boundaries you set up to keep others out. It's about following your heart and letting yourself fall, without fearing the landing.
The book was written in an interesting way. About two characters named Will Grayson (one straight, one gay), their stories are told separately in alternating chapters until, by miracle or fate, they finally meet.
Will Grayon #1 (numbers for ease of understanding in this review), written by Green, has two simple rules: 1. Don't' care too much, 2. Shut up. These rules have seemingly gotten him through life unscarred. He doesn't accept girlfriends, in fear of hurt and blends in behind his best friend. Will Grayson #2, written by Levithan, is in a perpetual state of depression, due in part to his family's situation (his father left, and his mother can barely afford dinner, causing him to pick up a weekend job), and in part to his blossoming sexuality (wherein, he learns that he prefers guys by becoming friends with one online).
In the center lies Tiny Cooper (who I love and want to be friends with), WG1's best friend, who, as Green puts it, isn't the world's gayest person, nor the world's largest person, but surely the world's gayest large person, or largest gay person. Through raw determination, passion, and, yes, song and dance sometimes, he helps both Graysons realize who they are, and what, ultimately, they need to overcome.
During one cold night in the midst of Chicago, the two teenage Graysons meet, unplanned and unpredicted. Through this chance crossing of paths, they find themselves watching their lives go in new and unexpected directions, all culminating with ultimate realizations and the history's most fabulous musical ever.
Both Green and Levithan do an incredibly job at giving their respective Will Grayson a voice. Observant and an over-thinker, Green's Grayson is the confused high school student just trying to get by unseen. Similarly, Levithan's Grayson is also trying to get by unnoticed, but as he does this, he creates this inner monologue devoid of happiness in order to illustrate his feelings. Both liars in their own sense, both refuse to listen to what they want and, ultimately, need. Both characters are extremely likable, regardless of their flaws and times you want to slap sense into them, - to the point of wanting them as friends of your own. They feel real and, in a way, raw.
In the heart of the story is acceptance. As Tiny plans his ultimate high school musical, he lets both characters in on a little secret: you're only as insecure as you let on. The book shows that it's okay to be gay, or fat, or ugly, or a dork. It's okay to be who you are, because people will eventually like you for it, or regardless of it. And it's this powerful message that shines through far after the last page is turned. Through Tiny, readers see that everything will be okay.
Gripping, powerful, and overwhelmingly heartfelt, WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON shows the reader that it's okay to be who you are, even if that person is incredibly large, incredibly gay, and always full of song.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2010
have you ever tried to tell a story with someone else? it's no easy task. and even though i am a huge fan of john green (an abundance of katherines, looking for alaska, paper towns) and i really enjoyed david levithan's boy meets boy, and even though i was really looking forward to reading will grayson, will grayson, i also braced myself for disappointment (especially since i splurged and bought it hardcover).
it turns out there was no need: this is another great book by each/both of these authors. they gave an interview that talked a bit about their writing and revision process: each author wrote about one of the wills. (if you've read either of their works before, it's pretty clear who wrote which one. in a good way.)
as someone with a common name, i have met 7,348 other lisas so far (one of the reasons i named my first born something less-well-known, i.e. almost unpronounceable ), but it would be strange indeed to meet someone with the exact same name. the two will graysons, who live in different suburbs of chicago, meet by accident.
the will grayson we meet first is considering his friendship with tiny cooper (`not the world's gayest person, and he is not the world's largest person, but i believe he may be the world's largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world's gayest person who is really, really large.') he and tiny have been best friends since 5th grade and have pretty much taken care of each other. lately, tiny has been falling in and out of love at an alarming (to will) rate-and each time, will gets put on the back burner. will, who considers himself `practical' when it comes to feelings (he has `not cried since my seventh birthday ... i don't really understand the point of crying.') follows two rules.
`1. don't care too much. 2. shut up.'
tiny cares a lot and talks a lot. he's even writing a musical for the high school to preform called tiny dancer.
meanwhile in a suburb far, far away, is another will grayson. this will lives with his mother, has a frenemy named maura, and a cyberboyfriend named isaac. (maura is a kind of a wretch, and it seems as though an author who would come up with a screen name for isaac called `boundbymydad' in reference to the sacrifice, would know the name maura means bitter and i found that intentionality bit much.) other than that, he's a loner. he meets tiny through the other will grayson (o.w.g.) and tiny brings his warm world of love into will's life.
there are many themes in this book-love, friendship, tolerance, emotional risk-taking. it also touches on technology-there is a lot of texting/im-ing, and identity plays a large role. the characters are well-rounded, compassionate, and complicated. the adults are treated kindly (the parents are not jerks just because they are parents). i am not sure how likely it is that someone like tiny would be so accepted in high school these days, but it's been a long time since i graduated, and it would be nice to think some of those horrible things have changed. the one thing i have any issue with has to do with one of the will's depression. there are references to medication and depression, but that theme is never really followed and as an adult reader, it was hard to see that this will grayson's mental health stuff was any worse than any other teenangster...it might have been helpful/more insight-providing to have just a wee bit more on that.
and for those wondering what oddball trait john green's character may have, that's a bit of a disappointment-no anagrams, no famous last words. the character is amusing and introspective and often tongue-tied-i was looking for his quirk.
i really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it for older ya readers and adults. there is no violence (well, maybe a punch thrown) and no graphic sex. there are references to drugs and alcohol, fake ids, ditching school.
© 2010, lisa port white. All rights reserved.