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Home » Books & writing

Book Review: WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON

Submitted by on April 7, 2010 – 9:53 pm7 Comments

Since this is a YA novel, I thought my contributing writer, Aline Dolinh, 12, who reads at a 30-year-old’s level, would be a better reviewer than I.—PCN

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Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan is an enjoyable read. The story is told from the perspectives of two teens coincidentally named Will Grayson, alternating every chapter.

The first Will seems more or less normal; he goes through life abiding by two rules: 1) Don’t care too much and 2) Shut up. He has an overly theatrical, large, gay friend named Tiny Cooper, who seems to be Will’s polar opposite despite being his best friend out of the few he has. In fact, much of the book is focused on Tiny and how both Wills feel and are affected by his actions.

The other Will Grayson is a somewhat troubled and clinically depressed guy who seems less than amiable at times. His first sentence is “I am constantly torn between killing myself and killing everyone around me,” which gives you a sense of what he’s like. His narration is distinguished from the other Will in that nothing is capitalized and all dialogue is in script form. The lack of capitalization is probably supposed to convey his indifference about the world, but sometimes it comes off like someone trying to show off his indifference to the world. The writing style felt forced in a few places and some of the emotion is lost through the script format.

These guys don’t meet until the middle of the book, which is plenty of time for their respective lives to branch off into what seems like completely different directions. Will Grayson No. 1 forms a maybe-crush on a girl, goes along with Tiny and puts up with his sometimes-over-the-top gay behavior, which is stereotypical and slightly irksome. Will No. 2 has a mild addiction to the Internet due to an online relationship with someone named Isaac, who seems to be the only person in Will’s life he actually feels happy with.

I don’t want to reveal any crucial plot points; I will just say by the end of the story, both Wills have discovered a few things about themselves. The character development in the book is pretty good, even if some characters aren’t particularly likable. At some points I got tired of Will Grayson No. 2, with his constant lack of enthusiasm for almost everything; he sometimes comes across too whiny for my taste. Sometimes, I found myself rooting for one Will or looking forward to that Will’s chapters over the other.

But the book is well written for the most part; both characters have distinguishable styles and there was nothing too purple-prose-y or painful to read. The story leads up to a climax during Tiny Cooper’s musical production of epic proportions and has a satisfying ending. This—mixed with originality, a few sprinkles of humor, and a theme that’s thought-provoking yet not too preachy—makes it a book worth reading.

I would recommend it to kids twelve or older, since there’s strong language as well as some parts that are suggestive and not entirely ethically correct. It’s definitely not appropriate for any kid younger than ten.

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7 Comments »

  • Christine says:

    From your description, I would imagine I’d find myself trying to hurry through Will #2′s section as well. Do you know if the authors collaborated on both Will’s stories or did John Green write one and David Levithan write the other?

    What are your favorite books? I ask because you may like some other authors that I can introduce to my nieces and nephews.

    Great review, Aline! Hope to see you back here again!

  • EIREGO says:

    I know I have read other reviews by Aline, but I still can’t believe she’s so young. Man, when I was her age, I was reading a series of thin biographies of famous people like Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln and Kit Carson for extra credit in school. They were all about the same length and followed a stock format, hitting all the major facts without delving too deep. The issues in Will Grayson, Will Grayson are obviously a far cry from the pages of my youth and much more sophisticated in nature.

    Aline expresses herself on a much higher level of intellect than I did at that age.

    Not sure I know enough about this book yet. I will have to thumb through it before handing it off to my kids.

  • le0pard13 says:

    Great book review, Aline. I always enjoy your examinations. Thanks for this.

  • Brad Parks says:

    Aline,

    Great job on the review. Better than a lot of adult reviewers I’ve read, for sure!

    Brad

  • What a well-crafted and considered review, Aline ~ thank you!! If I spot my nephew reading this one, I’ll appreciate being somewhat to the wise about it for a change.

  • jenforbus says:

    Hi Aline,

    Another stellar job on the book reporting front. I’m embarrassed because I think you are reviewing better than I am!

    I had to chuckle at your comments about Will #2 because there are actual people I feel that way about. You just don’t want to be around them because of their outlook on life and their whole “whoa is me, everything is terrible” mentality. Maybe the author was intentionally trying to get you to feel that way about him?. Did other people not want to be around him? Don’t those kind of people just drive you nuts?

    Thanks for such a thorough review. I’ll keep this one in mind for my niece and nephew when they’re a little older.

    Keep ‘em comin’.

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