Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Author: John Green & David Levithan
Pages: 310
Genre: Contemporary YA Fiction
Release Date: April 6th, 2010
Publisher: Dutton
Source: Personal Copy

After a somewhat lackluster finish to my reading last year, I needed to get a couple of books under my belt and revive my reading mojo. Sometimes only a quick read that can be finished in a day will work. Often times this is when I turn to a YA novel. In early 2011, I read and fell in love with The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan. In my review I wrote that "I absolutely adore when an author can get in my head and write something to which I can instantly relate." I've also read Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, which he co-authored with Rachel Cohen, and thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the world they created. So when I was looking into other books he had written, I jumped on Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

First off I want to say that this book addresses a very touchy subject matter in a youthful, in-your-face manner which I do appreciate. The more we can teach teens about tolerance, whether they agree or not, the higher the probability of people treating each other with the mutual respect of human beings. I applaud John Green and David Levithan for creating a novel with such a bold look at the subject, but I can't say it made for the greatest read. The plot was somewhat believable up until the end, which induced a huge "Are you kidding me?" eye roll. Also, I do question the realism of a Chicago public high school's administration as well as the parents' complete willingness to produce the type of play staged in the story without any questions being raised.

This book uses an alternating chapter format to follow the lives of two boys both named Will Grayson whose lives intersect in a downtown Chicago porn store after some very fateful turns of events. Unfortunately, I didn't really see a huge difference between the two, so either I just lacked the sympathy I was supposed to feel towards both characters, or they were both too underdeveloped for my tastes. The first Will Grayson is quiet, nerdy, has few friends, and leads the typical angsty life of a teenage boy. Exhibit A:
I don't really understand the point of crying. Also, I feel that crying is almost...totally avoidable if you follow two very simple rules: 1. Don't care too much. 2. Shut up. Everything unfortunate that has ever happened to me has stemmed from failure to follow one of the rules.
Next is the other Will Grayson (who's chapters were written using the very annoying 'no capitilization' tactic), who lives in the suburbs of Chicago with his mom. With few friends and having been diagnosed with clinical depression, he must deal with being being gay but keeping it hidden except with Isaac, with whom he is having an online relationship. Again, the angst comes into play with exhibit B:
she tries, and that's what makes it so pathetic. i just want to say 'i feel sorry for you, really i do.' but that might start a conversation, and a conversation might start a fight and then i'd feel so guilty i might have to move away to portland or something.
Now, here's where the story left me a little stumped. How could a book titled Will Grayson, Will Grayson not center around either of the Will Graysons? After reading about a third of the book I realized that Tiny Cooper, best friend of one Will and love interest of the other, was the main focus. Tiny's character is narcissistic, loud, and selfish, and I wasn't very impressed. So often situations were manipulated by Tiny with the slighted character having to be the one to apologize. I like that he is openly gay and proud, but his other characteristics leave a lot to be desired.

Overall, the book was a fast read with some great secondary characters who redeemed the story a little. While I don't think this was the best of Levithan's works, it definitely hasn't soured me on the writer. I will admit that I am in the minority in my opinion of Will Grayson, Will Grayson. So many readers and bloggers absolutely love this one, so be sure to check out some of the reviews below if the story sounds interesting to you.

        -Erin Reads
        -Amy Reads


  1. Oh, I am sorry that you didn't like this one and that some of the elements toward the end felt farfetched. I have read a lot of reviews on this book and sort of feel that I would like to read it, but do want to take into consideration what you say about it too. I might just end up reading it, but keeping my eyes open to the things you mention in your review. Thanks for the thoughtful and well written post today. It was enjoyable and enlightening!

  2. Good question. I haven't read the book but from the title, you'd think it was at least about one of them.

    Have you sparked your reading mojo yet? If I don't read many books at once, I find myself in a bit of a slump. I was only reading one book after New Year's and found myself sliding so now I am reading a few. Just finished The Odds by O'Nan. I am reading The Marriage Plot, The Stranger's Child and The Scarlet Letter.

  3. I so know that feeling of needing a great, quick read to perk up one's reading -- surprisingly, for me it came in the form of a non-fiction book about Western lit -- very silly and opinionated, but joyful, too, and I raced through. Now my heavier lit fics seem less daunting!

    This, however, seems a bit unappealing -- to me, at least.

  4. Zibilee - Thanks for your wonderful comment! I would definitely give this one a shot if it interests you at all. The book's a very fast read
    so the commitment's small. I enjoyed it...but maybe you would enjoy it much more.

    Ti - Yeah, my mojo's been sparked! I've finished three books so far this year. I've definitely taken the "read what I want when I want" approach and, like you, have started multiple books that are all different in the hopes that I'll have one to fit any mood I find myself!

    Audra - What an really interesting find! Can't wait to read your review of it...sounds like something that could perk up my reading!

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