I, like every other person on the planet has read and loved The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I have also read Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan. I loved them both. When I saw that they had co written a novel, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, I decided I really had to read it to see if I liked them combined as much as I do apart.
I don’t, is the simple answer.
Here’s the why.
I find books that are written by two people quite distracting, as if I know it has been written by two people I spend a lot of my time looking for the joins – i.e. where one authorial voice ends and another one starts. In this book it wasn’t too difficult. John Green and David Levithan take it in turns, chapter by chapter, and each stick to one voice, a Will Grayson each, but it still doesn’t have the cohesiveness, in my mind, that I would want. It helps that the two Wills are very different to each other here, which means that kind of impact on your awareness is minimal, but I still found myself having a little mental chat about it when I should really have been focussing on the book itself.
Each Will has a problem with their love life. The first Will is friends with the gayest, largest footballer in the world, who dominates his life, and gives him the excuse to shrink back into a kind of passive existence where he tries not to stick his head above the parapet or make any decisions at all. This becomes problematic when he meets a girl he likes, but doesn’t want to take the risk of committing to her. The second Will is depressive, difficult to like and combative except in his online life where he has met a boy called Isaac who he is convinced he is in love with.
The two Wills bump into each other on a night when their attempts to find love go disastrously wrong. Their meeting is a catalyst that turns both their worlds upside down.
This is a quite lovely, redemptive novel, albeit rather sugary for me. I prefer the anger of The Fault in Our Stars, and the sheer weirdness of Boy Meets Boy. The saccharine, feel good quota in this book is pretty high, and it’s not something I was entirely comfortable with. I much preferred the sections with the angry, depressed Will Grayson to the bits where the first Will Grayson spends a lot of time playing second fiddle to his friend Tiny and his quest to put on the gayest musical of all time.
I liked the fact that the book is off beat. I like the fact that the book is a hymn to acceptance of all forms of teenage weirdness, whether that be their sexuality or their choice in clothing or their inability to communicate effectively. I like the fact that the book is rather strange. There are a lot of positive things to say about it.
The content, while not graphic, does not shy away from things like LGBT relationships, depression, broken families etc, and is therefore suitable for teens rather than children. I’d recommend it for ages 12 and up of both sexes, as long as you think they could handle the content and find it helpful.