John Green has made a name for himself in the young adult genre, most of his books receiving that label, something that I personally find slightly off-putting, given that in my opinion a lot of people past the age of 25 could benefit from reading one of his books, preferably without being judged as immature by others with different preferences.
Now, Will Grayson, Will Grayson is somewhat different than John Green’s other works (Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns or The Fault in our Stars come to mind). For one, despite making you sympathise with its characters, the overpowering need to rip your heart out while you bawl, curled up in a ball on the floor is distinctly lacking. It’s the tale of two people, of the same age, born in the same year with different problems, that have spent their lives completely unaware of the other’s existence. Their paths cross due to what might seem like an absurd turn of events and changes start piling up one after the other, the snowball effect altering everything in its path.
The writing style is different for the two characters, one of them being written by John Green (you’ll definitely recognize his style) and the other is written by David Levithan, giving us two very different people, something that would’ve been a little harder to pull of if a single person would’ve been the voice between the both of them. I think it would’ve had a very Gilmore Girls feel to it in that case, everyone would’ve had the same wit and speech pattern. Thankfully, it was not the case here.
The whole purpose of the book is to be a lesson, funny enough, it’s not the usual poignant lesson about how we’re all perfect and how everyone could and should love us just the way we are. While ultimately that seems to be the message that comes across, on the journey to its peak, we actually learn how flawed, self-centred and selfish everyone is, no matter the image they project of themselves outwardly and inwardly. Still, the heroes aren’t unsympathetic, they are more or less avatars of the readers, teenage, young adults or pushing eighty, they are characters that strive to represent each type of person: the perpetually frightened of life, of making choices, the eternally depressed, the doom and gloom type, the cheerful one that hides behind his mask of smiles and joy and even the type of person that loves to watch the world burn. Okay, perhaps that kind is particularly poorly represented, but Will Grayson, Will Grayson still tries to spin the story to show off the small glimpses of each person that at one point or another each of us becomes as life happens around us, or the type of person that we meet at least in our lives.
The story centres around two Will Graysons, each one living in his own worlds, riddled with problems that seem impossible to surpass, at least to them, worlds populated with colourful characters such as Tiny Cooper who manages to crossover from one Will to the other and change everything in his path. To be honest, when I bought the book I wasn’t sure it could be as good as the other books of his I’d read. I was afraid that it will follow a certain pattern I’d noticed, when boy meets girl, falls in love and spends the whole book chasing after her. It was a bit of a variation to the theme and personally it’s one of my favourite on my John Green list. It’s funny and quirky and even when it’s sad it manages to insert one sentence that changes the feel of the whole chapter. I laughed more reading it than I had in weeks while I was struggling to “get a life” and for that alone it gets a 10+ in my own personal black book of books.
It brought us such gems as:
“dating you would be like a series of unnecessary root canals interspersed with occasional makeout sessions.”
or, one of my personal favourites:
“i can’t help thinking that ‘getting a life’ is something only a complete idiot could believe. like you can just drive to a store and get a life. see it in its shiny box and look inside the plastic window and catch a glimpse of yourself in a new life and say, ‘wow, i look much happier – i think this is the life i need to get!’ take it to the counter, ring it up, put it on your credit card. if getting a life was that easy, we’d be one blissed-out race. but we’re not. so it’s like, mom, your life isn’t out there waiting, so don’t think all you have to do is find it and get it. no, your life is right here. and, yeah, it sucks. lives usually do. so if you want things to change, you don’t need to get a life. you need to get off your ass.”
Bottom line? Read the book, take the time to try and understand it and don’t get hung-up on the fact that supposedly it’s only aimed at younger people. The lessons are universal and sometimes they are just the swift kick in the butt we all need. And when no one around us would give it to us, I suppose it falls to the authors we like to do just that. Have a little of John Green’s self-pimping of Will Grayson, Will Grayson and start reading and in the immortal words of all nerdfighters and all the other geeky/nerdy types: dftba!