Books Read in 2014 – 52. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

200px-WillGraysonGenre: glbt, young adult, romance

Narrative Style: switches between two first person narratives, chronological

Rating: 4/5

Published: 2010

Format: Kindle

Synopsis: On the streets of Chicago, two teenagers called Will Grayson are having the worst night of their lives. Then they bump into each other and their lives change. 

This was, for the most part, a very pleasing read. The chapters alternate between Green’s Will Grayson and Levithan’s will. They are suitably different from each other and have different problems. I preferred Levithan’s will from the first as I felt I could relate to his depression. Green’s Will seemed more determined to make problems for himself and was less likeable. I liked the lack of capitalisation in Levithan’s chapters as it fitted well with that characters low self-esteem.

The story moved along quite quickly and the romances were well handled. Will Grayson’s confusion over whether he liked Jane or not was funny and apt whilst the romance between will and Tiny was touching and difficult. Between them they seemed to cover all the possible teenage romance problems without being too unsubtle.

In fact, I was close to giving this novel 5/5. There were a number of reasons why I didn’t. First of all, I felt Green’s characters were too large for the page and like in The Fault in our Stars, they were hard to get attached to because they seemed to represent so much. Tiny, in particular was annoyingly loud and painfully self-centred. He seemed to embody every gay stereotype. will was more convincing because he was just a teen who happened to be gay. I was actually pleased when the romance between will and Tiny did not work because I felt that will deserved better.

I’m not a fan of musicals. Although there was no singing, obviously being as how it is a book but even so there were songs. And while they were often witty, they were annoying. People bursting into song – hypothetical or otherwise – does not appeal to me.

Finally, the ending seemed to be quite sudden. Partly, this was due to reading on my kindle which claimed 91% because there was an interview with the two authors and an extract from The Fault in Our Stars but I could have read more. I thought that all the Will Graysons offering support to Tiny was a little sentimental although the two Wills were both in better places at the end so that was pleasing.

All in all, a witty and insightful look at teenage romance. The sort of book I wish I could have read when I was sixteen.


Books Read in 2014 – 44. Picnic at Hanging Rock – Joan Lindsey


Genre: Thriller, School
Narrative Style: Third person, chronological
Rating 3/5
Published: 1967
Format: Kindle
Synopsis: It was Valentine’s day in 1900 and the girls from Appleyard College for Young Ladies are excited about the picnic at Hanging Rock. The weather was perfect for the annual day out. Unfortunately three girls and one teacher would not return from this trip, the repercussions of which effect the entire town.

I liked the style in which this story was told with almost perfect detachment from the events therein. While some of the events described involve hysteria, the prose is never less than level headed and was very easy to read.
The lead up to the disappearance of the girls is nicely handled and excitement builds slowly but steadily with subtle hints that things aren’t quite right, everyone’s watch stopping at the same time, for example. When it is realised that the girls are missing then panic ensues, panic which is heightened when one of the missing girls comes crashing out of the undergrowth at the bottom of Hanging Rock. At this point, I was anxious to find out what had happened and eager to read on.
However, the novel changes not long after this and becomes less of a mystery story and more of a study in human nature – watching the various character’s reactions to events rather than solving the mystery. This wasn’t badly done but wasn’t what I was expecting. There are still moments of excellence – the hysterical reaction of the school girls to the one girl they manage to find is extremely well described but ultimately, I found the change in direction disappointing.
I also found it difficult to differentiate between some of the teachers and girls. They didn’t stick in my mind and I was constantly checking who was who.
The ending of the novel was unexpected and returned a little more to the mystery style and I did find that enjoyable but overall, this was an uneven read.