Right, so last week I needed a break from my submissions pile and blasted through a pile of published books instead of muddling my way through manuscripts. I debated whether or not to review each book individually or together in one enormous post, but I decided separately would probably help the tl;dr.
Review of WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by John Green & David Levithan
For some reason, I keep wanting to type David “Leviathan” instead of Levithan. Anyway, WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON was the first book I purchased initially for my ereader. So this review has the privilege of being two-for-one: review of content and review of form.
First off, review of content. WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON is the story of two high school boys who both happen to be named Will Grayson, whose paths happen to cross accidentally one night and how it affects them. Except for me, the novel should have been titled TINY COOPER IS BESTEST CHARACTER EVER.
Because he totally is.
This book, as my coworker Vicki says, is satisfying. One rarely says that about fiction and YA fiction at that. For me, YA is often exciting, thoughtful, heartwrenching, etc. but rarely does it leave me with a contented sigh at the end.
The reason I’m so contented? Tiny Cooper. Tiny Cooper is, as one Will Grayson says, “the world’s largest person who is really, really gay” or “the world’s gayest person who is really, really large”. Tiny Cooper is faaaaaaaabulous and fabulous. Gay, outgoing, or fat, Tiny is a refreshing character, teen, gay, or otherwise, because he’s so comfortable with himself. But this isn’t to say that Tiny doesn’t have his share of problems or insecurities, indeed, it’s the validation of Tiny as who he is at the end of the novel that makes this book so lovely and satisfying.
Hang on, JJ, you might say, I thought this was a book about two boys named Will Grayson. Who is this Tiny Cooper you’re going on about? Are you sure you read the right book?
I did, it’s just that I found the Will Graysons vastly less interesting. It’s a bit of an unfair assessment, but in all honesty, I really do feel this novel belongs to Tiny. Two rotating viewpoints is tricky to execute, and as fine as Green and Levithan are as writers, the Will Graysons have very little to do with each other, and everything to do with the largest gay person ever or the gayest large person ever. Consequently, Tiny is the fulcrum around which the other two rotate.
Personally, Green’s Grayson is my favourite of the two narrators. It may be because I’m familiar with Green’s writing, or it may be because Levithan’s Grayson can’t capitalize to save his life.
I develop a little bit of a facial tic when people don’t capitalize and punctuate properly. I am, at heart, an old-fashioned girl and even in this text and Gchat age (Anyone remember AIM? Remember when it was the cool thing to do? AM I REALLY THAT OLD?), I prefer that you not butcher the English language, thanks.
I understand why Levithan’s Grayson writes the way he does. One, it’s to visually different the two boys. Two, he’s a depressed and bitter, bitter young man and he just can’t be bothered to care. I get it; it doesn’t bother me any less. Also, I fear for Levithan’s Grayson a little. I know a great many older gay men who are depressed and bitter and they invariably turn out to be unbearable queens. Thankfully he has the cheerful influence of Tiny and other gay kids comfortable with themselves, so there’s hope, especially by the novel’s end, which I keep coming back to as being INCREDIBLY satisfying and “feel good”.
Recommended! Recommended! Go and tell me you love Tiny as much as I do!
And now, review of form. First, I’ll say that I love the instant gratification aspect of buying digital books. Hmmm, I feel like reading this book! I shall purchase immediately. (I fear for my wallet.) None of this walking down to the bookstore business! I don’t have to get off my lazy butt! Awesome! However, the experience of reading on an ereader was…not the best.
It takes far too long for me to flip a page, for one. I’m a speed reader, so I tend to read in gulps, as opposed to word-by-word. The other is that, because I’m a speed reader, I often need to flip back a couple of pages or so to remember a detail better. Usually I can flip to “about where” I remembered reading it on a physical book. On an ereader? Absolutely impossible.
I’m not sure whether or not I like reading ebooks. I can’t deny the appeal of being able to carry several books at once and not have to worry about space, especially as I usually read three or four books at a time. However, the ereading device simply cannot match my reading needs. It’s too slow.