Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Author: John Green and David Levithan
Publication Date: April 6, 2010
Publisher: Dutton Children's
Genre: Realistic fiction
Pages: 304
Age Rating: Readers over 14
My Opinion: 8/10

Hi, Readers!

       Happy first day of school!  Now that kids are back in school, their thoughts are filled with friends, sports, and homework.  It's much more difficult to make time for a good book during the school year, but Will Grayson, Will Grayson is worth the effort.  This collaboration between John Green and David Levithan is a great coming of age novel infused with comedy on every page.  
A quote from Will Grayson

       When Will Grayson gets roped into attending an underground concert with his best friend, Tiny, he thinks that the evening will be fairly ordinary.  However, things take a turn for the unexpected as soon as the concert bouncer notices a mistake on Will Grayson's fake ID and doesn't let him in.  Will's friends ditch him and he is left wandering on the street.  He runs into a boy who asks if he is "Isaac".  Turns out, that boy is also named Will Grayson!  The two boys develop an unusual friendship and struggle to figure out their high school traumas, from romance to social media, together in this funny, soul searching novel that makes being different cool.

       Although Will Grayson, Will Grayson isn't John Green's most powerful, life changing novel, it is certainly entertaining.  The story is narrated off and on by both Will Graysons.  One narrates in all lower-case, which makes it easy to differentiate whose point of view the story is being told through at any given point.  This lower-case narration also adds an interesting twist to reading.
Will Grayson's pastime

       The characters in the novel are absolutely, positively lovable. My personal favorite (and the most popular) character would have to be Tiny, the first Will Grayson's best friend.  Tiny is extremely large and openly gay, and he speaks his mind without any second thoughts.  He does play along with some societal stereotypes, but he is still a character that I wish could come to life off of the book pages.  My second favorite character is the second Will Grayson because he manages to turn his life around from being a depressed loner to being a caring young man with some excellent friends.  He faces some hardships head on, such as coming out, with absolutely no help from his classmates at school.

       Sure, Will Grayson, Will Grayson isn't a prize-winning novel, but it is a very quirky book with realistic characters and a unique plot line.  I would recommend it to any high school student, male or female, and it has wide reader appeal.  Now I will be adding this novel to my list of favorite John Green books!

Happy reading!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book Review: Elsewhere

Title: Elsewhere
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publication Date: May 15, 2007
Publisher: Square Fish
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 277
Age Rating: Readers over 12
My Opinion: 9/10

Hi, Readers!

       I recently saw a magazine article that discussed how a vacation can be influenced by what you read.  A good vacation is improved with a quality novel, while a bad vacation seems even worse if you've packed a boring book.  Luckily, I brought Elsewhere along on my vacation, and it entertained me through a couple of rainy days.  It is a lighthearted read that is at the same time  thought provoking.  Plus, Elsewhere's timeless qualities make it interesting for readers of all ages.

       Liz Hall gets into a biking accident and dies instantly at a mere fifteen years old.  Sounds like the end of her story, right?  Well, Liz wakes up on an enormous cruise ship that is traveling through an enormous ocean.  She can't remember how she has gotten there or where she is going.  After going exploring with a friendly roommate named Thandi and meeting the late musician, Curtis Jest, Liz comes to the realization that she is dead.  Of course, this discovery is not taken lightly.  The cruise ship finally reaches land, called Elsewhere, and Liz has no idea what is coming next.  When she is greeted by her deceased grandmother, Betty, who appears to only be thirty years old, she slowly begins to learn about life in Elsewhere.  However, her discoveries in Elsewhere are life-altering (or should I say death-altering?), and Liz's perspectives of life and death are changed forever.

       In this case, I don't feel that any summary of the novel could do it justice.  Gabrielle Zevin is able to create an entire alternate universe in a mere 277 pages.  She brings up questions such as what happens after death in a philosophical and respectful way.  One of Zevin's smartest decisions is to leave religion out of the picture - she therefore avoids upsetting readers with her creation of an afterlife.  Also, Zevin completely changes the rules of society in Elsewhere by making people age backwards and not care about money.  Although these concepts seem vague and difficult to comprehend, they are explained clearly in the novel and seem almost realistic.  Additionally, although Elsewhere is completely fictional, Zevin still deals with real-life issues such as depression and romance.  She perfectly blends the fantastic (talking animals, etc.) with the realistic.  

       One of the best parts about Elsewhere is that it is suitable for a wide audience.  Both teens and grown-ups alike will enjoy reading this fun and yet philosophical novel, both because of its interesting plot line and because of its lovable characters.  If you have any time left in your summer to read, I would highly recommend picking up a copy of Elsewhere.

Happy reading!