Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan

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Image from Goodreads
Author: John Green & David Levithan
Publisher: Speak
Publication Date: April 2011 
Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads
One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two strangers cross paths. Two teens with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, culminating in heroic turns-of-heart and the most epic musical ever to grace the high school stage.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is an in-depth story in which two boys with the same name meet out of coincidence. The narrative covers the journey of how their lives seem to merge into one, as they become regular acquaintances.
The main characters, both named Will Grayson, are two very different people yet they share similar problems. They are both gay, attempting to fit in and struggling to find friends. Having friendships is not easy, as the first Will Grayson isolates himself considerably by abiding by the two rules ‘to shut up and not care’, whilst the second Will finds himself isolated at school, where being gay means being different.
The narration was very blunt about serious situations, for example, the first Will Grayson you are introduced to mentions ” … and then [Mum] has to go cut cancer out of someone”, after complaining considerably about not being allowed to go to a concert.  I feel that the informal style of the book really added effect, and delivered a sense of crudeness which although was slightly aggravating, fitted in with the style of writing perfectly. I recall the end of Will Grayson, Will Grayson as my favourite part, because there is a significant contrast between the depression and negativity portrayed in the story previously. The longing and need is suddenly replaced with a feeling of hope and freedom, but at the back of my mind I still feel that the last section of the book was rather long-winded and overplayed.
I found it challenging to decide on a favourite character throughout this novel, as I discovered it was difficult to relate to their fragile personalities. The majority of the characters were teenagers with whom I could therefore connect, yet they were still approximately three years older than myself which had a big impact on the way that they perceived situations compared to me. Many of the characters were marginally described to the reader in a few sentences, whilst descriptions of others spanned a page and a half, yet somehow all of them gave me the same impression; the characters felt abstract and somewhat distant. A great many of the characters, including the secondary characters such as the Will Graysons’ parents, felt quite flat and not very three-dimensional. Green and Levithan should aim to explore the people within Will Grayson, Will Grayson more in order to engage and immerse the reader in a more effective way, and to improve the reader’s level of understanding.
It took me a while to adjust to the format of the novel. The chapters alternate between the two Will Graysons, therefore meaning that by the time I had remembered what had happened to a particular Will Grayson, the book had moved on to the life of the other Will Grayson. This happened continuously, and caused me to occasionally get the details of the two characters mixed up, at which point I had to close the book and attempt to make sense of it all.
The plot was also slightly confusing. I believe that it was made up of many different minor plots combined into one. By amalgamating the smaller plot threads, I feel that there was not really a sense of direction, although by researching John Green I have realised that the author likes to include unexpected features, twists and turns.
I personally feel that Will Grayson, Will Grayson is in the category of books that you need to read twice to form a clear understanding of what has happened. Whilst the plot and format were slightly perplexing, it made the reader think about what they were reading, meaning, therefore, that this book is appropriate for those trying to keep up or to improve upon their reading skills.
I would recommend this book for people over the age of 13, due to some mature themes and bad language. For example, there is evidence of misdemeanour (fake ID), violence and skiving off school within the book. In addition, towards the middle of the novel Will Grayson visits a porn shop to meet up with an online boyfriend who he has never met before in person, and I was quite taken aback by this. I was shocked when I first started reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson because the first few chapters consisted of several topics that one might not think to mention so instantly and boldly without any introduction, for example sexual identity, in addition to childish humour evolving around picking noses. The foul language of this novel implies and supports the negative feel, which is a common theme for the duration of Will Grayson, Will Grayson.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson is not something I would recommend if you are looking to escape from the stress of reality, or just to simply enjoy reading. If I were looking for something to read to improve my literacy skills, however, this would be a good option as the quality of writing in Will Grayson, Will Grayson is excellent and rather clever. I feel that I did not fully appreciate the standard of writing until after I had completed the novel, and in some ways I believe that this makes the book even more intriguing, as I then felt the need to re-read it. In order to fully enjoy the novel I believe you need to have an acquired taste for this material to some extent.
Deep, emotionally challenging and informal books do not usually appeal to me, and, to be honest, neither did this. I had never read a John Green book before but by the reviews on his work I decided to read Will Grayson, Will Grayson because the synopsis caught my attention and other reviews on the novel were generally positive. However, I feel that the synopsis was slightly misleading, as it focusses on the end of the book and not so much on the build-up to the positive outcome on which the novel finishes.

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