John Green – Will Grayson, Will Grayson Review

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is the fourth novel by John Green that I have read, and although I didn’t enjoy his first three, I decided to persevere because of the rave reviews he often gets. Green’s is a style of writing that I had never really warmed to, and often actually felt irritated by. It kind of felt like when you were a teenager and you’d have that annoying teacher who tried to be ‘down with the kids’, and painfully use their lingo.

Nevertheless, I gave this book a go. I also decided to give it a chance as it was co-authored by David Levithan, and I hoped this might well dilute the awkwardness Green brings to his books. Like most of Green’s novels, it’s bold. Will Grayson, Will Grayson is told from two different perspectives, the odd-numbered chapters, wrote by Green, follow Will Grayson 1, and the even-numbered chapters, penned by Levithan, follow the other Will Grayson. The writing styles in these perspectives vary greatly; Green’s chapters are much more traditional, whereas Levithan’s mirror that of a chatroom message, with each character having a quirky nickname. As the story progresses and the characters’ lives intertwine, the writing styles begin to thin and merge into one, which I really do like.

Both Will Grayson’s couldn’t be much different – hence the exceptionally different writing styles – but at their cores they share problems. Both are discovering and fighting their feelings for someone close to them, albeit feelings for different genders. Grayson 2’s struggle to come out is expertly written, and It’s great to see LGBT characters written in multiple ways, with Tiny being so open and loving who he is. In contrast, many of the background characters are quite hard to warm to, and you never really know enough about them to let them in. Jane is ridiculously dull, Maura is just too easy to hate, and Will Grayson 1 doesn’t seem to have much of a story arc considering he is the title character.

I’m not sure if Green was purposefully trying to make Tiny so damn annoying, but if he did he succeeded, and his blasé attitude towards relationships is cringeworthy. Some of Green’s mannerisms and styles of writing that I hated in his other books are less on show here, albeit mainly because he only writes half the chapters. His writing does seem more natural, more reserved in this novel, and it makes it much more readable. With Green’s other books I found myself lowering the book and tutting, with this one I just kept turning.

Which leads me to my big problem with this book. Nothing really happens. You keep reading chapter after chapter waiting for the story to really get going, but it never does. In fact, it’s overall a bit of a bore. Halfway through the book Will Grayson 1 and Jane enter a relationship, but you never really hear about it after that. The whole Tiny/Will Grayson 2 story is completely left up in the air at the end, and the only big event that happens is Tiny’s musical at the end.

It’s really a shame that the book doesn’t really lead anywhere because it was building up quite nicely. For once I wasn’t incredibly put off by John Green’s writing, and if the story had grown more, and more excitement was added, it would have been a great book. Alas, it’s reading time that I really do wish I had back.

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