Disclaimer! I was given a copy of this through NetGalley in return for a fair and unbiased review. Honesty compels me to admit that I already owned the book when I requested it, I figured being given a copy would motivate me into reading it and reviewing it more quickly.
This book tells the story of two teenage boys, both named Will Grayson. They have alternating points-of-view chapters, one written by John Green, one by David Levithan. I shall call John Green’s teenager Will 1.0 and David Levithan’s teenager Will 2.0. Otherwise it’ll just get real confusing.
Will 1.0 is your average, not very popular teenager. His best friend, the physically enormous, but ironically nicknamed “Tiny” Cooper, has nearly a thousand Facebook friends and is the centre of attention wherever he goes. He’s also extremely gay, falls in love with someone new approximately twice a week and is so secure in his identity that he wants the school to fund a musical he’s written about his own life. He also intends to choreograph, direct, stage-manage and in general do everything of importance connected to the musical, initially named “Tiny Dancer”. Will 1.0 pretty much has two rules. 1) Try not to care to much about anything. 2) Keep your mouth shut. His apathetic attitude to the world is completely at odds with that of Tiny, who feels passionate about most things. Tiny is trying to set Will 1.0 up with Jane, the only other straight member of their schools gay-straight alliance. Will 1.0 likes Jane, but is also very taken with the idea of just having an unrequited crush on her, as that seems easier and a lot less likely to lead to heart ache.
Will 2.0 had a hard time winning me over, because his chapters were written entirely in lower case. as in he didn’t use any capitals at all. everything is written like this, even the names of other characters, like his one and only friend maura, and it drove me UP THE WALL. See how useful capitals can be? Will 2.0 is a loner, who lives alone with his mother and appears to be quite heavily medicated for depression. It’s never specified exactly what manner of mental instability, but as the book goes on, he’s clearly not one of these, easily cured, just a bit down individuals. Will 2.0 has been chatting online with this guy, Isaac, for about a year, and hasn’t admitted to anyone, least of all Maura, who seems extremely eager that he share all his deep inner pain with her, that he’s gay. One day, Isaac suggests that the two meet up, and this is what leads to the two Will Graysons actually meeting in person.
Due to reasons I don’t want to spoil, Isaac never turns up, but Will 2.0 meets Will 1.0 and they are both amazed and a bit baffled that they share a name. As Will 2.0 is quite upset after learning the truth about Isaac, Will 1.0 introduces him to Tiny, and soon Will 2.0 is not only openly gay at school, but has a larger than life boyfriend, who is very busy trying to get everything ready for the opening of his musical. Tiny’s relationship with Will 2.0 makes him realise that his master work can’t just be the Tiny Cooper story, it has to have a message. It needs to be mean something. He starts rewriting it, turning it into “Hold Me Closer” and in the process of being in love and making his musical happen, seems to forget all about his best friend, who’s going through some emotional turmoil of his own.
The first quarter to a third or so of the book, before the two Will Graysons meet, was a bit slow, and I was unsure what everyone online was so enthusiastic about. The convoluted circumstances leading to the two meeting, and the immediate aftermath is when the book sunk its hooks into me, and after that, I had trouble putting the book down.
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