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

Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green;Penguin Books USA

So here I go again with Mr John Green. And here he goes again, spitting out another carbon copy main character pretty much identical to all the rest he's ever written about.




I'm not much impressed with Will Grayson, Will Grayson and yet I was all geared up to be. After all, it's co-written by David Levithan and I just adored his book Every Day.


Will Grayson, Will Grayson is the story of two sad Will Graysons who meet by chance in Chicago one night and .... change both their lives as a result? Do they though? Because to be honest I wasn't really feeling the character development.


John Green writes the first Will Grayson, a nerdy some-time humorous, socially awkward teenager living by two rules: don't give a shit about anything and keep your goddam mouth shut. I did not much care for this Will Grayson. He's a dick to his friends and he's so decidedly average that I really found it hard to give a crap about him.


"Caring doesn't sometimes lead to misery. It always does."


Yeah. He literally doesn't give a fuck about anything. So why the hell should I give a fuck about him? He's an incredibly bland character, but also incredibly John Green with his little quips and his love for a quirky, non-mainstream and independent chick who he hardly knows. Once you've read one John Green novel, you've read 'em all. The romance follows the same-old-same-old routine of "Girl, you're too smart and sassy for me. I think I might love you but I don't have the confidence to let you know how I feel until we've worked through some shit alone." Yeah I'm getting real tired of this crap. Of course this kid has a car and just drives around wherever he damn well pleases, no thought for his parents or the cost of gas. He heads into the city where his friends let him down big-time and he stumbles upon the second Will Grayson, seemingly having some episode or something.



The second Will Grayson is penned by David Levithan and started out kinda promising despite his inability to use capital letters which gets pretty fucking irritating pretty fucking quickly. But this kid is so hard done by.


"i am constantly torn between killing myself and killing everyone around me.
those seem to be the two choices. everything else is just killing time.


Will Grayson, mark two is depressed and isolated. His life is so hard because he needs to have an after school job to help his long suffering mother pay the bills. He's on medication for his low mood. He has no friends except a bleak goth girl kid and a few math nerd types I'm guessing because these are the only people who will put up with his whining.


"i think the idea of a 'mental health day' is something completely invented by people who have no clue what it's like to have bad mental health. the idea that your mind can be aired out in twenty-four hours is kind of like saying heart disease can be cured if you eat the right breakfast cereal. mental health days only exist for people who have the luxury of saying 'i don't want to deal with things today' and then can take the whole day off, while the rest of us are stuck fighting the fights we always fight, with no one really caring one way or another, unless we choose to bring a gun to school or ruin the morning announcements with a suicide."


Depression is a hideous illness. It sucks the life out of suffers, it makes everyday simply a struggle to draw breath. It removes hope, joy, the ability to even feel anything, good or bad. It's an empty pit of despair. There's no future when you suffer from depression. Even tomorrow is a black hole of nothingness. But it's not this goddam fucking feeling sorry for yourself. It's not this bullshit garbage that Will insists on spouting about how everything in his life sucks, and there's no excuse for trivialising other people's experiences. When Will meets Tiny Cooper, Will Grayson, mark one's larger than life very gay and fabulous best friend all he does from day one is compare their struggles. Oh Tiny has it so much easier than poor Will. Tiny has a car, Will's still taking the bus to school. Tiny doesn't have to work, oh it's so awful for Will because he stacks shelves after school. Tiny is adored and accepted, Will is ignored. Boo-fucking-hoo - poor Will Grayson. How about Will Grayson shuts the fuck up and deals with his goddam shit instead of blaming everyone else because to him they seem to have it so much easier ?!! The shittiest thing about the whole situation is that neither Will 1 nor Will 2 change all that much.


I was under the impression that the whole point of this goddam book was the changes in the characters, moving their lives on to a place where they can both be more satisfied. Where did this occur ?!! As far as I can see we're in pretty much the same place at the end as we are when we set off. There's a lot of sorta useful stuff about acceptance, and sexuality and relationships but with Tiny Cooper taking centre stage over the epic school play he's creating the Wills get a little overshadowed. There's a fair stab made at Will mark one's transformation with Jane and the stupid dead-cat metaphor, a very ham-fisted attempt at explaining Schrodinger's famous thought experiment, but written in John Green's typical style of run-on sentences and loop the loops with plenty of repetition, it loses any kind weight it could have carried. Will realises that he yes, does love Tiny Cooper (as a friend guys, as a friend) but he's still being a dick about it. He's still got this horrendously needy and superior attitude to their relationship, berating Tiny for being busy with his masterpiece of a play which was the best thing about the whole goddam book.


Will Grayson mark two isn't much better. He remains a deer in the headlights despite being told repeatedly that he has such a good heart. The final scene where he brings all the Will Graysons from across the country together to bask in Tiny Cooper's glory and explain how much they appreciate him went way over my head. I didn't get it. I mean, it was nice that Will kinda learnt to think about someone else other than himself but what? What was that? For a start it was completely implausible. They had like, one hour to pull that shit together. No way. And for a second, why? Why are we stroking Tiny's ego when he clearly is a pretty happy person. He's got some discontent, but don't we all? I really just couldn't get my head around the purpose of this. I don't really get what it was adding to Will 2's situation.


I think overall this book was a bit of a nose dive for me. I think I find it hard to read about these teen problems because much of the time, in my opinion these aren't real problems. Will Grayson mark two was struggling, somewhat to come to terms with his sexuality. But c'mon, he was never really wrestling with it. I get that it can be a difficult thing to come to terms with and to admit. But I mean, Will just came right out with it one day. He wasn't pushed and like, he wasn't that anxious over it. He was met with general acceptance and we all moved on. I'm certain it's not like this for many people but Will Grayson, Will Grayson never really grabbed me as a heart-felt coming-out story. No-one's sexuality was much of an issue. Which is great, but setting that aside, what was the deal here? My teenage years were really hard, and I'd like to read a book where authors aren't afraid to write teenaged characters that have had a similarly really shit time for whatever reason. Books make us feel like we aren't alone in the world, like other people have struggled our struggles and that someone out there understands us. And having this understanding and acceptance can go a long way to making dealing with our shit feel a whole lot easier. So when this kind of endless non-problem shit is dressed up and sold to me as a story about teenaged hardship I can't help but feel disappointed. There's nothing real in here, there's nothing raw or emotional or heart-felt. It's plastic - cold, hard, shiny plastic. And despite being assured on the back cover that this book "will have readers simultaneously laughing, crying and singing at the top of their lungs" I found myself doing done of these things, preferring to sigh and roll my eyes when the kids found it so hard to have loving, hard working parents, their own computers, a safe and secure neighbourhood to live in and no bullies to contend with.


Maybe I just completely missed the point of this book but I finished it and then I was like, is that it ?!! What the fuck was the point in that ?!! I mean, the plot and the writing style appeared relatively strong and to be going somewhere in the beginning. But it slowed to a steady and meandering drip rather quickly and I totally lost the thread of what direction the story was headed in. Oh well. Can't win 'em all I guess. Or in the case of me vs John Green, I suppose it would be more accurate to say can't win any of 'em.


Ciao for now !!