Monday, March 19, 2012

Lola and the Boy Next Door - a review

Lola and the Boy Next Door
Stephanie Perkins
384 pages
Dutton Juvenile


Why do I keep doing this to myself? I find out about these contemporary young adult novels that have a semi-cult following and I read them with a ferocity that can only be described as piggish. I stuff my face full of characters like Lola, Cricket, and Max and immediately do a shot of bourbon to man up.

I wish. Oh I wish I could grow a mullet and wear camo and drive a pickup truck. Instead I drive a Honda, wear tartan button downs, and read too many contemporary YA novels.

I also wish I could relate to Lola: a fashion queen with a penchant for dressing in costumes instead of outfits. Or relate to Cricket: the boy next door who is a genius (who also wears a lot of tartan button downs).  I wish I could stand up and shout "Rah rah rah!" for these two characters to hook-up. After all, I routed for St. Clair and Anna in Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss.*

I can't explain my lack of enthusiasm for Lola and Cricket to hook-up. Only that the tension between the two characters to get together is much different than Anna and St. Clair's. With those two characters we knew there was a chance they might not end up together. With Lola and Cricket? There's never a doubt (spoiler alert: they end up together).

I'm even skipping a general plot outline because that's all that really happens in the entire book. Except for the parts about fashion and dresses and wigs (I kept having to Google things I didn't know about--what the fuck is a Bakelite bracelet?).

I just couldn't connect to Cricket and Lola. I couldn't make myself give a crap about their relationship or friendship or "it's complicated" BS. The only character I could connect to is Lola's 22-year-old boyfriend Max. Max with his garage band, his multiple tattoos, and his teenage girlfriend.

I can relate to Max. I've got tattoos. I've dated a girl that's four years younger than me: heck, I've got a garage blog instead of a garage band. I think Stephanie Perkins should write a crossover novel about Max. He's a far more interesting character than Lola or Cricket and he's not even in the book that much.

The romance is okay, the writing is neat, but the characters are so... plain. The only thing interesting about Lola is that she has "dads" instead of "parents". The only thing interesting about Cricket is that his name is Cricket.**

Don't get me wrong. This is a cute book. This is a nice companion novel to Anna. But there's a romance here that only a girl could appreciate, and a lot of fashion talk that only a Project Runway fan could enjoy. A heavily tattooed guy who shoots bourbon? He's better off reading something else.

Full Disclosure: I bought and read this on my Kindle.
*I was glad to see that these two characters show up in this book. I'm glad both were still happy and in love.
**Stupid names in books really piss me off. And this name in particular angered me. I mean, really? Cricket? 

46 comments:

  1. ahh i've heard SOOO many mixed reviews about this book. needless to say, most weren't much of a fan after reading anna.. which makes me worried, because i LOVE anna & st clair. i've read about two chapter of lola, and it's just.. mehh. i really want to like it though, i really do! >.<

    and I AGREE! WHY THE NAME CRICKET?!?!?

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    1. I noticed a lot of five stars on Goodreads, but after reading a few other reviews this morning I noticed that it does tend to get mixed reviews. It just can't stand up against Anna.

      Yeah... that name... and I left out the part where I complain about the cover.

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  2. Being a girl myself I'm debating whether to get all pissy online about "a romance that only a girl could appreciate." I haven't read LOLA, but from your review I think maybe you meant "undemanding reader" and not "girl." But we're still friends.

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    1. I was thinking the same thing. :)

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    2. I meant no offense. I don't mean it like how I wrote it... I guess I should replace that with "romantically inclined individuals". Or you could write a sentence to replace it and I'll put it there.

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  3. Every time I see a review for this book from someone whose taste in books I actually respect...lackluster is about the best reaction. I think I'll go with my gut reaction and not read it. (And Bakelite bracelets are those chunky and often bright vintage - think 40s through 70s - plastic-like bracelets you see in thrift stores. My grandmother had a real thing for Bakelite jewelry.)

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    1. If you really wanted an update on St. Clair and Anna I would just get the ebook version, search the name "St. Clair" on your Kindle, and read those parts. I almost did it.

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  4. I agree with you Adam, I had to check goodreads, and I only gave this book 4 stars but I'm not sure why I rated it that high. I really liked Anna but you are spot on that the characters in this book are hard to relate to. Lola annoyed me a lot of the time..I felt like smacking her in the head a bunch. I just wanted her to get it together.

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    1. Primarily it's because she dresses so wacky and then wonders why people gawk at her... that made no sense.

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  5. I don't know that I'll ever read this book because I've never been able to get past the cover...and also now that you've read it for me and decided that you don't love it (aka neither will I). So thank YOU for doing the work for me. I can move onto bigger and brighter things, hopefully full of dragons and swords and American Gods.

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    1. Goodness. American Gods. I really need to reread that this year. Just reading the title makes me happy.

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    2. OH I KNOW. I'm reading American Gods right now. I'm about halfway through and I'm so giddy and insanely happy with it. I'm even happy about the TV show.

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  6. -gasp- I am a Bakelite bracelet wearing girl! I liked the book..but once again I like gushy...I like glitter...remember I like unicorns LOL..Not Really. I could never imagine my hubbie reading this..so props to you for at least taking it on. The joy of books is just this..there are so many ..all different..for all of us who are so different!

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    1. I remember you like unicorns! Thanks! I did learn a little bit about fashion, though (which is far more complex than I thought). So it wasn't a total loss for me.

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  7. I have been scared off by the creepy, dead-eyed doll look of Lola on the cover. I feel like it would come to life and kill me in my sleep.

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    1. The cover girl reminds me of one those creepy realistic robots that came out in Japan a few years ago.

      http://www.designboom.com/history/female_robots/24.jpg

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    2. If you look at Lola's head...it doesn't even look like she's comfortably resting her head..its more like she leaned and had her photo taken one day in one photo shoot and then another day somewhere else they found this guy who was looking at an odd angle and photo shopped them together.

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    3. She looks drugged now that I look closer. Like she's just leering at the camera.

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  8. Further proof that our Litmus is 100% accurate, my friend. Well done. ;P

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    1. Excellent. This pleases me. If the test ever fails the world could be thrown into complete chaos (and nobody wants that).

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    2. Absolutely not. That would be almost as devastating as learning you and I share nothing in common. ;P

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  9. Yay to written reviews! I've missed them so.

    I'm impressed you gave this one a chance. Good to know it does not compare to Anna... which I have yet to read.

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    1. I have too. I'm glad to be back doing them. Although, the occasional video review will pop up still.

      Anna is a great novel. I completely recommend it. Lola? Not so much.

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  10. I liked this one but it can't begin to compare to Anna. I liked Cricket (I have a thing for really smart guys) but I don't really think they should have ended up together. Their window talks were kind of like Dawson's Creek and we all know that Joey ends up with Pacey.

    I did really like that she had dads and there were a few laugh out loud moments. I lost it when they said the dog's name was Heavens to Betsy. I have high hopes for the next companion Isla (who was mentioned in Anna) but don't expect it to compare to Anna either.

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    1. I never watched Dawson's Creek. Suddenly I am glad for that.

      Isla is the next one? I can't remember who that was in Anna.

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    2. Isla is briefly mentioned during the bathroom fight scene. It's going to be called Isla and the Happily Ever After. Because that's not girly.

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    3. I just went back and read that whole part. But what's up with these titles and names? Seriously...

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  11. I liked this one more than Anna, but there were problems. Especially with Max being such a "He's here one minute, gone the next. HOW CONFENIENT" kind of character.

    BUT. I did really love the bits when she talked about trust. That is what made it a homerun of a book.

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    1. He really was. That bothered me that he only showed up when it was convenient.

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  12. I liked this book, but it was like nothing compared to ANNA. But then my sister read both of them also and liked this one more. I do agree though -- you always KNEW Lola and Cricket would end up together and the conflict in the meantime just wasn't enough to keep me fully invested. In her first book I really really HOPED Anna and St. Clair would end up together, but had some serious doubts about it throughout the book.

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    1. Exactly. There were moments when I thought Anna and St. Clair would never speak to one another again. With Cricket and Lola it was never a question.

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  13. I enjoyed reading this one but not as much as Anna. I couldn't relate to Lola either although I loved Cricket. The tension that I loved between Anna and Etienne seemed to be missing in this one. Oh well, maybe Stephanie Perkins' third novel will be just as good as her debut?

    Also, I find it funny that you could relate to Max. LOL garage blog.

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    1. Someone pointed out that Isla and the Happily Every After is the next one (what is with these titles?). She was briefly mentioned in Anna (I looked up her part on my Kindle). She could hook up with Max. I'd be okay with that.

      Having been in Max's situation before, I can say that I feel bad for him. I don't think Lola understands what he had to go through just to be with her. It's tiring. Eventually you give up because you realize that she invested herself--even only so slightly--into someone else. This guy put forth the minimum amount of effort to form a semi-relationship with Lola, and here Max is busting his ass just so he can have a full time relationship with her. She's being forced to call her dads every hour, he's being forced into mandatory Sunday dinners, etc. And what does she do? She questions his loyalty, whether or not he likes her just because she's young, etc. That is very insulting.

      Did he over react with jealousy over Cricket? Maybe. But I think he knew what Cricket was up to, and how Lola felt. I feel like his reaction was justified, although he could've been more grown up about it.

      Max wasn't the greatest guy (he is a drug user and doesn't have it all together) but I have far more sympathy for him than Lola.

      Sorry, this turned into a really long response. I liked Max's character, honestly.

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    2. Just discovered your blog. I think you do an excellent job in your reviews. They are so funny, but also insightful. Though at times I feel like a pushover after reading them.Mostly because there are some things you point out that I had not thought about before, but once I go back and think it over I can see how you get your conclusions. Case in point, your opinion of Max. I completely agree with every point you make in his case. I also agree with you on how the ending was predictable, but I really liked how the story was developed. I loved Lola. I liked her because she was flawed and struggling to come to terms with herself. I loved Cricket. I like nerdy guys with cool sense of fashion. I read the book in a day. I am looking forward to read Perkins next book just because it's hers. I cannot remember who Isla is.
      This got long. Sorry. Thank you for reviews. Please keep up the good work and allow me to enjoy more of them.

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    3. Thank you Jade!

      I have been in Max's shoes before so he's a far more interesting and engaging character for me (also, I'm a guy, so I can relate to guys better). I didn't like Lola as much as everyone else has. I think it's because I see her dressing up as a cry for attention and not a fashion statement. That might just be me, though.

      I just didn't like Cricket because his name is Cricket. I just couldn't handle that one. It was too much.

      Long comments are appreciated (I read and try to respond to every comment/Twitter/email that comes my way). Thank you for commenting!

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  14. I can agree that this wasn't as awesome as Anna but I did give me my contemporary YA fix that was needing. Well, maybe not 100% because I followed it up with Catching Jordan, which was a pretty good YA contemporary too. :)

    I'm a new follower! Saw your blog on the Goodreads IBBA! :)

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