Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The thing about Lola and the boy next door is that, since it's a companion book, it's inevitable to make a comparison with Anna and the French Kiss which, in this case, comes out as a disadvantage because, as far as I am concerned, Anna is the absolute winner.
Lola is a really cute story: she is a quirky, raised by gay parents, unique teenage girl.
When her first crush and ex-neighbor, Cricket, reappears on her doorstep after two years, things get complicated because Lola already has a boyfriend, Max, five years older than her, much more experienced.
As Cricket slowly worms his was back into her life - and into her heart - Lola will have to learn how to be honest with herself - and she will learn it the hard way.
I'll admit I had high expectations for this book and while it's certainly enjoyable and relaxing, it failed to deliver repeatedly for me.
Whereas Anna's story, while still being fluffy, was more believable, less shallow and more charming, Lola's story was definitely more clichéd, more puerile and felt forced in more than one occasion.
The most striking example of this "forcedness" is Max.
I didn't like how he first gets presented as an awesome boyfriend and then, quite conveniently, ends up being the asshole in a total unreasonable way. It was done unreasonably and felt so contrived, that when he does become an asshole and I was supposed to despise him I just couldn't bring myself to and I still liked him from before!
I wonder if it all has to do with the fact that the 5 years of difference in age between Lola and Max are taken as a big NO NO right from the start, because frankly, I didn't buy it. I had a 22 years old boyfriend when I was 17 and it was NOT a big deal. But, since it's taken for granted here that Max is too old for Lola, let's just make him the EVIL guy. The way the author deals with his character royally pissed me off. It wasn't smooth AT ALL.
But the same goes for the other characters: basically, they were just too black or white, they lacked depth and originality: Cricket was just too damn good for his own sake, Max too damn bad (kind of in a beautiful and damned way), Lola too damn in self denial: what she says to Max when she goes to his apartment? So not cool, girl. My eye was twitching madly during that passage.
Still, it's a book I'd recommend if you're looking for something quite readable and relaxing AND you loved Anna. Perkins certainly knows how to write a story and make her dialogues interesting. It's a colorful book, as colorful as its cover, despite the psycho-looking girl there.
I just wish there had been a little more to it, a bit more substance. Anna was definitely more fun for me.
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