Monday, October 10, 2011

Lola and the Boy Next Door

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

So, I've wanted this book since I read Anna and the French Kiss.  And based on Anna and the reviews I've read of it, it was pretty much what I expected it to be: a drama-filled, very very cute story about costumes and moons and boyfriends and the boy next door.

If I was asked to describe Perkins's writing style in one  word, the first that would pop to mind is: addicting.  Very, very addicting.  I read both Lola and Anna in one day(clarification--I didn't read both of them in the same day, I read each of them in one day).  There's just something about her writing and her story that makes you have to keep reading until the very end. And that's a great quality.
However, the second word that would come to mind is not so much an adjective as a noun: capitals.
They're really my major qualm with the writing in general.  The capitals.  There were a lot of them in Anna, and there are a lot of them in Lola, and I they just make it harder for me to take what's happening seriously when I feel like I'm being shouted at.  Most of the phrases in capitals would've sounded much, much better in either normal text or italics.  I'm hoping she switches to italics in Isla's story, because the capitals are really my only problem with Perkins's writing.  For the most part, I think she's got a fun, enchanting, addictive writing style that really brings her story to life.

Ah, the characters. Some stories are much more plot-focused, but this one was definitely about the characters.  I want to talk about all of them, but since I don't want to be here all day, I'm going to keep most of them short.

Calliope: Really liked her.   Felt bad for her, also.  And I was on her side when she told Lola to stop stringing Cricket along.

Max: Really disliked him.  Did not understand what Lola saw in, or loved about, this douchebag. He treated her like a kid and hated her friends and family.

Nathan & Andie: Sometimes I liked them, sometimes their protectiveness went a little overboard and frustrated me, particularly with Nathan.  But overprotective parents are better than parents who don't give a shit, I suppose.

Lindsay: I liked her.  She was fun and nice and reasonable, something Lola desperately needed in a best friend.

Anna and St. Clair: Um . . . Anna and St. Clair! I was so excited to read about them in here, but I was even more excited when they turned out to actually have a role in the story.  They weren't just fleetingly mentioned, they were actually major side characters. And I loved them.  It's funny, in Anna and the French Kiss, while there were sometimes I really liked Anna, there were sometimes I really disliked her, but in Lola, I loved her.  And of course, St. Clair. I adore St. Clair.

Cricket: Cricket. What do you say about Cricket?
He's sweet, adorable, awkward, cute, funny, loyal, amazing, etc.  I have come to the conclusion that Stephanie Perkins's greatest strength is creating male characters that I fall in love with.  I fell in love with St. Clair in Anna and the French Kiss, and I fell in love with Cricket in Lola and the Boy Next Door.  They are very different types of boys, but both lovable in their own way. Cricket was just this . . . this joy, this type of person that you would always want to be around who would never hurt you and always care about you.   He's the boyfriend of your dreams without being that "hot and unattainable" type that is often featured in YA today. I loved Cricket, pure and simple. Loved him.

Lola: I . . . had really conflicting feelings about our narrator here.
There were some times that I really liked her. She had some good lines, and there were some really sweet moments with her and Cricket.  But a lot of the time I was really upset with her and the decisions she was making. Mainly, stringing Cricket along like she did.  She very clearly led him on, but kept pulling back and saying she was with Max and that she loved Max which as I stated before makes no sense because Max is a douchebag.  And she got all hurt and offended when Calliope called her out on it when the fact is it's true.  There were also times when she got so paranoid or jealous and so easily blew things out of proportion, kinda like Anna in her book. I've come to the conclusion that the reason I loved Anna in this book is because now that she has no one to be jealous of she's a really awesome person.  I hope Lola becomes this awesome person.

Now, I must be honest. I'm a bit biased here.  See, I'm not a big fan of general fiction drama.  Drama in plots involving magic and other worlds and all that shit? Fine.  But even though I know it happens every day, "real life" drama in general fiction books often comes off, to me, as . . . somewhat petty, I guess.  So, yeah. I'm biased.
And if I'm being honest, I feel like this book could've been considerably shorter if some of the more pointless drama had been cut out.  There was some very necessary drama, but some of it just didn't need to be there.
But despite what it might sound like, I did like the plot. I also liked a lot of the subtle messages throughout the book, and I loved all the stuff with the moon and the stars.  Something that did bug me, though, was the the pre-existing Cricket/Lola drama.
See, from the way Lola was reacting to them, I thought he'd done something terrible. They'd gotten together and he'd cheated on her. He'd killed her dog.  He'd told her she was a horrible person and never wanted to talk to her again.  When I found out what it actually was, it was just . . . anti-climactic.  I was just thinking, That's what all the fuss was about?  I mean, I get why she'd be upset, just not why she'd be as upset as she was.
However. Overall, I did like the plot.  The overwhelming cuteness put a smile on my face, and that is something most books cannot do.

Like I said before, this book is pretty much what I expected. Melodramatic and cute and sweet and something that leaves you beaming and wishing for your own happy-endings and your own Crickets and St. Clairs when you're done.
Four stars.


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