Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why I Won't Read Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Almost exactly two years ago, over the course of a week long recess from classes, I hunkered down in the common room of my all but abandoned dormitory and began to read John Green's Looking For Alaska. There's nothing particularly special about Looking for Alaska; It's a printz medalist, yes, and also a very good, if flawed, young adult novel but these aren't the reasons for my strained recollection. Looking For Alaska, if I may be so indulgent to say so, was a baptism of sorts into this epoch of my life. Zeitgeist or no, one way or another, I owe John Green a hefty debt. Which is why I can't help but feel a margin of guilt for not planning to read his new novel, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, due out in April.

The primary reason for my betrayal stems from John Green's 2008 novel, Paper Towns. His third novel, like his first and second, featured an intelligent, forlorn, nerd protagonist and an enigmatic, wild, and ultimately misunderstood love interest. The themes, at least of Alaska and Paper Towns, are identical twins, different in appearance only under pedantic, critical inspection. I'll spare you further details, but needless to say I was very disappointed.

In addition, Will Grayson, Will Grayson is co-authored by fellow YA writer David Levithan, best known for the novels Boy Meets Boy and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Levithan is one of the few young adult authors I'm aware of writing stories about gay characters, which I regard to be of particular importance. I don't have much first-hand experience (though I'm working on it, as you'll see by my next few book choices) but most adult gay fiction seems to be cynical or smut. Neither is what a young gay teen needs and so I have a lot of respect for him, but because his work seems to be sticky adolescent faith-renewer, I have always hoped to avoid reading him. I'm far too much of a cynic myself.

And then, of course, there's the description of the novel itself:
One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.
If using fabulous and musical in the same sentence weren't enough of a turn-off, If I were to hazard a guess, this novel is going to concern itself with self-appreciation or-- God help me-- truly understanding other people. Two characters with the same name? Really? There's only so many places you can go with that in a YA novel.

John Green, I want to support you, I do. I owe it to you to try, and I enjoy being a loyal reader, honestly. So why do you have to make it so goddamn hard?

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