Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan- Review by Carlyn

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a coming of age novel written by John Green and David Levithan. Both authors are very successful writers in their own right and they have both written many young adult books. Will Grayson, Will Grayson is their first collaboration. This book is unique in that John Green and David Levithan decided to write a novel about two characters that have the same name and the authors chose to each have one Will Grayson. The authors decided to write three chapters each about their Will Grayson and they wrote the rest of the novel together. John Green wrote the first three even numbered chapters and David Levithan wrote three odd numbered chapters after that.

At first, I found it hard to see to distinguish between the two Will Graysons because I didn’t know that the story would be told from both their point of views and that it would be in first person. However, I soon learnt the differences between the characters. I also learnt from doing research in this review, John Green’s Will Grayson’s text is all in lowercase and proper English while David Levithan’s Will Grayson has coarser language.

John Green’s Will Grayson is affluent with two parents who are doctors. He is best friends with Tiny Cooper, a flamboyantly gay teenager who is writing an autobiographical play. Will becomes apathetic after losing some friends for defending Tiny against the homophobic slurs that they said against him.  Will and Tiny’s relationship is strained when Tiny bases a character on Will Grayson in his play and Will starts to suspect that Tiny is self absorbed. Will is also interested in their mutual friend Jane but she has a boyfriend.

David Levithan’s Will Grayson is poorer than the other Will Grayson. He’s gay but hiding it from his friends and family. Will Grayson thinks he’s found love online with a boy named Isaac but Isaac isn’t what he seems. Levithan’s Will Grayson is also going through depression.

This was my first young adult novel that had a gay main character. I would say that it’s rare to have a gay protagonist. I wasn’t expecting it but it was an interesting to read about a romance between two guys. What I really liked from the book was Tiny’s musical at the end. Levithan even published the whole script, it’s called Hold Me Closer: the Tiny Cooper Story. It sounds like it would be a fun musical to watch and I would love to hear all the songs.

I didn’t really like the Will Graysons or Tiny Cooper to be honest. It was the relationships between the Will Graysons and Tiny Cooper that I found jarring. Firstly, John Green’s Will Grayson and Tiny Cooper have been friends since primary school. However, it seemed that Tiny took his friend for granted and he has a tendency to be self-centred. This is sort of addressed in the book. Will Grayson also learns that he’s a bore to be around when he’s apathetic about life. I don’t think it gets resolved though but they do remain close friends at the end. The other Will Grayson and Tiny get involved in a clingy relationship which I found nauseating.  Although, I do know that it is normal for young people to fall hard each other especially when it’s your first romance as it was with Will Grayson.

I didn’t like this book but I’m still interested in reading it again someday. I want to know whether my feelings will change after a re-read. Two of John Green’s books Paper Towns and The Fault in their Stars have been turned into movies .I would be interested to watch Will Grayson, Will Grayson if it ever gets adapted into film.


  1. Absent of the subject matter of either story in the book I have seen authors take a great deal of criticism for trying an alternative writing style. Some people consider such concepts gimmicky. I like when writers step outside the bounds of formality and attempt something different, even if it does not always work out to my liking in the end. I respect the risk. Like anything though it's tougher to start that way as a writer and make your name.

    They obviously settled on the same names for characters, and I imagine they settled on the idea of a gay character being central to the story. Even if the stories or characters didn't particularly appeal to you, did you find the character's and their relationships/friendships to be believable or did they come off as too contrived?

  2. I found the relationships and the plot to be contrived. I have come to terms with the fact that I must not like John Green as a writer.


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