Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Pages : 338
Genre : YA, Fiction, Romance
Stand alone (companion to Anna and the French Kiss)
My Rating : 4,5/5
What it’s about :
Lola has a fantastic musician boyfriend, too amazing dads and a great passion for fashion. Her life seems perfect – that is, until the Bell twins come back to the house next door.
Lola has tons of memories of Cricket and Calliope; once upon a time, Cricket was a friend. A really good friend. Until something happened that changed everything. Now faced with the past she would rather forget, Lola must decide whether she wants to reconcile with Cricket – and how.
My Thoughts :
A year ago, on October 26th, I was reading the last pages of the amazing Lola and the Boy Next Door. This book confirmed what my heart already knew from reading Anna and the French Kiss ; I was in love with Stephanie Perkins’ writing. Even though I liked this second book a tiny bit less than the first, I still loved everything in it.
Starting with Lola. Not being a fan of novels focusing exclusively on romance, I need my characters to have more in their lives than simply daydreaming about their love interests. Lola has that; her love for unique fashion certainly competes with her boy romance, and colors every page with original outfits – wigs included! It was so refreshing to have a character who has a strong passion for something, and to be confident in it, too.
The romance itself was adorable. Predictable, yes, but I think predictability somewhat defines romance in novels. We know where the characters are going; we just want to know how they will! Lola and Cricket – seriously though, Cricket? That’s a name!? I had a doll that was called Cricket when I was a kid and… ok, back on topic! – so, Lola and Cricket really are a cute pair. There is chemistry between them from the start. I don’t know how Perkins does it, but she writes cute like few authors can (though many try!)
I did feel it took Lola a bit of time to untangle the relationships in her life, but at the same time, it made sense. As a teen, you don’t have much experience with life and love; I’ve seen adults do similar mistakes, too. I think this will allow readers of all ages to relate with Lola and the questioning she goes through, all the while rooting for Cricket and her.
Also, thumbs up for her two amazing dads. I loved the family they had, how protective they were of her, and how them being a gay couple wasn’t such a big issue in the book. It was presented as normal, no fuss was made about it. I think we need a balance in fiction: while there is a need for books that address the LGBT issues directly, I think it is also good to sometimes have a lighter side to it. (I hope I’m making sense here!)
So, there’s nothing really negative to say about this book! Stephanie Perkins writes the type of romance I would have loved as a teen, and still love as an adult. If such a thing is possible, I’d say she makes me feel 16 in a good way!
If you’ve read and liked Anna, then you’ll probably enjoy this one. Anna and St-Clair do make a few apparitions, but there really is no need of having read the first book to enjoy Lola. Although, you really should read Anna. Now. Go!
Perkins’ new book, Isla and the Happily Ever After will be available in May of 2013. That is way too long to wait if you ask me, so meanwhile, please excuse me if I go rereading my favorite passages of the books.
From the back of the book :
It’s been one year since all the adults disappeared. Gone.
Despite the hunger and the lies, even despite the plague, the kids of Perdido Beach are determined to survive. Creeping into the tenuous new world they’ve built, though, is perhaps the worst incarnation yet of the enemy known as the Darkness: fear.
Within the FAYZ, life breaks down while the Darkness takes over, literally—turning the dome-world of the FAYZ entirely black. In darkness, the worst fears of all emerge, and the cruelest of intentions are carried out. But even in their darkest moments, the inhabitants of the FAYZ maintain a will to survive and a desire to take care of the others in their ravaged band that endures, no matter what the cost.
My Thoughts :
I feel like I have been doing some complaining even in my positive reviews lately, but I have to say : I feel like Michael Grant’s Gone series needs to end soon. Sure, Fear was fun, scary at times, complex with characters. But even though the book had a lot going on, I felt a bit bit tired of it all. I am ready for the big reveal, the conclusion that will give us final answers and let the characters at peace, finally.
Fear innovates from the previous books with a very particular twist that I think most fans of the series will enjoy : finally, we are taken outside the dome, and we get to see what is/might be happening. We meet knew characters, but we also get a better understanding of what is going on. This certainly kept me reading, along with the strong story line.
For me, Michael Grant really is the “Stephen King for teens”. Like the king, it is not his writing that makes his books so captivating; it’s the constant action, unpredictable twists and fantastically complex characters. Astrid is, from my point of view, the one who changed the most since the start of the story. In Fear, she seemed to have a new understanding of herself, but also of what their lives have become since the adults disappeared. She sure has been annoying at times, but as a reader, her adventure was one of the most rewarding.
As the series go on, it becomes more and more difficult to review the books without spoiling anything, but here is what I can say : Grant excels at making the story new with every book, rather than using again and again the same plot devices. It’s a thrill! But in some places, I did feel that the book was dragging a little. And this is why, while I would still recommend the series, I can’t say I’m feeling the love for it right now. But I’ll certainly be reading Light, which should finally conclude this epic journeu! And I just know Grant will have more surprises in store for his readers.
Series Reading Order :
For more Wordless Wednesday, click here!
What it’s about :
Anna is gone, and yet Cas can’t forget her.
When he starts seeing her again in unexpected places, Cas first thinks he might be going crazy. But what if he wasn’t? What if Anna needed him?
As his quest for answers takes him and his friends on the other side of the ocean, Cas discovers he knows very little about his special abilities, and the world beyond ours. Saving Anna might prove to be more difficult than expected…
My Thoughts :
I know the reviews for Girl of Nightmares have been mostly raving ones. Many readers said it was even better than the first book, Anna Dressed in Blood. Therefore, I went in with some expectations, and I am not sure they were met – even though it was a deeply captivating, creepy read. It’s true that I read it over a longer period of time than I usually do for books of this length (about 3 weeks), and that I read it in a really busy time of my life; it might have dimmed my enjoyment of the book slightly.
This being said, I still had a good time and would read more by Kendare Blake in a heartbeat. Girl of Nightmares is as creepy as its predecessor.
Scratch that; Girl of Nightmares is even more creepy than its predecessor!
Which is a good thing if, like me, you enjoy dark, twisted and eerie environments (in books – in real life, I prefer my hallways very, very well lit).
Blake really excels at creating a dark, oppressing atmosphere without losing sight of the characters’ intentions or the plot. She lightens the scenes with dark humor, and makes her characters even more complex than before. It’s not often in YA paranormal fiction that I feel the characters are realistic, but Cas, Thomas and Carmel all felt very real to me.
I thought the story had a bit of an uneven pace, but it was intriguing. I wasn’t sure what would come out of Cas and his friends’ adventure. Once they were on the other side of the ocean, it was much more entertaining to me. It felt good to meet new characters, and to see what was happening in the ghost-hunting world somewhere else than in America.
I felt the conclusion was just right. Anna is only a two books series, which gave the story enough place to develop, without too many lulls or unnecessary secondary plots. When it finally ended, it had just enough emotion, horror and surprises. It was both expected and unexpected, which is the best kind of ending.
In the end, even though Anna didn’t blow me away, I would not hesitate to recommend it to fans of horror, ghosts and dark humor. Blake certainly is a talented writer who knows how to take the readers on an incredibly creepy journey!
Series Reading Order :
- Anna Dressed in Blood
- Girl of Nightmares