I’ve said this before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, John Green is a fantastic author and while this is the first of David Levithan I’ve ever read, he did not disappoint. If I didn’t already have a gigantic pile of books waiting to be read right now I would have immediately bought another of his books and be halfway done with it. As it is, he’s on my list of authors to keep in mind. Will Grayson Will Grayson was written by both John Green and David Levithan. There are two characters named Will Grayson with alternating chapters and each author was in charge of his own Will. (pun intended…as always)
The only other book that jumps to mind when I think of something that is written by two people is Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I read that book so long ago that in order to truly speak about it I’d have to go back and reread but I do remember that it was all one story written collaboratively. That is not how this book is set up. This is two alternating stories that happen to cross paths and occasionally wind around each other. John Green and David Levithan have unique and different writing styles and voices, made even more clear by the fact that David Levithan uses no capital letters in his story. A style decision that threw me a little at first but makes a whole lot of sense once I got to know the character. I don’t know if he had this in mind when he made that decision, but seeing a physical difference on the page when moving from one story to the other really helped me switch gears and refocus.
By having two separate stories Will Grayson Will Grayson was really able to cover the full spectrum of high school problems, thoughts, and emotions. Friendship, love, sexuality, depression, there’s even a musical involved, and it never feels any more overwhelming than it’s supposed to. I think if John Green or David Levithan had tackled both stories by themselves it was have too much, fortunately they were there to offset each other. I’ve noticed with John Green’s stories the high schoolers get very deep and philosophical, and that’s fine because they really do make excellent points, but sometimes it sounds less like highschoolers I know and more like one of John Green’s video’s. When I start to feel like this I usually have to set his book down for the evening, but in Will Grayson Will Grayson if I ever felt like that, I knew that the other Will Grayson’s story would begin again soon. It was a nice change of pace. The change of pace worked in both directions. I understand that the dark places that David Levithan’s Will goes are legitimate and felt by many many people, but I tend to absorb enough of what I read that that can really bring me down. Whenever it got to be too much I knew John Green’s section would be there soon. They worked very well together.
For John Green’s part this is as good as anything I’d expect coming from him. He’s set his standard high and he always seems to hit it. David Levithan was a pleasure to discover and I’m very curious what his solo books read like. Together they created some memorable characters (Tiny Cooper…just read the book and try to tell me you don’t love Tiny Cooper) and very emotional stories. Even if Young Adult Fiction isn’t your thing this is worth paging through to experience an interesting joint story telling effort. I like what they’ve done here and hope to see more of it in the future.