Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Will Grayson and The Boy Next Door: My Fav YA Contemporaries

I'm writing this post after ringing in the new year with a glass of champagne and a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity, so please forgive any shoddy wordmanship. I'm tired.

Victorious! I have won the battle against my hair. This time.
(Sorry. I just felt like writing a weird caption.)


I believe I'd mentioned that I had a sudden overwhelming desire to write a YA contemporary (as opposed to a sci fi or fantasy which is my more usual fare.) Well, today I'm going to talk about two YA Contemporary books that helped inspire me.

The Wills

First is Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. As a warning, my comments may include a mild spoiler.

I picked up this book and was instantly drawn to the characters. The book follows the stories of two different teens named Will Grayson who live in the vicinity of Chicago. We start off with the first Will (let's call him Will #1) saying that his dad said you can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose. Will goes on to say that he doesn't think this is true. He did not pick his best friend. The chapter ends with him having to pick the nose of his best friend, which is pretty darn clever.

Will #1's best friend is named Tiny (it's an ironic sort of name because Tiny is actually quite huge and, incidentally, quite gay). By the end of the first chapter which I thought was so clever, I said to myself, "I really hope that by the end Will # 1 feels like he chose Tiny as his best friend and doesn't feel like his best-friendship has simply been imposed upon him." Tiny is pretty darn awesome, and let's just say that the end of this book left me feeling very satisfied.

So, in other words, by the end of the first chapter, I knew exactly what I really wanted to happen by the end. And it did. That takes some pretty clever foreshadowing and character development on the part of the authors.

I probably ought to mention that this book is really funny in places because I'm sure the sarcasm and humor are a big part of why I liked this book so much. And the happy ending. I love a happy ending.

Lola

After about a million recommendations, I finally read Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. The titles are a dead giveaway, but I'll spell it out anyway. These are YA Contemporary Romances. And a ton of fun. I enjoyed both, but I loved Lola and Cricket (the Boy) more.

I'm not entirely certain why I fell in love with Lola so much more. Anna is a cool girl, and her book takes place in Paris, so you get something of a guided tour through one of the most popular cities in the world. It's definitely a fun read.

But Lola is a book I'll probably re-read a few times (or more). Lola is outrageous and creative and wears the most insane outfits. Her name is actually Delores, but she decided to rename herself when she was little. She's got two overprotective dads, and a real talent with a needle and thread.

And then there's Cricket. Cricket is freaking adorable and clever and thoughtful, and he has crazy hair that sticks up all of its own accord.

I'm not sure how to better articulate what made this story stand out for me. Maybe it was the characters. Maybe it was the setting (San Francisco may not be quite as exotic as Paris, but it's still a world apart from my own, and it's a lot of fun to explore through this book). Maybe it was just that both Cricket and Lola are very creative, and I really enjoyed finding out what they'd create next. Whatever it was, this book is definitely a keeper.

That's It

So those are two of the books that have helped inspire my sudden desire to write a Contemporary YA. I only hope that my work does both of these inspirations some justice. Because it sure would be cool to finally land an agent and a book contract. But, no matter what happens, I am very glad I read these wonderful books.

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