Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Author: John Green, David Levithan
Publisher: Brilliance Audio, April 6, 2010
Format: 7 audio discs, 7 hrs and 52 mins
Narrators: MacLeod Andrews, Nick Podehl
Source: Purchased from Audible.com
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.
Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both them both legions of faithful fans.
Where do I start with this one? Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a lot of things: funny, sad, heartbreaking, true, romantic, sweet, loud, and so much more. Let me start by saying I had no idea what the story was about. That’s right, I went into the book without knowing anything about it. It’s gotten fantastic reviews, and I just finished something by David Levithan that I really liked, so I figured that was good enough for me.
So the bad thing is, when I started, I didn’t realize it was told from two different point of views. And I also didn’t realize that it was narrated by two different people, so when the second chapter started, I thought “Wow, Will sure did change all of a sudden. And why does the narrator’s voice sound so different?” (Yeah, I’m not so swift.) So, after finally reading the book description, I realized what was going on and could actually enjoy the story. And boy did I.
I liked the two Will Graysons as characters, though I preferred WG#1. He was kinder than WG#2, who had a bad attitude and was especially vicious to his mother for no clear reason. WG#1’s bestie, Tiny Cooper, was something, he was practically the star of the book. He was big, loud and proud. He was self-centered and completely unapologetic about it.
Tiny is talking about his blinding light spiritual awakening in a way that, nothing against Tiny, kind of implies that maybe Tiny has not fully internalized the idea that the earth does not spin around the axis of Tiny Cooper.
He was hard to like at first, but he eventually grew on me. All of the other characters were unique and interesting. No one-dimensional people here. They all had their own flaws and personality traits that made them so believable. Nobody was perfect or flawless or always said and did the right thing. The dialogue was full of cussing, and some of it felt unnecessary, but otherwise, I liked the way the kids talked to each other. They were real and (most of the time) honest. The story was full of one-liners and sarcasm that made me happy. There were several occasions where I laughed out loud and even once or twice I had to replay something I had missed because I was laughing too loud to hear it.
The plot was interesting; it focused mostly on the Wills (and Tiny), but also their friends, school, partying, and the choices they made in all of those areas. It really flew by, although there were maybe one or two spots I thought could have been whittled down for a more streamlined story. There was also a bit at the end I didn’t feel added anything to the story or the characters. It was supposed to be a big learning moment for Tiny, but I didn’t get it. It just seemed silly and pointless to me.
The narrators were amazing. They sounded similar, but once you know there are two different Wills (duh, Andrea), they were easy to tell apart and the two voices make it easy to know which Will was speaking in that chapter. They became the Wills so perfectly and completely, I can’t imagine anyone else playing those parts.
One of the plot lines involved Tiny and the musical he created. Throughout the novel, and at the end, songs were performed by the students. The narrators did such a fabulous job of bringing those songs to life, I can’t imagine reading the novel and not knowing how the songs sound “in real life.”
Funny and touching, this is a one-of-a-kind gem. I highly recommend the audio version, you would be missing out on a lot if you skipped it.