Monday, 21 November 2011

Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins.


Product details:
Publisher: Dutton.
Hardcover, 338 pages.
Release date: September 29th 2011.
Rating: 3½ out of 5.
Ages: YA.

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

A bittersweet tale of love and loss, and learning to love again, Stephanie Perkins Lola and the Boy Next Door, a companion novel to 2010’s heart-warming Anna and the French Kiss, is both whimsical and wistful telling the story of budding fashion designer Lola Nolan as she deals with family fall outs, older boyfriends and the reappearance of Cricket, the boy next door who broke her heart.  Lola’s world is quirky and cute, but it is missing the relatable qualities of Anna and the French Kiss. Perkins again presents to us a tale that is wonderfully written, engaging and witty, but her second novel lacks a little of the magic that made her first forever unforgettable.

In any book enjoyment of the text will often hinge on how well a reader can relate to its characters, and I feel this statement is true especially in relation to this book, and most important in the discussion of the character of Lola.   Unfortunately for me, right from the start, I didn’t relate to Lola, I just couldn’t find any common ground between us.  It’s not that she’s an unlikeable person per se, although she is a little too try hard for my liking, it’s just that we never clicked. While I love that she is a very unique character, quirky, dramatic, and with an extremely unconventional sense of style through which she expresses herself, it is also this which partly makes her difficult to connect with. 

Then there’s the issue of Max, Lola’s boyfriend who at five years older than her is pretty much hated by Lola’s parents, her two dads who certainly have nothing good to say about him, even though he makes every effort to endear himself to them. It doesn’t work, and when Cricket moves back in next door, Lola’s dads couldn’t be more delighted. They want her to be rid of her pot smoking rock star boyfriend, and in his place, they want Cricket Bell, a little shy and a little awkward, he’s a self-confessed geek, and the boy Lola has been in love with forever. So, really, Max didn’t stand a chance, but there were certain elements added to his character as the story progressed that seemed very contrived and that I took issue with. As a love interest, Cricket might have worked for Lola’s dads, but he just didn’t work for me. The appearance of Étienne St. Clair in this book didn’t do Cricket any favours either. I know some people have fallen for Cricket Bell, but I am all about St. Clair, and whenever he appeared on these pages I was all like ‘Cricket who?’  This brings me to the name situation, which has to be addressed. I am preoccupied with names in books, and I place far too much importance on them, I know, but how am I meant to find a name like Cricket appealing? Étienne St. Clair had me swooning, but Cricket Bell? Er, no.

So, while St. Clair stole the show from Cricket, he’s not all perfect here either. I know him and Anna and all loved up and besotted with each other, but they are literally stuck to each other like glue in this book.  I’ll forgive them, as I guess they’re still in that glorious honeymoon period of their relationship, although I preferred when they were all angsty and conflicted and desperate for that kiss!!

 While LOLA didn’t work for me quite as well as ANNA did, I’m not sure that any contemporary romance ever will. That glorious Parisian setting and the dreamiest of dreamiest boys were always going to be heard to beat. In Lola and the Boy Next Door the action has moved to San Francisco, and I admit that just like I knew I would, I missed Paris so much. The city of love came to life on the pages of Anna and the French Kiss and was the perfect backdrop to the story of Anna and Étienne. I’m excited to hear that Perkins is taking her characters back to Paris in Isla and the Happy Ever After, the third and final companion book in this set, which releases next year. I’m looking forward to taking that trip!

13 comments :

  1. I felt the same way about Lola...it was entertaining, but it wasn't as good as Anna. You are right about Paris being such a dreamy setting. I definitely can't wait to read Isla and revisit Paris as well. Great review!

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  2. I actually kind of liked Lola more than Anna, but I related more Lola's need for artistic expression. Plus, I loved how real Perkins made her characters here, with their little quirks (like the rubber bands on Cricket's wrists).

    To each their own, I guess! :)


    Smiles!
    Lori

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  3. This book definitely had a lot to live up by following a book that is so well loved. And certainly San Fran is no Paris! I still need to read this one, I'll have to keep my expectations in check! :)

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  4. Aww sorry you didn't like this one as much! I loved Cricket - think he is absolutely gorgeous and a sweetheart - and while I loved St Clair as well, it was his name that irritated me lol and the whole issue with him stringing to girls along was a big black mark as well. I just adore the romance in Stephanie's books so I can't wait to see if this last one (sadface) is as good!

    Amy @ Turn the Page

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  5. Aww shame you couldn't connect with Lola I hate when that happens! I plan to read this soon I hope I can connect with her more. Great review, Leanna!

    Giselle
    Xpresso Reads

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  6. I've seen a few people say the same thing about Lola! I'm not sure what I'll think - I really loved Anna and could relate to her a lot, so I already feel like Lola won't be able to live up to m expectations. Sorry you didn't like it as much as Anna and the French Kiss - thanks for the review! :)

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  7. I didn't like this one quite as much as Anna either for many of the reasons you stated, but I did enjoy Cricket:) I wish she had given us some explanation for his name though, I kept thinking it was nickname or something but I feel like his parents actually named him that. Whuh. I love the way Stephanie tells a story though and I can't wait to read whatever she comes out with next. Awesome review Leanna, it was fun reading your thoughts:)

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  8. While I would agree that Lola wasn't as good Anna and the French Kiss, I did like Lola and adored her family. Sorry this one didn't work for you. Still I love Perkins writing and will be anxious to see where she takes us next time!

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  9. I didn't like ANNA that much *hides* so I have high hopes for LOLA :D

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  10. I loved Anna so I am hoping that I will love this book as well. So far, there has been a lot of mixed reviews on it.

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  11. Before reading this book I've only seen reviews telling how amazing this book was, how great and sexy Cricket was, how they could relate to Lola so easily..
    To say that I just felt out of place would be an understatement.

    It was definitely not bad, as I found it quite enjoyable, but I really didn't find it as great as they said. I loved "Anna..." a lot more, and the characters were better in that one, in my opinion.

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  12. I liked Lola better than you did but I agree with almost everything you said. The thing that kept me from liking Lola better than Anna was Max. I wanted to slap her for putting up with such a jerk. But I felt like it was realistic to a way many insecure and immature teenage girls would react to a "cool" boyfriend like him. I loved Cricket, but he definitely is no Etienne. I liked that he was a "boy." So many YA love interests are more men than teenage boys. It's refreshing to see someone real.

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  13. I just got this book in the mail, and I can't wait to read it! It's time for me to see what all this hype is about!

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