Friday, 11 July 2014

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

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 neighbourhood.
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.

So you know how much I loved ‘Anna and the French Kiss’? I have a terrible confession to make, I really didn’t enjoy ‘Lola and the Boy Next Door’. And I feel terrible because everyone was saying how if I loved the first one then the second one was just going to blow me away, and really how couldn’t I love the second one given my feelings about the first? But whilst there were some awesome elements to Lola, she just didn’t do it for me in the same way that Anna did.

The problem for me was Lola herself. Whilst Anna was an engaging and fantastic narrator, Lola came across as incredibly immature and a little whiny. I loved the idea of Lola, she was feisty and didn’t conform and had her own very unique sense of self and didn’t let anybody crush that or take it away from her. All fantastic things that I really loved, but they just didn’t come across as they should have done. It was all very dramatic and over the top, completely over blown until it stopped feeling like it could be real, it was almost a caricature of the ideas.

Lola is desperate to be seen as unique and mature, but the overblown costumes actually detracted from that. I think there was a balance of costuming that could have really made the idea work, but there were moments that tipped her over from spunky individual, to young teenage girl craving attention. Which only served to highlight the terrible relationship with her boyfriend, Max. I didn’t see the attraction of Max at all, the whole way through the book he gave me the creeps and I just desperately wanted to get Lola away from him, so again a lot of the tension and drama of the story vanished with my dislike of this character.

I also struggled with the portrayal of Lola’s family life. The demands that she had to call and check in with her parent’s every hour? I felt like they were treating her like a much younger girl and it made a lot of the book feel less realistic. I know why it was done like that, but instead of adding to the story and making me feel for Lola, I just found it frustrating and threw me out of the story instead.

Cricket was essentially the redeeming factor of the book. I loved him. He was sweet and funny and added a much needed breath of fresh air to the story. When Lola had such an extreme reaction to Cricket’s return I was expecting to hate him, for him to have done something so awful that I wouldn’t be able to like him. But it turned out that he hadn’t really done anything, just been a boy and not communicated, but nothing so terrible that it deserved the reaction Lola gave. And I loved him. I just wish that I could have connected to Lola in the same way.

So whilst this book didn’t even remotely compare to ‘Anna’ I did still enjoy it, just not nearly as much as I was expecting to. I’m still very excited for the third book ‘Isla and the Happily Ever After’ which is out next month. If you enjoyed ‘Anna and the French Kiss’ though I do recommend giving Lola a go, because I am definitely in the minority who didn’t enjoy it and even if you don’t connect with Lola, you’ve still got Cricket and the reappearance of Anna and St Clair to see you through. And we've got the setup to see all of the favourites back in the next book.

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