(Review) LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins


All month long, Ashley from Books From Bleh to Basically Amazing and Shanyn from Chicks Love Lit are hosting an epic event entitled Just Contemporary.

There are all kinds of goodies, from giveaways to reviews to guest posts and author interviews. Ashley is also doing a round-up of Contemporary reviews and features on other blogs each week, so get in touch with her if you post anything!



Title: LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Release Date: Out now (Sept. 29, 2011)
Publisher: Dutton/Penguin
Received: Purchased

SUMMARY:

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.


Let me get this out of the way right now: My review is probably going to be in the minority. Everyone else seems to think that LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR is the second coming, the best thing since sliced bread, better than its predecessor, ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS (my review). While I found LOLA to be enjoyable, to me, it was in no way, shape, or form better than ANNA. I thought it would be. I wanted it to be. I've been hearing that this book is more amazing since BEA. And maybe that was the problem. This book was so hyped up that I didn't love it as much as I thought I would. (It could also be that this was one of the first books I read after finishing Erin Morgenstern's mind-blowingly amazing THE NIGHT CIRCUS, easily one of the best books I've ever read...no book should be read after that.) To make sure this wasn't just in my head, I grabbed ANNA off my shelf and went back to re-read certain parts...and wound up re-reading the whole book. I was enamored and it wasn't put down as easily as LOLA was. So to me, ANNA won. But LOLA does have a charm of its own.

The book centers around Lola, a girl into designing crazy costumes/ensembles for herself. Some of her fellow classmates think she's weird, while others call her original. Lola doesn't care what anyone thinks. She used to such appraisal, having grown up in a household with two loving fathers, and knows her own mind. She even ignores the fact that her dads would prefer that she stopped dating her 22-year-old boyfriend, Max, because she's only 17. She sees all kinds of awesome traits in him that her overprotective parents can't. Her life is going the way she wants until twins Calliope and Cricket move back next door. She's always had a less-than-amicable relationship with Calliope, and Cricket has always been the one person able to break her heart. With their return, life as Lola knows it begins to turn upside down.

I think what I loved best about Stephanie Perkins' first book is the ambiance of Paris, the tight bond between friends, and the relationship that slowly blooms between Anna and √Čtienne. It was weird seeing them return in LOLA in secondary roles and at times, giving readers more scenes with their beloved couple seemed to take away from the relationships forming for Lola. I think that in the end, this is what made me love this book less. I wasn't as invested in Lola's plight. Cricket got less page time than most male leads tend to. In a way, former boyfriend Max got more time, and not always in a good way. There were multiple topics at play in this book, and while normally I like having a relationship on the back burner because it's not the only topic, this time around, I thought there was too little. At the same time, I really enjoyed Perkins' signature style in developing characters. Lola is quirky and fun and I enjoyed seeing a strong parental unit since so many YA novels are lacking in this regard. I would have liked to see more of Cricket. The name alone has me wanting more! Seriously, how awesome is the name Cricket? I still enjoy Perkins as a writer and am already looking forward to next year's concluding companion novel ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER, which will return readers to the Paris we all fell in love with.


COVER DESIGN:

These covers are not my favorite. Are they fun? Yes. Are they designs that scream, "Hide me so my co-workers don't laugh?" Absolutely. They're so...girly. And sweet and fluffy and...pastel. I passed ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS several times on the shelf. The cover looked like a typical romance, which was reiterated by the title. It was only after the blogosphere fell in love with the book and I kept getting recommendations that I picked it up after finding a cheap used copy earlier this year. And I loved it. But I would never pick up these books as a blind buy based on the cover or title alone. The same is true for LOLA, though I do like that the cover designers retained a scripty quality to the title and had the two models with hands close, but not quite touching. On the one hand, I like that the houses are pastel colors because that's how they're described in the novel, but on the other, before reading the book, I thought they looked really fake and girly.

That said, I love the fact that the paperback release of ANNA has gorgeous scalloped French flaps and almost bought a second copy in that format, but then I would have had to wait a year to pick up a matching LOLA!




Comments

  1. Great review! I'm almost relieved to hear even a LITTLE more negative review for one of these books even if you did enjoy it, since everyone seems to absolutely love them both! I still haven't seen a bad one though, so I'm definitely curious. It sucks it didn't live up to the hype for you though!

    On a side note: I feel the same about the covers! Haha, if not everyone seemed to love these so much, I'm not sure I'd pick them up. I know, I'm bad! But they are exactly what you said, lol.

    I hope you like the third one better!

    Rebecca (Kindle Fever)

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  2. Aww! I'm bummed that you didn't love this one as much as you'd expected to! I really liked both books but did like Lola a little better. But I also LOVED the Parisian setting of Anna. :)

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  3. Amen to they hype thing!! This book has been getting praise since MONTHS before it even was close to coming out so when I did come out I had such high expectations, so high they were immppsoble to fulfill. Like you said, I would have loved some more cricket time!! We barely got anything of him and I did love Lola's parents, they rocked<3

    -thank you&come again.

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