Thursday, July 4, 2013

Book 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 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.

You remember my glowing, gushing, girly review for Anna And The French Kiss, right?  If not, or if you need a refresher, here’s the gist of it; Omg St. Clair! *massive fangirl attack*  It’s like…I can’t even…. JUST READ THIS BOOK!!!  Lola is the companion novel to Anna, and I fully expected to go gaga over Cricket and Lola’s slow-burn romance to a similar degree that I did St. Clair and Anna’s.

That…didn’t happen.

Now I’ll fully admit that this book suffers significantly for being in the shadow of its predecessor.  I probably judged it more harshly for that reason, expected more from it, and ultimately had a more negative reaction to it than I would have had it been a debut or completely unrelated novel.  But the fact remains that I was completely underwhelmed and unimpressed by Lola And The Boy Next Door.

The biggest issue I have with this book is its narrator.  Lola is a spoiled brat, a liar and a tease.  She has a boyfriend at the start of this novel who isn’t Cricket Bell (hello, repeated plot device!), but when the boy she used to adore moves back to the house next to hers, things begin to get a bit…complicated.  And by complicated I mean drawn out, predictable, and boring.  Based off of the title alone, we know when we open the first page who Lola’s “true lurve” is going to be by the end of the book.  I knew this, and as with Anna, I was okay with it.  I expected the journey to be worth the predictable ending.  But it wasn’t.  Lola immediately comes off as an immature child who has no idea what real problems are, and has no idea that the entire world doesn’t revolve around her and her kooky wardrobe.  There were repeated instances in this book when she would lie to her current boyfriend about Cricket, and then get all whiny and mad when Max (plot-device boyfriend) called her out on it.  I mean, really?  Grow up, Lola!  On top of that, she would simultaneously lead poor nerdy-good-guy Cricket along on a string, like a replacement puppy sitting outside of her door waiting for the current one to tinkle on Lola’s foot and be kicked to the curb.  Lola is the type of girl I hate in real life, so to be stuck inside of her head for nearly 400 pages was torture.

Shitty MC aside, the romance in this book left a lot to be desired.  Within the first hundred pages, Cricket confesses his undying love to Lola, so right off the bat we have half of the romantic tension drained like a popped balloon.  So we’re left with 300 pages of Lola’s lying, whining, and internalizing, the whole time absolutely positive what her final decision will be.  There was no magic, no doubt or passion propelling the story.  It was just flat.

Cricket himself isn’t so bad, but his insistence on Lola as his future mate made me respect him a whole hell of a lot less.  The dude really needed to grow a pair and kick that girl to the side in pursuit of less emotionally unstable and more loyal and honest girls.  In fact, Cricket is such an obvious good guy that the whole idea of him and Lola getting together felt forced and unrealistic. There was little to no chemistry between the two.  Max, the other guy in Lola’s life, is pretty darn awesome in my opinion.  He did call Lola on her bullshit, he didn’t let her lead him along, and ultimately, he told her what she needed to hear – albeit in a rather douchey way.  Yet he’s supposed to be the “bad guy” in the relationship by the end.  Puh-lease.

The actual writing is really good, though, and despite all of the major flaws with the book it calls you back to read more.  It’s rare when a book that I hate is so hard to put down, but Lola And The Boy Next Door was that kind of read for me.  There is no doubting Perkins’ writing ability, but there were so many elements with this companion novel that didn’t work that it’s still a total disappointment.  I’ll probably read Isla And The Happily Ever After just because I still have faith in this author, but I’m going to set my standards way lower than they were with Lola.  Hopefully I’ll be pleasantly surprised, but at least I won’t be crushingly disappointed.

Lola And The Boy Next Door - 2 out of 5 stars

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