Friday, April 30, 2010

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
written by John Green and David Levithan

I don't know if I can properly express my love for this book. I'm a proud nerdfighter, so I've been looking forward to the day when John Green's new book would be coming out ever since I first heard about its existence. Upon reading it, I was kind of shocked. Sure, John Green's Will Grayson was a really great character...but David Levithan's will grayson, David Levithan, whose only other work I've read was a short story in Geektastic, made me want to jump into the book and give him a massive shower of hugs. And while John Green is responsible for the creation of Tiny Cooper, it's David Levithan's Tiny that really goes places. So anyways, one of the best things about these two authors is their authenticity. It's like they've grown up without having lost their teenage selves, and are fully able to capture those teenage emotions and write them into an emotionally moving story.
Give me another moment to fangirl over will grayson. I know many people have expressed an intense dislike of David's will's inability to use the shift key. But here's the thing: when depression strikes, it honestly feels like your universal shift key is missing, like nothing you can say deserves capitalization, or in a weird way, recognition and ownership. Your proper nouns are not important enough to be capitalized. So I found myself really relating to that lack of capitalization. Simply speaking, David Levithan broke my heart with will grayson, especially after bringing Tiny Cooper into will's story.
John's contribution to the story was okay, but I felt like it was the same John Green formula we've all seen already. Typical teenage guy, with his larger-than-life sidekick that takes him on a wild journey through the big wide wonderful world. The Love Interest, Jane, bored the heck out of me, and overall, though the writing was predictably spectacular, I was just disinterested in Will Grayson and his story.
I did not want this book to end. I felt like it incorporated every possible teenage high school problem that teens, real teens, have at some point had to deal with. I don't think it's possible to finish this book without wanting your own personal Tiny Cooper.
Anyone else desperately wishing for a soundtrack to this, with big, cheesy, over-the-top musical numbers? Youtube musical theater nerdfighters, get on that!

Rating: 5/5

Related reviews:
Paper Towns
Looking for Alaska
An Abundance of Katherines

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hello, World!

Hi everyone! I'm back!

Sooo, spring semester kicked my butt, needless to say. It's finally done as of yesterday, and I'm really glad to be [hopefully] back to blogging on a regular schedule. No guarantees, as I'm taking a "Maymester" at my school, where I have classes running through the 21st of May, but...oh, I really hope it lasts, I miss blogging soooo much!

So to kick off this rebirth of my blog, I'd actually like to go through an author event I attended last night! I went to my local library and got to see Lisa McMann, author of Wake, Fade, and Gone. I haven't read the third, but I did read the first two and LOVED them.

So let's see, I got to the library around 45 minutes before the event started. I returned a few books and checked some more out (including one by David Levithan!). I killed some time until the event, and then spent a good deal of time trying to find the location of this classroom where the event was going to be held.

I did find it eventually, it was being held in one of the museum's classrooms (our library is attached to the natural history & art museums). That was kind of cute, since there was an adorable picture of a dinosaur on the whiteboard.

We started the event as soon as Boothy (!!!) got there. We got the lecture about the sponsors of the event (PPG Industries) and they talked about some of the other authors they had hosted, which included Ned Vizzini, Hank & John (!!!!), Maureen Johnson, Avi, and David Levithan. With that being said, the librarian, Karen Brooks-Reese, introduced Lisa McMann!

Yesterday was a chilly day in Pittsburgh, so she opened the event talking about how she is from Arizona, where they are enjoying nice 95 degree weather. I don't think I could have been any more jealous at that moment. She also talked about being in Pittsburgh 20 years ago, and remembering our iconic bridges.

Lots of the questions she took the time to answer have been talked about on website (which kind of bothers me, as I feel it could be time better spent, but whatever, apparently that's just me :P) We had the obligatory "Why are you a writer/how does one get published/I am desperate to become a writer even though I probably haven't even written a book yet tell me how to do it because I'm not original enough to figure it out myself!1!!one!!" questions. (Am I being irrationally snarky? Probably. Sorry. This is one of my biggest pet peeves though, those writing questions. Google. Use it, people.)

I'm sorry if you're familiar with Lisa McMann and some of this information is repetitive, but here's what she took the time to talk about:
-She got the idea for Wake from a dream she had, about being in her husband's dream. This was one of the few times she wrote and later read her notes about her dream and thought it was a really interesting concept that could be expanded upon.
-Her original idea involved spying on people's dreams for revenge, but she felt stuck with that plot thread, so she then went to the idea of what if this was uncontrollable, what if the person traveling through dreams didn't even want to be doing so? And from there we got the trilogy we now know!
-She went through and summarized the books, which I'm not going to do, since you can find those at a countless number of places.
-She read an excerpt of Wake.

-She addressed questions, based on a system of which question received the largest applause. The clear favorite was a question about most embarrassing moments. For those, she began with some audience stories to sort of break the ice. We heard stories about accidentally sitting on a classmates head, walking around school with split pants (a story where a girl was ratted out by her father who was also attending, no less!), and a story about two people literally colliding into each other while they were reading in the halls. McMann then segued into her own story, which was about being in English class, sitting in the back corner, sneezing, and having a bit of a snot problem, resulting in the nickname "Gort Snort", as Gort was her last name at the time. She also told a story about wearing a snap button shirt and having that yanked open accidentally by a person she strongly disliked.

She then took the time to discuss her covers. Apparently, she had no say over the Wake cover, but loved it anyways. For Fade, she was given "consultation rights", where she'd basically be asked her opinion, and whatever it was, it'd essentially be ignored, but she'd still be asked. This resulted in a little bit of pink being removed from the cover before publication. For Gone, she was actually given the option of taking pictures of any chairs she found interesting. What is now the cover of that book is actually a photo she took on her cell phone!

She got a question about how books get turned into movies as well as the general publishing process, which, again, Google if you're interested.

She talked a little bit about her early promotion process, and how she'd reach out to fans of paranormal YA before Wake got published, on MySpace. She'd friend-request people she thought might enjoy her book and told them a little bit about it, which she says went a long way.

She also said that Janie & Cabel's story has been told, and she doesn't at the moment plan on telling more.

She was asked about what she was currently working on, which was a good transition to her reading from her two upcoming novels. She's going to have two books out in 2011, a YA Paranormal entitled Cryer's Cross about a girl's disappearance and its aftermath, out in February. The other novel is a dystopian fantasy, due out in fall 2011. This one is about a society where strength and intelligence are valued in teens, and artistic and imaginative personalities are punishable by death.

The final question asked about her process for coming up with character names. For Janie, she was just looking for an ordinary sounding name. For Cabel, a boy in her son's 3rd grade class inspired that unusual name. She also brought up the sort of "Cain and Abel" feel it has. Sometimes she just hits the baby name books for ideas, the name of 'Kendall' in Cryer's Cross was actually auctioned off, and some names are given with intended meanings in mind.

We then lined up to get our books signed (everyone who attended got a copy of Wake and Fade for free, which was kind of awesome, even though I had brought my own copy of Wake). I talked to a young lady from University of Pittsburgh, who had JUST read Lisa McMann's books and had found out about the event literally half an hour before it occurred! So awesome :D I got my books signed and got to briefly talk to her, and also got a picture taken with her:

Anddd then I basically ran out of there, because I was too much of a coward to actually talk to Boothy. Which is pretty sad, since I've been wanting to meet him since the good old Meg Cabot Book Club days. Ah well. All in all, a pretty wonderful experience :)

Alright lovely readers, that's where I end this one. I can't wait to share my thoughts on some awesome new books with you all :) [Hint: Um. I really truly appreciate the heck out of Tiny Cooper, and I can't wait to fangirl all about it!] Talk to you all tomorrow!