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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Publisher: Penguin/Dutton
Published: September 29, 2011
Pages: 338
Source: Bought
Rating: 5 STARS


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.

In short: Like Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins is a fun contemporary with memorable characters and dialogue.
I feel like I could copy and paste my review for Anna and the French Kiss here, change a few character names, and it would work just as well for my review of Lola and the Boy Next Door. Unique, memorable, and loveable characters and fun and meaningful writing and dialogue characterize both Anna and Lola. Several story elements were also similar between the two. But instead of it bothering me that Stephanie Perkins didn't try to do anything too different with Lola, I welcomed the familiar tone, eager to get back into the plots and characters she has crafted.

It's an altogether strange feeling for me, this wanting to escape back to a non-magical, non-supernatural contemporary world. What happened to my exclusive love for bleak, well developed dystopian worlds or whimsical, fantastical ones? Well, I may be a bit dystopian and fantas-ied out. It was such a refreshing change to read about the everyday problems of life and relationships. And just because it's contemporary doesn't mean the problems faced by the characters are any less interesting than those faced by characters in dystopians or fantasies. I was completed hooked and interested in the plot and the characters from page 1.

Though I was able to relate more to Anna personally, that does not mean I liked Lola any less as a character. I loved her quirkyness, her bravery to be herself, and her growth from a relatively immature and somewhat selfish girl to a grownup. And don't ask me to choose between St. Clair and Cricket. But I will say that Cricket, in all his nerdy sweetness, is pretty much my ideal book guy. This all being said, I wouldn't say Lola and Cricket's personalities - or anyone else's in Lola, for that matter - are particularly realistic. Stephanie's characters tend to be a bit on the cartoonish side - all with slightly exaggerated character traits and passions - but for me, it works because I have a lot of fun reading about them.

(Side note: What is it about characters with four letter names beginning with L who have a propensity for bold, unapologetic strangeness? In addition to Lola, I'm thinking of course of Luna from Harry Potter and Lily from Dash and Lily's Book of Dares.)

The take home message that I got from reading Lola and the Boy Next Door is that I need to start reading more contemporaries. I know I always say that, but somehow I still never actually carry it through, even though I always enjoy the contemporaries that I do read. It's time now though. I crave more variety in my reading. And I always appreciate recommendations!

Previously, my review of Anna and the French Kiss

Other Reviews:
The Bucket List
Hughes Reviews
Stalking the Bookshelves

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36 comments :

  1. I actually somewhat disliked Lola when I first read it but liked it more upon re-read. My co-blogger loved it though! I get what you mean about cartoonish, I can't really imagine them existing in real life. Especially Cricket and his name! I still can't get over that. It was overall a sweet read. Sarah Dessen wrote two of my fav books, This Lullaby and the Truth About Forever. Have you read those?

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    1. Cricket is a pretty ridiculous name, it's true. I think it kind of started to grow on him though. Glad you liked it more the second go round!

      I am ashamed to admit this, but no, I have never read anything by Sarah Dessen. Her books would be a good place to start, for sure.

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  2. I still haven't read Lola but I loved Anna so I'm not sure why I haven't picked this one up yet.

    As far as contemporaries go I really liked Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley, Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John and anything by Courtney Summers.

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    1. I think you'll love it if you loved Anna!

      Ooh yes, I've heard great things about all of those books multiple times!

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  3. I love this book!!!! You're right that you can basically change the names of your review from Anna. In some ways the book felt formulaic, but I didn't mind at all. It's like Stephanie found the exact right ingredients for a good story and changed from chocolate chips to M&Ms - different but equally good.

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    1. Yeah, well said and great analogy! I'm fine with formulaic when the formula is so awesome. I'm curious to see if Isla will also be similar - I have a feeling it will be.

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  4. And I love Cricket, but I think Etienne has my heart.

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    1. I really and truly love them both!

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  5. I don't read a lot of contemporary YA either, but I adored Lola & Boy Next Door. (I liked Anna too, but this one will be my fav.) I completely agree with you about the characters being on the "cartoonish" side. I think it's because they each have such strong interests that consume them. However, I like that each character has a passion, and I do find that those kinds of people are the most interesting in real life :)

    And I love Cricket. Boy who tinkers and invents things? Yes, please!

    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews

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    1. Yeah, that's exactly it. I don't know anyone IRL who has passions quite so extreme and intense as the people in this novel, but it definitely makes for very interesting characters.

      Cricket is pretty dang cute, with his inventions and his style and his sweetness.

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  6. I don't read much contemporary YA, and the ones I read turn out to be terrible. Such bad luck with books these days! But I love the name Cricket! It's so...I don't know, I just want to say it out loud again and again :) And you're right, dystopia is fatiguing me a bit now.

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    1. Aw, too bad. I've loved the past few contemporaries I've read (not that the list is terribly long...) so I have no complaints. I would definitely recommend Stephanie's books if you're looking to get away from dystopians for a bit. It's hard not to love Cricket!

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  7. Yay! Glad you loved this one too:) I agree, I didn't quite relate to Lola as much as I did Anna, but I still loved this story just the same. It's rare for me to want to return to a non-paranormal world either, but I'm happy to dive into any world Stephanie Perkins writes! Fabulous review Aylee!

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    1. It's such a strange feeling for me, to be so excited to want to dive back into a contemporary world - but I know I will forever be a full on fan of Stephanie Perkins and I will read whatever she writes as well! So excited to meet Isla!

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  8. I loved Lola's quirky qualities (and how utterly brave she was to always wear her crazy-awesome outfits), too. This was a fun book! Glad you enjoyed it :)

    Lovely review, Aylee!

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    1. So brave to be herself! I wish I could be more bold like her, not care what anyone else thinks.

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  9. I don't know how Steph Perkins does it, but she truly writes such delightful stories. Anna and Lola were so much fun to read and left me feeling all swoony and giddy. I can't wait to see what she has in store for us in Isla!

    I would love to read more YA contemporary books, too, but sadly a lot of the ones I've read leave a lot to be desired that I end up gravitating to the adult chick lit stuff. However, I do love Morgan Matson's Amy & Roger's Epic Detour and her newest one, Second Chance Summer. Lovely, lovely stuff!

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    1. Yeah, Lola was seriously the perfect book for me to read in the moment - it made me feel the warm fuzzies! I need to read more books like that. Here's hoping Isla will be the best one yet!

      I always hear such good things about Amy & Roger's Epic Detour! I didn't know Second Chance Summer was also written by the same author.

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  10. Great review Aylee. Currently, I'm reading Anna and the French Kiss (or I should clarify - "listen to" via audio book on my iPhone). I just LOVE it. I'm like you, certainly not a big contemporary fan, but this one is special. I like how its just has a feeling of realness to it. I'm now going to add Lola to my TBR. Since you enjoyed it so much, too. Thanks for a great review!

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    1. Yeah, realness is very important to me - especially in contemporaries. Though some aspects were definitely not real - like certain over-the-top aspects of the characters - I certainly got that vibe from them, though moreso from Anna. I hope you love Lola too!

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  11. For me, I kind of hate Lola and Cricket a bit (because he lets everyone walk all over him, starting with Lola and Calliope).
    But I did love seeing Anna and Etienne, I think this is when I really grew to like them and made me look back to Anna's book with more fondness that what I had originally felt.

    Lola was just too much all around, but I did love her parents.

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    1. Aw, I'm sorry to hear that! I quite loved Lola exactly for that reason - she was over-the-top and bold - but I can expect your reasoning.

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  12. I love this book and I seriously love me some contemporaries. John Green is always a good bet, personally I love The Disreputable history of Frankie Landau-Banks and The Confessions of Georgia Nicholson. Oh, and I have a thing for Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys.

    It makes me happy inside everytime I see a good review for Lola. Love love love it.

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    1. Ugh, I am so embarrassed that I have never read anything by John Green. Soon, I swear! Never heard of those other authors, so thanks, I'll look into them!

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  13. Eep I've been meaning to read this one since it came out and I haven't ad a chance yet. I kind of forgot about it to be honest. But I really want to meet this Cricket he sounds yummy!! Nerds are the new black!!

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    1. Yeah, i's funny how quickly we forget about books we wanted to read when we're presented with new books that we also want to read. Cricket is so cute!!

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  14. I can't believe I still haven't gotten around to reading this one and meeting the amazing Cricket (seriously, why would you name a kid that though?)! I loved Anna and the French Kiss so I'm really looking forward to seeing more of Anna and St. Clair in this one.

    I think you should read more contemporaries too. I tend to like darker ones but I can see you really enjoying lighter ones. Sarah Dessen would be another great choice (as recommended by elana). She's one of my favourite YA contemporary authors.

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    1. Heh, true, it's a silly, but I think you might find that it grows on him? I know I did.

      I would like to give all types of contemporaries a try, seeing as how I don't really have a good feel for what I like. Sarah Dessen is definitely a must though.

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  15. I loved Anna and recently picked up Lola. Can't wait to read it. I am glad you enjoyed it and you should definitely pick up more contemp, it's awesome :) Great review!

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    1. I know, I know. I'm figuring this all out now :)

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  16. Eventhough I prefered Anna, I loved Lola too :)!! I can't wait to read Isla and the Happily Ever After ! Great review Aylee !

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    1. I think Isla might possibly be my favourite! We'll see!

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  17. *hangs head in shame* Sadly, I haven't read either... but they are very high (like at the top) of my to-buy list. Both sound amazing in that they are very good-hearted books. I need a light-er read that will make me smile :) I loved your review Aylee, the fact that you want to read more contemps because of these two books makes me want to run to the bookstore *right now*

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    1. I think you would really, really love these ones, Lulu! Might put you in a contemporary mood too!

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  18. My names doesn't start with an L and I'm strange. Or maybe I just wish I was strange. But seriously, I could stare blankly at nothing for eons. Isn't that strange?

    I have yet to read this series, but I think I know a couple of cartoonish people, so I think it will be fun to see just how much more exaggerated they can get.

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    1. No, I can do that too actually. I assume it's because I don't get enough sleep though! I don't wish I was strange per se, but I wish I had more confidence in myself like these L girls!

      I would be very interesting in hearing what you think, Missie! You always have such an original viewpoint.

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