by Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton Books
Publication Date: September 29th 2011
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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.
I feel like the only person in the land of YA that is not a huge Stephanie Perkins fangirl. I have heard SO many good things about her books. I didn't read Anna and the French Kiss because of the whole boyfriend stealing but not boyfriend stealing situation (NO MATTER HOW YOU CUT IT, IT'S STILL BOYFRIEND STEALING! :P) but I thought I'd give Lola and the Boy Next Door a read because it had been such a highly recommended contemp and it didn't involve boyfriend stealing. Yay! Going in I had super high expectations for this book and unfortunately Lola and the Boy Next Door just ended up falling flat. I wanted to like this book. I REALLY wanted to like it. But alas it was not meant to be. :/
One of the reasons I had a hard time with this book was that I just did not connect with Lola at all. She was just so immature and extremely selfish. The story starts out with her being completely "in love" with her 23 year old boyfriend (who as horrible as they tried to make him out to be really wasn't that bad) but then Cricket pops back into her life and suddenly she's thinking "Hmmm... You know what? I think I like him better than Max my totally nice but older boyfriend. What should I do? Oh right! Lead Cricket on and then dump Max's ass!" Seriously, this was so not okay for me especially since I did not get why Max went from a surprisingly nice older boyfriend to him suddenly being painted as an abusive lying scumbag. Like what? Did I miss something? Because Max seemed pretty nice and understanding to me considering his girlfriend was so horrible and immature and wore outfits that made it seem like it was halloween everyday. It's a miracle he stuck around as long as he did to be honest. :P I also hated the way Lola would lead Cricket on throughout the story only to crush his heart a few pages later. Girl, I do not care if this guy broke your heart back in Jr. High HE DESERVES BETTER. Stop feeling all sorry for yourself and start treating him with respect because you do not deserve him AT ALL. He is way to good for you!
Which brings me to Cricket. I actually liked Cricket. I liked him a lot. He was sweet, and totally nerdtastic which was adorable. However, I still don't get his obsession with clothes and why that was supposed to be so hot because, I know it's a stereotype, but normally the guys who obsess over their outfits being perfect are gay. Just saying. :P So Cricket was pretty rad. But the problem with Cricket was that he was so darn needy. I mean he shows up in the story and about 50 pages later he's proclaiming his undying love for Lola. Seriously? Ugh. He won me over again in the last fourth of the novel but seriously dude, learn to hold back a bit especially when the "love of your life" already has a boyfriend.
Anddd now we get down to the nitty gritty AKA the stuff I REALLY didn't like about this book AKA the romance. This was probably the most frustrating romantic contemp of all time for me. I know you guys are probably shaking your heads right now thinking "Julia is crazy THE ROMANCE WAS THE BEST PART" but seriously guys, the romance sucked. It was entirely based around the plot device of Lola having this older boyfriend who was the road block to her having the perfect romance with Cricket and that was a major problem for me. Why? Because in order for Lola to finally get a true romance with Cricket I had to wade through pages and pages of Lola talking about the amazingness of older boyfriend Max, and then pages of Lola bitching about her and Cricket's sordid past (really?), and of course pages and pages of Lola flirting with Cricket, being jealous of other girls with Cricket, leading Cricket on, feeling torn, and just generally being obnoxious. And once boyfriend Max was finally demonized and out of the picture there were less than 50 pages of some truly sweet Lola/Cricket romance. LESS THAN 50 PAGES. I know that Lola and Cricket have been "soulmates" since forever but I still felt like their relationship was underdeveloped because it was built on secrets and forbidden flirting. I don't want romances laced with jealousy and rationalized cheating behavior. I want stuff that's built on trust, honesty, and mutual respect and there was none of that in this book.
Honestly, the only two things that made this book readable for me were Cricket and Lindsey Lim. Face it guys: LINDSEY LIM WAS THE BEST PART OF THIS BOOK! Seriously, she was the only thing that made me finish this book. I was more invested in her non-romance with Charlie than I was with the Lola/Cricket romance. Not even kidding. Lindsey Lim deserves her own book of awesomeness because unlike Lola she's smart, rational, and wouldn't lead a guy on.
So as you can tell Lola and the Boy Next Door was not an enjoyable read for me. I do think that Stephanie Perkins is a fine author who can craft some quirky characters but she really needs to work on her romantic storytelling. Stephanie Perkins if you're reading this please write a romance next time that doesn't involve someone stealing their "one true love" from another girl or cheating on a boyfriend with ones "soulmate". PLEASE. Not all stories need to be as romantically conflicted as The Notebook, especially when we all know that there is only one The Notebook! :P
I give Lola and the Boy Next Door 2 out of 5 ice cream cones.