08 February 2012

BOOK REVIEW - Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:

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.

Lola and the Boy Next Door is a companion book to Anna and the French Kiss.  It's not really a sequel, because although there are crossover characters (more St. Clair, anyone? :) ), the plot of Lola is entirely its own.  However, I couldn't help but compare this book to Anna when reading it.  Maybe this is unfortunate, because if Lola had been the first Stephanie Perkins book I'd read, I would have absolutely loved it.

I couldn't help but feel sympathetic towards Cricket, and even Calliope, twins who were Lola's next door neighbors in her childhood, throughout the entire book.  Though they were set up to be the "bad guys" in a sense, over the course of the book, these two characters grew more than any others.  From the beginning of the book to the end, as Lola's opinion of the twins grew and changed, so did mine.  I believed what Lola felt, and I found myself agreeing with her nearly all of the time.  Lola's emotions towards her family, friends, and boyfriend took me on a roller coaster ride the whole time I was reading.  Everything she felt seemed so genuine that it was possible to forget that she only exists within a book.

I really don't know what exactly about Lola made me not love it as much as I loved Anna.  Quite possibly, it was because Anna took place in Paris, a city that I've visited many times and love.  I don't have that same connection to San Francisco.  In addition to that, the plots of Anna and Lola follow nearly the same arc.  While the characters are different, it is easy to see counterparts between both books- the main character, the love interest, the significant other who causes problems, the best friend... It was mainly for this reason that it became so easy to compare the two books.  Side by side, I enjoyed Anna much more.  Independently, they both are amazing.
I would recommend reading Lola and the Boy Next Door if you're looking for a fun, contemporary romance.  I would have to give this book 4 out of 5 stars, because Anna got 5+ in my mind.  However, Lola is still a worthwhile read for any fan of contemporary YA, whether you've read Anna yet or not!

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