Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door
Series: Companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Release Date: September 29, 2011
Pages: 338, Hardcover
Goodreads Rating: 4.00 stars
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Content Rating: PG-13 (Nothing more than kissing actually shown, although characters are having sex)
Summary from 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 was a cute, light, fun read. While it didn't take my breath away, I found myself grinning a lot during certain portions of the book and I really enjoyed it overall. I'm still definitely happily awaiting book number three in this "trilogy" (the books aren't exactly sequels - more like a series of companion novels) and can't wait to see what else Perkins has in store for us.
- The comparisons. Unfortunately, there's no way around the fact that any second book in a series is going to be compared to the beloved first book. This is definitely the case with Lola. Honestly, if I had read this book with no expectations whatsoever, it might have earned 4 stars from me. Or, possibly, if I had read Anna a bit longer ago. But, neither of those things were true and I just couldn't help but compare. While this second book was good, it just didn't quite measure up to my expectations. I felt a little bit like I was reading a story very similar to Anna, but from the other perspective. In this case it is Lola herself who is in a serious relationship and finds herself falling for another boy. Which brings me to the other boy...
- Max. Okay, so you know right from the start that this book is about Lola and Cricket, so you know that Max is out the door no matter what. But, Max actually seemed like a really cool, put-together, reasonable character until toward the end of the book when he suddenly seemed to transform. I mean, he put up with a lot for Lola and I had to give him credit. And Lola did nothing but lie to him, so even when he turned into a jerk, you almost couldn't blame him. (Almost).
- Almost too cool. This sounds a bit strange, I know, but I felt like Perkins tried just a little too hard to make her characters cool and edgy. The rock-star boyfriend, the girl who dresses crazily and marches to the beat of a different drummer, the hip-dressing yet geeky boy next door with a kooky name, the gay dads - all together it felt like just a bit too much. Maybe it's a generational thing (since I'm older than the target audience), but I couldn't relate to most of these people and I don't know a lot of teens who would.
- Lola. Unfortunately, I didn't always think that Lola herself was the most likable of characters. She whined a lot and she lied to get what she wanted (or to avoid figuring out what it was she wanted). I was very happy that other characters sometimes called her out on her behavior - We were supposed to dislike Calliope during most of the book, but I couldn't help but agree with her when she reamed Lola out. Lola's dad was also a good voice of reason and called her out on her lying and the way that she treated Max and I was glad that someone did it. I do think that Lola grew and I liked the message that the book sent about accepting yourself and not trying to change to suit others, but I can't say that Lola was my favorite character.
What I loved:
- Cricket. I really loved Cricket - maybe because he reminds me of a grown-up version of my son - an extremely smart kid who can't stop moving and might be a teensy bit behind the curve socially. Cricket is the perfect example of a gifted teen boy - not the type who typically gets the girl. And I loved him!! He was amazingly supportive of Lola (even when she didn't really deserve his support) and sweet and completely lovable. I rooted for Cricket every step of the way and wanted nothing more than happiness for him.
- The romance. Like I already said, I LOVED Cricket, so it's no surprise that I loved the idea of Cricket and Lola together. I found myself grinning through practically every scene where Cricket and Lola were together - and luckily there were lots of them.
- Anna and Etienne. Yay! It was so fun to see these two again. While the book didn't revolve around them, they were big enough characters that we were able to get our Anna and Etienne fix without them stealing focus from the main plot.