I had no idea how Stephanie Perkins would match the incredible love story that was Anna and the French Kiss, but Lola and the Boy Next Door accomplished this, without being a carbon copy of book one.
Genre: YA contemporary romance
Amazon description of Lola and the Boy Next Door
Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the negihborhood. 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.
The characters of this book made it for me. Lola, with her wacky outfits, spunky wigs, and band-member boyfriend, was undeniably one of the weirdest characters I’ve ever read about (as a main character). What really impressed me was that I actually liked her. In real life–I’m not going to lie–I would not like her. I wouldn’t bully her, like some characters in the book, but she would be a tad too weird for me to go out of my way to talk to.
But in this book, I loved her. Perkins managed to draw me so completely into her life and gave me such a profound understanding of the mentality behind her costumes that I loved her. (This juxtaposes with one of my last reviews, The Kiss of Deception, where the main character’s personality was one of the main reasons I didn’t like the book.)
Cricket was alive from his first scene. I felt that I totally understood his character, and why Lola and him fell in love (which was beyond adorable, but I’ll get to that in a sec). His twin, Calliope, was realistic, and the dynamic between the two actually felt twinny (it is a source of continued frustration for me when authors decide to write twins, and then write a dynamic that is nothing like my relationship with my twin).
Max, Lola’s boyfriend, was a strange character for me. He’s older than her, in a band, and an all-around bad boy. Chicklit tropes had me assuming he was playing her, cheating on her, etc. But then scenes between the two of them were felt genuine, and I spent a good portion of the book going back and forth between “he’s a horrendous piece of trash” and “he’s a nice guy in love with her.” This conflict helped make the book be more than the predictable contemporary romance plot line I’ve read over and over.
Lola’s parents and her best friend were good additions. I liked how Lola had gay parents without it dominating the plot; Perkins was very plainspoken about it, in a refreshing way. Their over-protectiveness felt familiar (I have friends in similar situations) and was much more important to the overall story. Lindsey, her best friend, didn’t have an overwhelming amount of personality for me–I don’t feel like she was in the story that much–but she was useful for the development of other running conflicts.
Now for the plot. It was great. Different from book one, which was a relief. I don’t think I would have been able to stand it if the two couples fell in love the same way. This book was sadder than the first, and I almost cried. I don’t have any complaints, though, about how the plot panned out.
Anna and St. Clair’s cameos in this book were awesome. I fangirl squealed when I realized who Lola’s supervisor was. I love that even though these books could stand alone, Perkins decided to give us glimpses of the previous book in the next one.
I read all of book three today, and I’ll post a review for it tomorrow.