Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins – Book Review
I really wanted to like this book. I loved Anna and the French Kiss and I was expecting something equally cute and funny and charming. Instead I found Lola to be immature, annoying, and ultimately unlikable. How did she find two older men willing to jump through hoops for her? The story begins when twins Cricket and Calliope move back next door to Lola and Lola basically has a mental breakdown. The impression is that Cricket did something terrible to her a few years ago. Naturally, I’m thinking something pretty terrible. Maybe he held her panties up in the locker room? I don’t know. A few chapters later, we find out what did happen and I almost stopped reading the book. That was it?! Chapters of build up, her
near panic at the thought of them (him) moving back, and that’s it?!
Not only was Lola not normal, but there was nothing normal about anyone or anything in this book. Her neighbour’s names are Cricket and Calliope, they are related to Alexander Graham Bell, Cricket is an inventor, Calliope is a famous figure skater, her best friend is a wanna be detective and her mother runs a Neil Diamond fan site, blah blah blah blah. There was so much going on that I think we lost Lola as a person. I think she would have been more likable if there was more focus on Lola’s normal day to day life. There’s a good chance I just skimmed over this, but why did Lola want to dress up as Marie Antoinette for the dance, why did she want to wear these costumes all the time? I wanted her to be passionate about something other than Cricket. She had a single track mind. I found her the most likable near the end when she was working on Calliope’s dress, I finally thought: oh I get it, maybe she wants to go to fashion school and become a designer or costumer, maybe she wants to be on Project Runway. Instead her inner
goddess dialogue was Cricket! Cricket! Cricket! It felt very Twilight-esque where her world revolves around a boy. And I think Stephanie Perkins needs to get away of this “the one” business in YA novels. Why is Lola going around looking for “the one” – she hasn’t even graduated high school! Ugh.
I also hated all the lying from Lola. Which is weird because it’s not something that consistently bothers me, especially in books. I think it’s when the MC lies and just expects things to be ok. I hated Tris constantly lying to Four in Insurgent, I just wanted to reach into the book and shake her. I had those same angry feelings while reading Lola, I just wanted her to snap out of it. Maybe because I know she’s better than that and expected more from her. Maybe if she was at heart a dirty sleaze ball, I wouldn’t care if she lied to everyone. Or maybe it’s because they don’t feel enough remorse over the lies that they told, it seems inconsequential to them while their lies are eating me up inside! Or maybe I only get this emotionally invested when I do nothing all day but read this book. Ok, maybe it’s the last one, but it still bothered me.
I’m trying not to compare Lola with Anna, but when I know that Stephanie Perkins can write a character that I love, it’s hard to get over the mess that is
Lola. Delores. Lolita. Whatever. But even Anna is annoying in this novel which makes me wonder if maybe she was actually this annoying in her own book? Oh, the horror! I didn’t even really like Cricket, he was a little wussy. I’m all for a nice guy, hell, I’m engaged to one, I get it, but there’s a fine line between nice and a total pushover: “let me do your hair for you, Lola.” Barf.
From Stephanie Perkin’s next novel, which we all know I’ll read, I’d like to see more of the actual relationship. Both Anna and Lola have these buildups and you know exactly how it’s going to end, but you only get to see then together for a few pages and then the book is done. I’m sure she could write a great relationship but maybe she needs to add a little more of a plot to her story so that it doesn’t have to end when the characters finally hook up.