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Editorial Reviews

Will Grayon, Will Grayson, is the story of two teenagers — both named Will Grayson — and the long list of coincidences that ends with their random meeting in an adult video store (where neither of them are actually shopping). in the text version, the two Wills are distinguished in several ways: The first Will — the one written by John Green and narrated by Nick Podehl — chimes in for the odd-numbered chapters and gets his name capitalized, while the second, written by David Levithan and read by MacLeod Andrews, takes over the even-numbered chapters and goes by the more idiosyncratic will grayson (all lowercase). Since both characters are written in first person, it’s up to Podehl and Andrews to make the distinction clear in the audio version, and they do it well: Podehl’s Will is a teen who’s made a point of not getting too involved with anything or anyone, and the narrator balances the guarded tones of Will’s speaking voice with the less-controlled run of his thoughts, while Andrews gives his will a fast-paced, sarcastic tone that matches the character’s typical teenage cynicism.

While the story builds to the chance meeting between the Wills, the narrators take on a lineup of secondary characters: parents, girlfriends, boyfriends, and one large boy named Tiny Cooper who ties them all together. Podehl has more to work with in his chapters, bringing Will, Tiny, and their friends to life; much of Andrews’ time is spent reading online chats and back and forth dialogue that will prefaces with “me:” and “her:” or “him:” so he has fewer opportunities to develop those voices. But both narrators infuse their readings with the emotions, attitudes, and sentiments that will be familiar to anyone who knows (or was) a teenager. —Blythe Copeland

Publisher's Summary

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both them legions of faithful fans.

©2010 John Green (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

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Funny and touching, this is a one-of-a-kind gem

Any additional comments?

Where do I start with this one? Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a lot of things: funny, sad, heartbreaking, true, romantic, sweet, loud, and so much more. Let me start by saying I had no idea what the story was about. That’s right, I went into the book without knowing anything about it. It’s gotten fantastic reviews, and I just finished something by David Levithan that I really liked, so I figured that was good enough for me.

So the bad thing is, when I started, I didn’t realize it was told from two different point of views. And I also didn’t realize that it was narrated by two different people, so when the second chapter started, I thought “Wow, Will sure did change all of the sudden. And why does the narrator’s voice sound so different?” (Yeah, I’m not so swift.) So, after finally reading the book description, I realized what was going on and could actually enjoy the story. And boy did I.

I liked the two Will Graysons as characters, though I preferred WG#1. He was kinder than WG#2, who had a bad attitude and was especially vicious to his mother for no clear reason. WG#1′s bestie, Tiny Cooper, was something, he was practically the star of the book. He was big, loud and proud. He was self-centered and completely unapologetic about it.

"Tiny is talking about his blinding light spiritual awakening in a way that, nothing against Tiny, kind of implies that maybe Tiny has not fully internalized the idea that the earth does not spin around the axis of Tiny Cooper."

He was hard to like at first, but he eventually grew on me. All of the other characters were unique and interesting. No one-dimensional people here. They all had their own flaws and personality traits that made them so believable. Nobody was perfect or flawless or always said and did the right thing. The dialogue was full of cussing, and some of it felt unnecessary, but otherwise, I liked the way the kids talked to each other. They were real and (most of the time) honest. The story was full of one-liners and sarcasm that made me happy. There were several occasions where I laughed out loud and even once or twice I had to replay something I had missed because I was laughing too loud to hear it.

The plot was interesting; it focused mostly on the Wills (and Tiny), but also their friends, school, partying, and the choices they made in all of those areas. It really flew by, although there were maybe one or two spots I thought could have been whittled down for a more streamlined story. There was also a bit at the end I didn’t feel added anything to the story or the characters. It was supposed to be a big learning moment for Tiny, but I didn’t get it. It just seemed silly and pointless to me.

The narrators were amazing. They sounded similar, but once you know there are two different Wills (duh, Andrea), they were easy to tell apart and the two voices make it easy to know which Will was speaking in that chapter. They became the Wills so perfectly and completely, I can’t imagine anyone else playing those parts.

One of the plot lines involved Tiny and the musical he created. Throughout the novel, and at the end, songs were performed by the students. The narrators did such a fabulous job of bringing those songs to life, I can’t imagine reading the novel and not knowing how the songs sound “in real life.”

Funny and touching, this is a one-of-a-kind gem. I highly recommend the audio version, you would be missing out on a lot if you skipped it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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It's So Hard to Know How to Be Yourself

I'm a John Green fan (The Fault of Our Stars is a must-listen title) and this book was recommended to me because of that. The book threw me headlong into the anguish and ecstasy of high school kids and the struggle to know who we are and how to be ourselves. The two Will Graysons, very different teenagers engaged in that struggle for identity, are excellent characters that I liked a lot and was also annoyed with occasionally. The book also does a great job of showing the highs and lows of love from the straight and gay perspectives. The readers did an excellent job of covering an eclectic collection of interesting characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Killian
  • Palo Alto, CA, United States
  • 12-09-12

Will Grayson Will Grayson will please, will please

Would you listen to Will Grayson, Will Grayson again? Why?

One of the best "reads" I've had in a while. Definitely amongst the best audio adaptations I've purchased. Moving, tender, comical, brutally honest, and brave writing. That's right... BRAVE. There needs be more works like this on the market. Plus, it was almost like this book was meant to be audio. It transitions perfectly to that medium. Had me laughing until it hurt, and hurting until I laughed. READ THIS. Or better yet.... LISTEN TO THIS N*O*W

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Loved it, loved it!

This is a charming, engaging, and "real" story. I say real instead of realistic because some of the plot is quite improbable, but the characters are utterly convincing and lovable. Although the story is teen-centric, I appreciated that the minor characters of parents are portrayed as caring and understanding human beings and not as stereotypes or buffoons. Even the flamboyant Tiny Cooper, who is figuratively and literally larger than life, has a complex persona. The device which drives the story (and which forces the plot into its contortions) is that there are two very different Will Graysons, each written by a different author and voiced by a different reader, whose lives intersect at a time of mutual identity crisis. If I had to attribute my enjoyment of the story to one factor, it would be the respect with which the authors treat their characters and their very real teen struggles--with depression, loneliness, fame, purpose, and all kinds of love. A warning to the squeamish--the language can be quite candid and streetwise sometimes, but this is part of the verisimilitude.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • T
  • 07-04-12

Fantastic novel and AMAZING preformance

Narrators:
Nick Podehl is probably my favorite narrator of all time. This is the eighth book I have that he narrates, and every single time, he does it perfectly. He has never disappointed me.

I've only listened to MacLeod Andrews in one other novel before, and while I loved him in Monsters of Men (also with Nick Podehl!) it was nothing like this. He narrates his Will Grayson with so much much expression in just the tiniest inflections. The whole time I was reading, I felt astoundingly connected to this depressed, adorable, vulnerable boy. (And as a side-note, however much they have paid his for this, it cannot be enough, because not only does he read Will Grayson astoundingly well, but he also SINGS. I don't mean that he sings a couple lines, I mean that he SINGS whole enormous musical numbers.)

Now, about the book: The story is great. It's fun. It's hilariously fun. It's full of large hilariously gay stories.

The first Will Grayson is the pretty much just the unwilling best friend on Tiny Cooper, the enormous and flamboyantly gay dancer/playwright/football player.

The second Will Grayson is a depressed, angry character, who hates everything in his life. There is only one thing in his life that makes him happy. He lives for those moments few and far between moments where he can finally be happy, even for a moment. As I said already, Andrews's narration is what truly *makes* this character.

If you are looking for a novel about being gay, this is it. If you're looking for a novel about a depressed, angry boy, this is it. If you're looking for a novel that will make you happy, this is it. If you're looking for a novel about musicals, this is it. I really do feel like this novel has something for everyone. Are there things that I would change? Sure. Parts I don't like? Yeah. But all in all, it is a fun story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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2011 Odyssey Award Honor Book

I am on a mission to listen to all of the Odyssey Award winning recordings. ("This annual award is given to the producer of the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States.") The more I listen to audiobooks, the more I understand how important the reader and the production are to the whole experience.

This book definitely is an award-winning audiobook experience.

It is also a very important story for all teens, whether straight or gay. Tiny Cooper is truly a larger than life character, and the ways that both Will Graysons grow and change are realistic and heartening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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What a GREAT audiobook!

At ALA, Jamie from Bookmarked told me basically how much she loved David Levithan and John Green (and she was so bummed that John Green was sick and couldn’t come!). I knew who they were but I had never read anything that they’d written before. I fell head over heels for both of their writing styles (different as they might be) and I am so glad that Jamie introduced to me a side of YA that I don’t feel like I had really seen before.

John and David each have a character named Will Grayson and even though they share the same name, they are two very distinctive people. And they share a common friend – Tiny Cooper, whom I think I would both love and hate to have as a friend. Speaking of friends – that’s what this book is about. It’s about friendship and love and appreciation.

While most YA would be considered appropriate for ages 12-18 or even 14+, from my perspective, I think this book’s content is a little mature for a 14 or 15 year old. I’m not saying that the message isn’t a great one, but some of the content may be (depending on the reader, of course). I also come from a very conservative family and so my opinion might be a little skewed. Either way, the overall message that Will Grayson, Will Grayson sends is something that I think everyone can benefit from.

The narrators definitely brought the two Wills to life and embodied their characters.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Chad
  • LA GRANDE, OR, United States
  • 02-01-12

An Amazing Story Told Right

This is a deep, insightful, painful, tragically real book that gives readers a rare glimpse into the world of not one but two very different, but somehow deeply connected, inter-related lives. The emotions, the feelings, the awkwardness, it all rings absolutely true and is amazingly transmitted through the narrators. The book takes what could have been a confusing mess and, by using two authors, turns it into a masterpiece performance that makes the story much more than the sum of it's pages. I love audiobooks but, usually, I know that I am sacrificing something of the story. Not in this case. The narrators make sure you know the point of view you are in, portray multiple voices well, and even read what could be a tedious writing device, IM screen names, with an accelerating pace that makes you feel what the characters must be feeling. I finished this book feeling like I had connected to not only the characters, but the vision of the writers in a very big way. This is the way audiobooks should be done.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Not for Adults

What disappointed you about Will Grayson, Will Grayson?

I loved The Fault in Our Stars, but this felt too obvious and juvenile for adults. And yes, I know this is a YA novel, but I am writing this in counterpoint to the many adult reviewers who loved this book.

What could John Green and David Levithan have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

They did a fine job targeting YA...just not for adults

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

A cute, if unrealistic story about cute, angsty, unrealistic characters

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Let yourself love.

A great story for anyone who has ever been afraid to let themselves love. Insightful and honest.