I am currently writing this from Toronto's Billy Bishop airport. My flight back to school got delayed by half an hour and I thought it'd be the perfect time to share my thoughts on Lola and the Boy Next Door.
I couldn't wait to come home this weekend. I missed my parents so much. I wanted to sleep in my bed. I needed to talk to my friends. And, of course, I had to pick up a copy of Lola.
Anna and the French Kiss was The Book last year. Everyone read it, everyone loved it. In my original review, I had a relatively lukewarm response, but as time went on it grew on me more and more. I reread so many parts, fell in love with Anna and Etienne so many times. When I heard about Lola, I was EXCITED. September could not come fast enough!
Now, having read it, I can't say it was worth quite all that excitement, but it was certainly an enjoyable read. Here's why:
-It functioned very well as a companion novel.
The first author I ever read who did anything companion-like was Sarah Dessen. Her characters would all pop up in each others books. Sometimes they'd be introduced with full, speaking lines. Sometimes they'd just be described in a restaurant. Either way, we got to see what was up with them, make sure our favourite couples were still together. It was nice, a little bonus. Nothing to get all that excited about, but enjoyable for paragraph or two.
The only other companion-like series I've read is Simone Elkeles's Perfect Chemistry. In those books, the previous characters came back as supporting players, with full plot arcs. That was fun too. Not only did I get to see what happened to the characters, I got to experience another part of their relationship.
With Lola, I wasn't sure what type of "companion" I would get. Would it be more Dessen or Elkeles? I'm glad to say it was much more Elkeles. Anna and Etienne were Lola's friends. They appeared in numerous scenes. They had cute romantic moments. They didn't really have any conflict or development, which was a little disappointing, but still fine. It was nice to read about them again. I really wish there was another book about them. I love them so much!
-It wasn't as good as Anna
The set up of Lola is basically the opposite of Anna. In the latter, the girl protagonist was in love with the mysterious boy with a girlfriend, Etienne. In the former, the girl, Lola, has the boyfriend, and the boy, Cricket, is openly in love with her anyways.
It was a strange reversal. Usually, a lot of a novel's mystery revolves around the fact that the boy may or may not like the girl. Here, we knew almost immediately that the boy loves her. There was no mystery. This put a lot more emphasis on Lola's internal struggle as she tried to choose between her boyfriend and the boy she really loved.
I didn't buy it all that much. I really wish that the boyfriend, Max, had been developed better. As it was, Lola looked rather dumb for staying with him. Cricket was the obvious choice, the right for her. Anyone could see that. It got annoying after a while, when Lola wouldn't admit it.
-I didn't love Cricket all that much
He's cute. Adorable even. Geeky, in the perfect way. Unique. Interesting. But also, kind of perfect. Etienne had faults. He made mistakes! But Cricket wasn't that well rounded. It made him less real. It made me love him less.
Who would I choose--Etienne or Cricket? It's hard to say. I think Cricket fits my personality better, but I think Etienne is the sexier choice. I'm not sure. What do you guys think?
-San Francisco is no Paris
Anna and the French Kiss made me love Paris. It made me want go there, just to visit Point Zero. It made the city seem amazing, so exciting.
Lola didn't really do the same service to San Francisco. It sounded like an interesting city, but it was not nearly as central to the Lola as Paris was to Anna.
-Lola was a good protagonist
I really did like Lola. I loved her costumes, and I liked the journey she went through as she explored what the costumes meant to her, what they said about her. I liked her relationship with her fathers, and I liked how she explained their gayness. I liked her relationship with Cricket. I liked her.
To me, enjoyable is the perfect word to describe this novel. It's not life changing, genre defining, career inspiring in the way Anna was. But it makes me want to read the next novel, Isla and the Happily Ever After. And who knows, Anna grew on me over time. I could easily see Lola doing that too.