Where to start, where to freaking start...
Like I said, this is my most anticipated book of 2011. I read Anna and the French Kiss earlier this year and it rocketed to the top of my list of all-time favourite YA books. It had heart, it had hilarity, it had the most relatable, loveable protagonist and the most swoon-worthy love interest... and it had two forthcoming companion novels.
(May I just say that I love the idea of companion novels? I've spoken before about how I'm often tired of every single YA release being part of a series. I like new, fresh stories and characters every time. But of course, I love the added excitement of catching up with old friends in overlapping characters.)
I was nervous for Stephanie Perkins's sophomore novel. What if it sucked? What if it totally lacked the spark that Anna held for me? Even worse -- what if I was just apathetic about it?
Safe to say I worried for no reason. Lola and the Boy Next Door is close to perfection.
Because I cannot really articulate all the things I love about it in a cohesive review, let's continue on in list form.
Things I Loved:
-- Lola has two gay dads, and they were real, honest-to-goodness good characters. Funny, nuanced, and they loved Lola so, so much. They were such good parents and fun to read about, to boot.
-- the setting. San Francisco was so vibrant and lovely in this book, and it made me want to go there even more. (Hey, maybe I should go -- it's only about a two days' drive from here!)
-- Lola herself. I was afraid I wasn't going to like her as much as I liked Anna, but I did. Where Anna had that manic nervousness that I could so relate to, Lola had such a magnetic confidence that I want to relate to. Lola is someone that I want to be. She's a great role model. Plus she has the best style the world has ever seen. Any character with Marie Antoinette as a style inspiration is all right with me!
-- Max. I know, I know, he's a douchebag. And I don't like him in a swoony way. I just loved how he was portrayed, how he seemed all right for the most part but would occasionally show his thorns -- and then it would hit you that he is not the right guy for Lola, not at all. I loved how Stephanie Perkins used him as a foil to Cricket.
-- Cricket. While he didn't have the same omg-I-love-him factor that St. Clair did for me, I loved his zaniness. And his awkwardness was so adorable that I wanted to cry. In a good way, if that's possible.
-- Seeing what Anna and St. Clair are up to. They slipped into this novel so effortlessly. They really fit. It didn't feel at all like they were just shoved in to appeal to the the fans of their book. Even if you haven't read Anna and the French Kiss (and why the heck not?!) and don't know them already, you'll love them.
Stephanie Perkins has become one of my absolute favourite YA writers in what feels like overnight. I'm going to be buying a finished copy of Lola the day it's released, and it'll sit next to Anna on the bookshelf, awaiting the day Isla and the Happily Ever After can join them!
Lola and the Boy Next Door is being released September 29th, and I can't freaking wait for you all to read it.