Currently I'm a librarian and before that I was an archaeologist, a journalist, and definitely a bit of a world traveler. I tend to mostly read science fiction and fantasy, though I do love a good mystery and I'm a bit of a book dabbler overall. I've been doing Goodreads for awhile, but a friend thought I might enjoy this as well. Let's see, yeah?
It was very hard for me to rate this book because I wanted to be fair. See, this isn't the sort of book I usually read and while I spent much of the book wishing a murder would occur or an alien invasion would land or something... Well, it wouldn't be fair to judge a teen romantic comedy for not being a mystery or a sci-fi novel, right? So I decided on four stars. It was well written and had a great character arc (and cast of characters), but personally it was more a three on my enjoyment scale.
Okay, so why did I read something that I was pretty sure wouldn't be my cup of tea? In Oklahoma we have something called the Sequoyah Book Award. A committee creates three lists of books -- each for a different age group -- and the folks in those age groups who've read at least three of the books can vote for their favorite. The committee will bring the suthors of the winners to Oklahoma to speak to the students and all in all it encourages reading. I've decided to read the Sequoyah High School list this year -- mostly just for fun, but also because I hang out with the Teen Services Librarian at one of our branches. It's a bit of contest.
There are fifteen books on the list and Lola is the ninth I've read. The others I've read are:
Across the Universe by Beth Revis (good... but with terrible science and last book)
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (excellent)
Ashes by Ilsa Bick (excellent)
Ashfall by Mike Mullin (excellent)
Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber (pretty good)
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (really good)
The Girl is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines (good)
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (good)
and the ones I still need to get to (and have various levels of excitement about... let's just say the sports one was further down on my list than the romantic comedy, but I love a good dystopia):
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Leverage by Joshua Cohen
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Shine by Lauren Myracle
Stick by Andrew Smith
Anyway, so now that you have some background (and I've promoted a local reading list), what did I like about Lola? Well, like I said, I thought the cast of characters was a lot of fun. There were some really interesting personalities and I like how even the people you probably don't like actually have depth to them. They've got good sides and reasoning and sometimes a small wish to be better. I think Lola's relationships with her family and friends are wonderful -- be warned, if you're the type who has issues with things, Lola has two fathers and lives in the Castro district (but if you have issues with that, I hope you read it anyway because it's sweet and it'd give you a nice glimpse into regular life). Now, her Nancy Drew and Veronica Mars loving friend kept my hopes up too high for some sort of detective/mystery subplot, but I guess I can't hold that against her... Many of the characters are people you'd like to know in real life and, despite my lack of interest in the genre, finding out that some of the side characters are in other books (apparently this is the middle of the series) actually makes me want to read their novels (there will probably still be a sad lack of dragons or apocalypse, though).
Lola's story arc and character growth are great. She maybe looks a bit shabby when stood next to her way too perfect geeky neighbor, but remember, we're seeing everything through her eyes and she idolizes him and doesn't get to see his internal struggles. It's not that Lola is a bad person at all, but rather that we get to see so many of her struggles -- which are on par with the things that all of us struggle with on our best days, I think. Still, there's room for growth and she starts taking that path eventually.
It's wonderful what the story says about being yourself and about surrounding yourself with people who reinforce you and your confidence rather than those that cloud you with doubt.
What else? There is plenty of gentle humor. The last chapters are gripping (I got caught up enough in the last quarter to stay up much later than I should).