Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
Review: As predicted, I loved this book. It was hard not to compare it to Anna and the French Kiss, though… I found myself doing that a lot. I think there were enough similarities and differences to make this book really a great follow-up. Perkins does a wonderful job of bringing variety to a typical YA book/topic. There was somewhat of a love triangle, which I normally don’t care for, but the reader obviously knows how the book is going to end and who she is going to end up with. It always takes the main character a lot longer than the reader to figure out! Lola was very different from Anna, which I liked. She had two dads and a messed-up biological mom, who all worked together to make a pretty interesting family dynamic. It was a refreshing change from the usual two parents or two parents who are divorced. She has a rocker boyfriend, who her family hates because he’s much older. When the Bell twins move back into town, she is reminded of her longtime childhood crush on Cricket Bell. She struggles with the two relationships because old feelings tend to die hard. I liked that Lola was less innocent than Anna when it came to boys and sexuality. She wasn’t overly sexual or horny all the time, but she was more comfortable with sex than Anna was in the first book. Lola was a costume designer and seemed like she lived every day under a new persona. I think she was more confident than Anna was. Besides the two main characters being fairly different, Lola’s story was set in San Francisco. I didn’t realize this at first and was a little bummed that I wouldn’t be back in Paris. I think the world-building for this book wasn’t as good as it was in Anna; I didn’t really get a full image of San Francisco. I feel like there was a good reason for that, though… In Anna, Paris is important to the storyline because she’s far from her home, her family, and her friends. St. Clair was familiar with the city and took her to all of the sights, which is how their relationship got started. For Lola, her relationship was with the boy next door. It wasn’t really necessary to go into a lot of the San Francisco-related details, because their story primarily developed between their bedroom windows. I’m happy that we’ll be back in Paris for Isla and the Happily Ever After, though! It’s crazy to me that Perkins can write these stories that all boil down to a girl and boy falling in love, but create such different characters and situations for how it happens. In Anna, it took a while for the two of them to get their shit together and make it work. For Lola, the same thing kind of happened but it was really just because Lola “needed some time.” I thought this was kind of stupid. It was obvious that Max wasn’t right for her and she loved Cricket – why did she make the poor dude wait around for her? In the meantime, getting to see Anna and St. Clair together in San Francisco was so cute. They were obnoxiously in love the whole time and weren’t a major part of the book, but were there just enough to satisfy the reader. It was nice to see our old friends still happily together while interacting with Lola and Cricket. All in all, Lola and the Boy Next Door was just as adorable as Anna and the French Kiss, but featured just enough differences (between the main characters, in the location, and in their relationship development) to make it stand out on its own. The reason it only got 4.5 out of 5 was simply because I preferred Anna’s story to Lola’s. The location of Paris brought a little something extra to Anna’s story and it made for an all-around slightly better book. It’ll be interested to see how she further differentiates Isla’s story from the other two. I’m also excited to see how Perkins integrates the two existing couples back in for Isla’s story… She hinted at it a little bit in Lola, but we’ll see in a few days!!