Wednesday, 14 November 2012


The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Charlie's not the biggest geek in high school, but he's by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent, yet socially awkward, Charlie is a wallflower, standing on the threshold of his life whilst watching everyone else live theirs. As Charlie tries to navigate his way through uncharted territory - the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends - he realises that he can't stay on the sidelines forever. There comes a time when you have to see what life looks like from the dance floor.

This is one of those rare - very rare - cases when I think the film is far better than the book. This was just so lacking in any depth or real detail that it was more like reading a newspaper report than a novel. It's written all in letters, Charlie is writing to a person we never discover the name of (presumably the reader) about his life. This severely narrows the scope of what is said, he doesn't describe anything, he just tells us what happened. And, honestly, I found it kind of dull. It made me appreciate the film version a whole lot more. I think it's very telling that the author - who also wrote and directed the film adaptation - is primarily a screenwriter rather than a novelist. The detail that you would see on screen is missing from the text, and I think the novel suffers for it.

My other major issue with it is the ending. I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't read the book or seen the film, but the revelation at the end seems to come out of nowhere in the book. It feels rushed and clumsy, and I felt that the author had suddenly decided Charlie needed a reason for not being exactly like all the other kids. Personally, I don't think this was necessary at all, every kid is different, and the writing of it just wasn't up to scratch. In the film, it's built up to, dripped into the story as we go along, but it just appears in the book and it didn't work for me at all.

Overall, I probably wouldn't recommend this book or read it again. I might watch the film again, but the book was a real disappointment to me.

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