Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky

Date finished: 25 August 2013

Rating: 3*

I honestly had such high expectations for The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I just don’t even know what happened… The movie was so amazing, and yet the novel… just didn’t live up to it.

This is probably totally unfair, and going against all that I stand for as a reader, but seeing as Steven Chbosky wrote both the novel and the script for the film, AND directed the film, I’m going to do the unspeakable.

I’m going to compare the novel to the film.

Just pipe down, okay? Let me explain myself. First off: the excuse. I did actually want to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower before I saw the movie. In fact, I wanted to read it before the film even came out, or was advertised. I have proof, because it was on my Grade 8 setwork list for a reading project we had to do. Anyway, the book wasn’t available on Kindle, or at Exclusive Books, so I gave up and read Matched by Allie Condie instead, and pretty much forgot about it.

Then the film came out, but I didn’t go see it at first, because I STILL wanted to read the novel first. But the novel was STILL not out on Kindle. After my friends literally begged me to go and see the film, because it was such “an Amy movie”, I eventually gave in and watched it.

And it was beautiful. And my friends were right – I did love it.

But anyway, the novel. I found it in one of my Exclusive Books raids – coincidentally the same raid in which I discovered that Abandon by Meg Cabot had been released in South Africa – and decided to buy it, partially because I loved the movie, and partially because my younger self had wanted to read it, and I am quite persistent in getting what I want… eventually.

But it just wasn’t what I expected. It really wasn’t as good as the film, which is surprising because almost ALL novels are better than the films. No, actually. That’s a bit unfair. It was still a relatively good novel, and there were aspects of it that I enjoyed more than the film, but there were also aspects that I hated.

The one thing that seriously irritated me was the writing style. The diction that Charlie used in his letters was so formal, yet simple in the sense that it had such a childish tone. I guess that this was because Charlie was very advanced academically, and wrote the way he talks – as he explained it in the novel – but I felt that it almost put up a barrier between Charlie and the reader, which made it very difficult to relate to him. And seeing as The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming of age novel, I would’ve thought that it’s purpose was for adolescents to relate to it. But I don’t know. Maybe I’m missing the point.

And another thing that made me grind my teeth in despair: grammatical errors. Only a few, yet there they were. I’m thinking of writing a strongly worded letter to the editor for the misuse of “me” and “I” when saying, “So-and-so and I/me did…” But anyway, that’s a lecture on grammar that I’ll blog about another day. And I know that nobody’s perfect, and that we all make mistakes, but THAT’S WHAT EDITORS ARE FOR! To fix your mistakes when you publish a novel for the whole world to see.

Don’t get me wrong; there were good aspects to the novel as well. There were times where I would smile at the author’s choice of words, when I wasn’t irritated with the diction. There are so many quotes in this book that I will be using for a while. Such as, “We accept the love that we think we deserve,” and, “We are infinite,” and cheesy yet heart-warming stuff like that.

I also thought that the novel explained Charlie’s relationship with his aunt and his English teacher a lot better than the film did. But that’s to be expected with most books, because it’s easier to write about a relationship than to physically show it to somebody. But I understood the story more after reading the novel. It answered all of my unanswered questions.

So overall, I gave The Perks of Being a Wallflower three stars, because although I was annoyed with the writing most of the time, it was still okay. Not really deserving a fourth star, but also not bad enough to be considered “below average.”

I recommend it to all those of you who were confused after watching the movie, because it does explain the storyline a bit more clearly. Even if you’re not a reader, you should try it out. It’s very short – it only took me three hours to read cover to cover (it was a long car trip to the South Coast…)

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