Friday, April 6, 2012

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a WallflowerThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars

This was one of the strangest books I've read in a long time, maybe ever. At first, the start of it didn't suck me in and I didn't know about reading a book written entirely as a series of letters because I don't normally like those gimmicky formats. Usually it seems like those things are used to prop up weak plots, so I put down the book for almost a month. I found it again last week and thought I'd give it another shot since I had heard so many good things about it. I am so glad I did.

This book was so unique and quirky, but not enough to irritate me. It never tried too hard. It managed to be funny and moving and wonderful all at once. Charlie had such a strange voice and he was such an odd character that I kept wondering if he has Asperger's. It took me a bit to get into the flow of the story because of the odd way he articulated everything. But I was already absorbed into the plot, and pretty soon I got used to his voice. Then it got weird because he reminded me of this guy I knew who was mentally insane and talked *exactly* like Charlie thinks. So I started wondering if Charlie was crazy.

This book is probably best for older teens as it has a lot of disturbing themes, including rape, incest, child molestation, underage sex, drinking, drug use, domestic violence, etc, and how often people are passive to these things or stay with (and love) the person perpetrating the abuse. It deals a lot with passivity to life in general. There are also lots of homosexual scenes that some people would not be comfortable reading. The book has lots of bad language and is a very sexualized account of this boy's life and experiences. While the sex isn't described in a titillating way, it is pretty graphic in terms of what goes where, what exactly is happening, who is in what positions, etc.

I must also warn that this book is extremely absorbing and written from the perspective of a child with psychological problems. Sometimes while reading, it made me feel a little like I was losing it. To me, that is a sign of a great book, being able to draw the reader in so thoroughly. My only complaint was that the surprise at the end seemed unnecessary, and I would have liked a more internal explanation for Charlies problems, since he was such an internally focused person.

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  1. I LOVE this book. So smart and riveting. I thought the author did a beautiful job pulling us into their dark world, without making them look like complete victims and letting us know they would be OK.

    You and I both have alternative vampire novels out... maybe we should exchange guest posts?

  2. This review was really interesting for me to read because I had the opposite feelings about this book! I really disliked it...for the same reasons that you liked it! I didn't like Charlie and found his voice irritating. But I can see why many others have loved it and this is a great review! x

  3. Glad you liked the review even though you didn't like the book!