No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he’s got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends – true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. And when it comes to the beating up on “greasers” like him and his friends – he knows that he can count on them for trouble. But one night someone takes things too far, and Ponyboy’s world is turned upside down…
I know The Outsiders is a common required read, but not where I live, which is probably why I read it
(does anyone else loves reading but strongly despises required reads?). Last year, I started watching everything I could that was set on the 50s/60s – Forrest Gump, Rebel Without a Cause, and, of course, The Outsiders. I found out this is the time period I’m mostly interested in, so gravitating towards the movie was natural.
I was surprised by how much I liked the story and decided to pick up the book when I got a chance to do so. And, though it was a lovely experience as well, I do feel like there were a few missed elements.
- The relationships between the characters. I fall hard for every single male character interaction there is, so to say I had a full course meal with this book is an understatement. The Greasers have such an interesting and unique bond. Johnny and Darry were a surprising one, while Ponyboy and Sodapop warmed my heart in the best ways possible. Even the relationships that weren’t all rose tainted, like Dally and Ponyboy, were beautiful to read.
- The setting. This book really threw me to a countryside city in the mid 60s. And not only because I had watched the movie before, but because the general ambience was very well done. You could feel it by the way they talk about the movies, their slangs and their outfits. As I mentioned my 60s obsession, I couldn’t be happier to be transported so easily to that time.
- The quotes. This book had beautiful passages that made me understand why it impacted so many people. I ended up highlighting quite a few! It’s interesting to me that the author wrote this when she was only sixteen, because some quotes really hit on me and I’m sure I’ll remember them for a long time. My favorite one is definitely: “They weren’t looking for a fight. They were looking to belong.“
- We don’t see enough from the Socs. One thing that the book definitely tries to install is that “things are rough all over” and the Greasers are not the only ones struggling. In reality, though, we don’t see enough to prove that. Cherry was an interesting character, but she didn’t fully represent the Socs to me. Randy was definitely someone that could’ve been more deeply explored. Even when he was talking about the problems in the other side of the town, it just felt like such a first-world problem. To have understanding and supportive parents doesn’t seem like the end of the world to me. Overall, I feel like the story would’ve been a lot deeper if we got to see more from an opposite perspective.
- Some elements of the writing style & pacing. When I picked this book up at the end of the year, I thought it was going to be an easy and fast-paced read. This was the shortest read of 2018 for me, and yet, I took about a week to finish it. The writing just felt stiff and not totally engaging. The way it presents the characters, for example, just felt like an info-dump and I wish I had met them as the story developed and not all at once.
I still think The Outsiders is a great story. I know how many people love it and how much it has impacted them and I understand it, truly.
In terms of comparison between the movie and the book, I genuinely feel like they both deliver. The pacing of the movie was a bit more my style and I didn’t feel a slump at any point. On the other hand, I think we got to see more from the character’s relationships in the novel, and I definitely felt more of a connection when reading it. I still think both are worth checking out if you have the chance!
My final rating is:
Have you ever read The Outsiders? Or watched the movie? If so, what do you think of it? And who’s your favorite Greaser? (Mine would probably be Darry, just because of Patrick Swayze, though).