review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky + movie review


“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be.”
 ― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Publication Date: J February 1st 1999 
Publisher: MTV Books and Pocket Books
Pages: 213
Series: Standalone 
Genre: Contemporary, YA

The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky, Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

I feel like The Perks of Being a Wallflower didn't have that many perks.

As a general statement, I think I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower at the wrong time. I felt like I had already read this type of story. Deep teenager thoughts, popular high school cliches, introverts and extroverts team up etc etc. The Perks of Being a Wallflower vaguely reminded me of The Rest of Us Just Live Here, but anyway! I'm (pretty) sure I would have enjoyed Charlie's story more if I read it in 1999. But we're not in 1999 and I just didn't enjoy this. *sad face*


Right off the bat, the characters in this book all felt bland and never had the strongest actions. Especially Charlie, our main character. He's 15 and later on, turns 16. The stuff this kid was seeing, doing, and experiencing wasn't appropriate for a 15 year old. Charlie's friends, Patrick and Sam, are seniors so it didn't surprise me that the seniors were doing drugs and drinking alcohol. But it was Charlie that was rather alarming and disturbing for me. Charlie was pretty immature and spoke like a child. Yet his actions (again: that he experienced and saw) were definitely at an adult level. There was no in between with this kid! It also seemed like his senior friends never treated him like a friend.

I think Charlie had some kind of disorder. Charlie experienced illusions and mentioned several times that he was in hospitals. And we never get full, detailed reasons. His unknown disorder was basically his wallflower reputation, which I completely disagree because something was seriously wrong with Charlie! Anyway, Patrick and Sam were important(ish) side characters and I just felt meh for them. I was more interested in Patrick because he was gay but in the closet. I would legit (re)read The Perks of Being a Wallflower if it was in Patrick's point of view. He was more engaging than Charlie.

Writing wise, this book was written in letters which I liked! But I didn't like Charlie's narrating. His words got jumbled up and his emotion scale only went to sad and happy. Like?? More details?? And, of course, our plot was character-driven by Charlie. At this point, I gotta say I tried so hard to like Charlie but he was so messed up and I was upset with his peers for not helping him. All he had was this wallflower label. (Yes, I'm rolling my eyes right now) I have more to rant (oops) about like relationships and the open ending but it's all pretty spoiler-ish so I'll stop here.

TRIGGER WARNINGS:

- Depression 
- Physical/Sexual abuse 
- Suicide 
- Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking
- Psychological issues 
- Abortion

Don't hesitate if you need more information on how much of these topics are covered in the book(s).
My email is always open at browneyedbibliophile@yahoo.com

OVERALL

I'm generally upset with The Perks of Being a Wallflower. PERKS skimmed over so many details and important topics - that's what I really want to read about but nope. This book just made me more alarmed than anything. I can see why it's a classic and why people love PERKS. It is really nothing new for me. So many more YA books are diving into important topics and they're doing a much better job at research and balancing everything out.

After my rough time with the book, I didn't know what to expect with the movie...


Well, I gotta say, the movie was better than book. I KNOW!? I'm relieved that something worked out for me. I think seeing PERKS in film form was a better outlet for Charlie's story. Yes - things were cut but everything improved. The movie was like a nice, indie film. The atmosphere was more appropriate, where the book was pretty much black and white. The main cast are well known now but they all did a great job! Especially Emma Waston (Sam) and Ezra Miller (Patrick) - they really brought Sam and Patrick to life. The setting was good (THE TUNNEL SCENE WAS SUPER GOOD) and I loved the soundtrack. But the plot still had flaws.

I still struggled with the story. The movie dropped a lot of traumatizing scenes that we saw in the book with Charlie so the plot was more open. But we still had questionable actions and Charlie's unknown disorder. We also lost the letters (which I was glad because it wouldn't have worked well) and the close relationships we saw in the book. But we gained other relationships, more developed ones. I can't go much into this either because spoilers (I should have really made it to discussion oops) but I wasn't happy. And in the book, I had trouble with Charlie, but he was a more structured character in the movie. I mean, he had facial expressions!!

THIS MOVIE IS RATED PG-13 FOR:

- Sex and Nudity
- Violence and Gore
- Profanity
- Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking
- Frightening/Intense Scenes

(details)

OVERALL

So yeah. The PERKS movie worked out okay for me. Like I said before, the movie industry was a better outlet for Charlie's story. I do recommend this!

How do you feel about PERKS?? Do you like Ezra Miller (I LOVE HIM) or Emma Waston? Have a great day bookaholics!


 photo Anna sigh off _zpsldolpi09.png

10 comments

  1. EZRA MILLER. *SCREAMING*

    I've been hesitant about reading this book, so it's nice to see a review that didn't throw it in my face. XD It's one of my friend's favorite books, though, so I may end up trying it eventually. Great review! I love how you compared the book and the movie.

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

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    1. ME ASDFGHJKL I LOVE HIM SO MUCH

      Aw no problem haha. Thank you, Ellie!

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  2. Awww I'm really sorry you didn't like this :((( it's one of my all time favourite books and one of the first YA's I ever read. I think Charlie acted the way he acted because he was extremely insecure about himself. So he just did what he needed to do to fit in with the seniors. From what I understood, he has extreme social anxiety and depression and so he is easily swayed by others to do whatever they want him to do. I think that's why he had a very child-like tone as well. He had a lot of problems as a child that effected his development. I do agree that the movie did a better job at showing his struggles though! I thought Emma Watson was the perfect Sam and I have easily seen that movie a solid 12 times by now lol!! Sorry if it seems like I'm giving you a long explanation here, this is just what I interpreted from it. I hope you have better luck with your next read, Anna! :)

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    1. Thanks. :,) I love your perspective on Charlie! I think I needed things to be more clear and to have more details. Yesss! Emma Watson was perfect. It's ok - thank you Emily!

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  3. Discussion? Is there a book-to-movie adaptation discussion group at your library or book store? Funny-- I finished a shift of volunteering where we argued for over thirty minutes on what kind of clubs we should make, and this is indeed one of the ideas we came up with. The Perks of Being a Wallflower isn't something I've read yet, but I do feel like it's one of those books where you'd appreciate more if you haven't broken into the genre yet and need something emerging (okay, so maybe take this with a grain of salt because it does cover heavy topics).

    xoxo Abigail Lennah | ups & downs

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    1. Uhh nope. Teens in my area don't really read (for fun) so we don't have book clubs. :,) I agree! I strongly think, back in 1999, PERKS started a new, contemporary path (for writers and readers!)

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  4. I'm planning to read this and I've heard so many good things about it! I'm sorry that you didn't like it.

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  5. Huh! I've heard great things about this book but I haven't gotten to picking it up. I might not???
    BUT, then again I haven't read The Rest of Us Just Live Here? So maybe it would a different experience for me, who knows. (Also I LOVE YOUR BLOG THEME AHHHHH)

    <3 Julianna @ blots of ink and words

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    1. If you enjoy deep, psychological, character-driven stories then yeah! I would check out PERKS. This book just wasn't my thing - I had different expectations. The Rest of Us Just Live Here is wayyy better. The story idea is new, the characters are very likeable and the plot was very clear. In the end - it's up to you Julianna. Thank you! :D

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