Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky

Infinite. What does it mean to be infinite? Does it mean living forever, like literally having an infinite lifespan? Or does it mean being of infinite understanding and at one with the universe? Or does it mean that all the lines blur together, everything flowing into another and becoming one, infinitely continuous and connected to everything in the world around? Who knows. All I know is that I made myself want to barf with those cheesy ideas for explanations into what the hell Chbosky was thinking when he sat down and wrote that dumb quote which we are all supposed to think is amazingly profound and meaningful to us and our lives ..... Uh huh ...... To be honest, all it makes me think is that the author tried way too hard when he wrote The Perks of Being a Wallflower

 
I'm super disappointed in this book as I was all set to love it. I was excited to see it waiting for me at the library, I was excited to get home and start reading. I excitedly boiled the kettle and made a cup of tea, which I excitedly took to the living room, swept the couch free of animals and excitedly settled down with my reindeer blanket wrapped around me, cracked open Perks (I was lucky enough to get a brand new copy at the library. I love when that happens! ..... God, I'm sad) and began! And within the first 15 pages my heart sank. I always know right away from the style, the atmosphere and the narrators voice or the general tone of the writing wether I'm going to like a book or not and for Perks that was a not ....
 
 I had to keep re-reading sections over and over as I was certain I was missing things as my eyes grew heavy and my head began to loll. Dear god this book is dull! Like really, mind numbingly boring. This quote really floored me with it's epic crapness - "I had an amazing feeling when I finally held the tape in my hand. I just thought to myself that in the palm of my hand,there was this one tape that had all of these memories and feelings and great joy and sadness. Right there in the palm of my hand. And I thought about how many people have loved those songs. And how many people got through a lot of bad times because of those songs. And how many people enjoyed good times because of those songs. And how much those songs really mean. I think it would be great to have written one of those songs. I bet if I wrote one of them, I would be very proud. I hope the people who wrote those songs are happy." Like, what is that?! What actually is that?! Why was that inflicted on me?! I really wanted to smack Mr Chbosky upside the head after reading that and urge him to get a grip! 
 
It astounds me how popular this book is! What are hordes of teenagers finding within the pages that's in any way inspiring or uplifting? All I found was a completely emotionally manipulative dirge. Everything bad that could happen did happen - domestic violence, drug use, the struggle of revealing homosexuality, suicide, sexual abuse, underage drinking, depression and more! It was as if the author sat down and thought what's really going to get people going, what's going to make people want to bawl their eyes out? Then he came up with the bright idea of covering all his bases and launching every bad thing that ever happened to everyone into one compact novel. That way, he strikes a cord in every single person. Genius! Except it's not - it's irritating and it's unrealistic and it starts to get a tad ridiculous after a while. There's only so much heartache that is appropriate before it starts to go the opposite way and become laughable simply due to the sheer volume of episodes. 
 
Charlie ..... Words fail me to be honest. Charlie is our hero .... Err, well our narrator of the story anyway ..... He is the most violently boring person ever to walk the earth. He has no likes, no dislikes, no strong opinions, no hopes and dreams or future aspirations. He has no pastimes or interests other than reading, and even for that there's a distinct lack of passion and genuine enjoyment. He cries constantly. His voice is bland to the point where the writing almost becomes skilful in it's capacity to bore. I completely get that Charlie stands on the edge of life and observes, I entirely understand that he has issues and mental blocks to overcome but in my opinion this is no excuse to create a character this eye-wateringly dull. I appreciate that he has been through an incredibly traumatic experience which he has stored as a repressed memory due to his inability to deal with the horrific truth. However ...... I found it very hard to care because I don't even know Charlie. I have read an entire book narrated by the guy and don't have a single fucking clue what he's all about. I mean, does he have autism?! Contrary to popular belief, I don't believe so.  Is he just a black hole of endless cliched, boring-as-hell, I-want-to-poke-my-eyes-out-with-a-straw-just-for-some-entertainment characterisation? Yeah, I kinda think so. 
 
I think my main beef with Perks is that it's so painfully try-hard. It's as if the author wanted so badly to emotionally affect readers that he was willing to shoe horn any old piece of nonsense in there to make this happen. He's tried so hard to make it deep and profound and to reach out to his teenage audience that in my opinion the thing reads like a hot mess of contradicting ideas, random situations and so many heartbreaking mishaps that I just don't believe any of it happened. It all becomes terribly pretentious and diluted. Therefore I really don't give a crap.