(Cover picture courtesy of The Oubliette.)
Ponyboy can count on his brothers. And on his friends. But not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids whose idea of a good time is beating up “greasers” like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect—until the night someone takes things too far.
Warning: I am about to criticize another classic novel. But before you begin writing your hate mail, at least hear me out.
S. E. Hinton was sixteen when she wrote most of the novel and the quality of writing reflects her inexperience. I mean, sixteen is young no matter how you look at it and most sixteen-year-olds are barely mature enough to shut up and pay attention in school, let alone write a novel. I truly admire her for writing and publishing a novel so young, but The Outsiders is a poorly written novel. Hinton did not have the maturity to write as well as she would have if she wrote it as an adult. If only John Scalzi’s advice to teenage writers had been around at the time…
Ponyboy feels like a girl to me. When I say this, I mean I can tell his first person point of view was written by a woman. Some women writers like Mira Grant can change their voices very well (see Deadline), but Hinton could not pull it off. Yes, I know Ponyboy is supposed to be sensitive, but there is a fine line between sensitive and obviously written by a woman.
The plot of The Outsiders isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. Nowadays it would be considered cliché (the class warfare between the socs and the greasers), but one has to take into account when it was written. In 1967, this wasn’t cliché; it was reality. As for the characters…meh. They’re not really terrible, but none of them are memorable, despite their weird names. Ponyboy? Sodapop? Give me a break.
I give this book 1/5 stars.