In Ponyboy's world there are two types of people. There are the Socs, the rich society kids who get away with anything. Then there are the greasers, like Ponyboy, who aren't so lucky. Ponyboy has a few things he can count on: his older brothers, his friends, and trouble with the Socs, whose idea of a good time is beating up greasers like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect - until the night things go too far...
First off, I want to say that I'm really glad I picked up the edition of the book that I did. There are two editions that are easily available from bookshops in the UK – this one, which is the Penguin Modern Classics version and is shelved in adult fiction, and another that is published by Puffin (children's imprint of Penguin) and is shelved in teenage. I was initially planning on getting the teenage edition of the book, but then I saw the cover to this and knew it had to be this one that I read.
I'm really glad I made that decision. I try not to let the cover of a book matter too much – because, afterall, it's the words that count – but this cover, for me at least, is perfect. As soon as I started reading I was thinking how perfect the cover image was. And this set the tone for the rest of the book.
Another reason that the cover is so perfect on this edition is because of the character on the front. The book is full of characters, and all of them have plenty of character to go around. Each of the boys in the main character, Ponyboy's, gang is distinct not just because he describes each of them in turn at the beginning of the book, but because of the way they act and speak, and because of their individual personalities.
Slowly but surely, I fell for every single one of these characters – even those who are not nice people. They all meant something, and I guess that is kind of the point. And it wasn't even just Ponyboy's gang of friends, but those that they interacted with – good and bad. The Socs, the other greaser gangs and the people they met along the way were all so real that I couldn't help but be sucked into their world.
And the story itself was so absorbing. It was probably because I was so deeply involved with the characters by the time things really started to kick off, but I felt everything that happened to them so keenly. It was a real emotional ride. Gritty, nerve-wracking, emotional, intense and wild are all words that perfectly describe The Outsiders.
As a fan of YA fiction, I am disappointed that I hadn't read this before today, but I guess it's better to be late than never to arrive.
If, like me, you are yet to introduce yourself to the world of The Outsiders, you should definitely follow suit and get yourself a copy. It might be a short book, but what it lacks in length, it surely makes up for in power.