Saturday

Book review: Catcher in the Rye

Catcher in the Rye- J D Salinger
Of course, I'd heard of this book due to its cult-like status. However, I had no idea what it was about. My copy had no blurb. I didn't know any characters, I didn't know any events... I literally had absolutely no idea what the book was about. 

Reading the first page, I was easily taken in by the informal, conversational style. By the third page, I was sick to death of it. Holden Caulfield, the 16 year old protagonist, has an extremely limited vocabulary. He admits this, but it does not make for interesting reading. To make it worse, he communicates in embarrassing American teen slang, peppered with "lousy", "phoney" and "it kills me". 
Holden is an angsty, self-important teenager who hates everyone and everything. He fails to recognise the people who look out for him and instead finds something to hate in everybody, pushing himself further away from them. Then he complains that he's "lonesome". Repeat for 192 pages. 

There are moments of tenderness here. His relationship with his little sister Phoebe is adorable, although she seems to look out for him more than the other way around. One of the final scenes, in which he takes Phoebe to a carousel and finally feels happiness as he watches her ride it, just about saved the book for me. I can relate to him here, as I have a close relationship with my little brother. Furthermore, Holden, understandably, fixates on his younger brother Allie, who died of leukaemia aged 11. He clearly holds Allie in very high regard and it seems that his depressive nature is due to this bereavement.

I understand that, I really do. I just wish he would get over himself and stop being such a boring, moaning, hypocritical buffoon. I didn't like Holden one bit. I didn't like the repetitive style. As for the plot, there isn't one. Holden rings a friend, then goes for a drink. Then rings another friend, then goes for a drink. Then rings another friend... 
I pretty much read the book in one sitting. Not because I was entranced by it, but because I couldn't wait to finish it and have it out of my life. 

17 comments :

  1. I loved this book when I read it. I was in my teens though and it was to 90s so I think I identified with it. I read it in one afternoon. such a shame it wasn't for you x

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    1. I was so disappointed after all the hype of it!

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  2. oh i agree totally...i always wanted to slap that spoiled brat and tell him to man up! :D

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  3. I haven't read this book for years, but your review reminded me of that feeling of 'when is something actually going to happen in this book'. However, I think what I loved about this book was the very fact that you don't warm to the main character - in fact you're made to greatly dislike him which is something unusual in a lot of classic books. I think Salinger's style is interesting and seems to be autobiographical in parts, and the disdain you feel for the character may in some part reflect the disdain Salinger feels for his adolescent self - perhaps the disdain we all feel for our brooding, moody, adolescent selves. Its one of those 'classic' books that you've got to read - and you're made to think that even if you don't enjoy it you've 'got' something out of it.

    love your review - pretty much sums up how I felt when I read the book though I read it at the age of thirteen and thought it was 'really grown up' and this must be what 'grown up' books are like. Luckily... they are not.

    http://sara-says.co.uk x

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    1. This is a really interesting interpretation. Unfortunately, it doesn't make me warm to the book anymore!

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  4. one of my favourite book! studied it for GCSE english lit, and it was so perfect for that age!

    have to agree with you though that i wish he would stop moaning sometimes haha xo

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    1. Haha he certainly does moan a lot!

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  5. Thank GOD someone else thinks this! I thought I was the only person in the world who didn't like Catcher in the Rye. It's OK, but... it's OK. I genuinely don't understand the cult-ness of it. x

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    1. I'm very glad I'm not the only one!

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  6. I read this books last year and I had the same feelings, I struggled to read it but I wanted to finish it because it is a cult classic so I thought it MUST be good. Like you said it is moany, has no plot and is just dull. I think you have to read this as a teenager maybe 15/16 to really enjoy it. There are many books in the world and this is just not one for everyone.

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  7. I couldn't agree with this review more. I read this book in one sitting too. I was on a plane trying to kill the hours and I hated every freaking minute. What the hell is the story!? Like really?

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  8. I think in a way its a book you have to read at 16 or a teen like Holden. I read it then and adored it. I've re-read it several times since and it takes me back to being a teen and identifying with it quite strongly. I thinks its a bit of a marmite book from what I've seen of people's reactions to it.

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  9. My first read of this left me so perplexed. I've read it a few times now and it's a solid favourite. It's more of a book to read and analyse though, I think personally. I don't like Holden as a character despite him apparently being one of the best protagonists of all time. I like his story, and I like the meaning behind his psychology. With Salinger everything is a metaphor, and sometimes I feel like it runs a little deep and comes across as plane boring. I loved the language! The use of vernacular and slang was one of the first of it's kind, it was written in the 50's so I guess it wasn't really 'cliche' at the time. It's a novel greatly centered around childhood but I disliked this when I was younger! When I read it at 15 I thought it was the biggest load of rubbish ever. I do agree with a substantial lack of plot, I think it's more of a thematic story, or written with a message and idea than a set series of events.
    Great review, I look forward to reading more!
    x

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  10. I feel like you hit the nail on the head with this review. I read this book for a freestyle writing class in high school because I had heard so much about it and everyone said it was one "I had to read." I really didn't care for it at all. Holden was obnoxious and self-obsessed and really ignorant to the world around him. He takes a lot of things for granted and sometimes I just wanted to slap him. I guess a lot of teens are like that, and maybe if I had been a bit younger I might have identified with him more, but generally I just found it to be "meh."

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  11. I agree! That may be because Perks Of Being A Wallflower is my favourite book ever and I feel like this didn't live up to how that did.

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  12. Ha! This book is so polarising! I didn't enjoy it either but given its classic status I couldn't help think I must have missed something.

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