Hey all! I know it’s been ages since I’ve posted a review, but that’s because I’ve been on the Teen Board at teenreads.com and I’ve been busy reviewing books there. Also I stopped posting around senior year exam time and since college started I haven’t found that much time either.
But anyway, without further ado, I present to you my review of the DEAR EVAN HANSEN book! In case you weren’t aware, the hit musical has been adapted into a novelized form, and I was fortunate enough to receive a copy as a teenreads reviewer!
DEAR EVAN HANSEN by Val Emmich with Steven Levenson, Ben Pasek and Justin Paul
Publication Date: October 9th, 2018
Page Number: 368
My Rating: 4 stars
Based on the hit Broadway show, DEAR EVAN HANSEN tugs at the heartstrings of readers in a new way that even people who didn’t watch the show will find themselves loving. High school senior Evan Hansen is assigned by his therapist to write letters to himself about having a good day. When one of these letters ends up on the wrong person, Evan’s latest letter is taken out of context and throws Evan into a world of grief, lying and trying to do the right thing. After the loss of their son, Connor Murphy’s parents finds the letter their son stole from Evan and think that the letter includes Connor’s last words. After the Murphy’s confront him, Evan goes along with them and gives them the closure they so desperately need about their son. The one problem? Evan wasn’t Connors’ best friend like the Murphy’s believe he was, and the letter was always Evan’s, not Connors’.
What I liked:
I flew through this highly anticipated novel in several days and loved how fast paced it was. The writing was so immersive and I could really understand the motivations behind each character. I really liked not knowing the plot beforehand. With every plot twist and new development, my sense of shock was very genuine. It was also fun piecing together what I already knew about the musical, (which was slim to none). I knew the phrase “The Connor Project” from a quote in the musical, and so when it came up in the book I instantly felt excited. As someone who has not seen the musical, I was still able to enjoy this book a lot, and I know if I ever do see the musical, I think I’ll appreciate it more. For those that loved the musical, I would still recommend this book as it’s still a great insight for readers. With books, there is so much more details behind characters and their thoughts and I know that the book form of DEAR EVAN HANSEN will just give musical lovers a greater appreciation for this piece of work.
What I didn’t like:
I usually dislike the snowball effect of lying trope in movies and books where the main character either tells a lie or doesn’t dispute a lie and it snowballs into a huge lie that would be hard to untangle without people getting hurt. DEAR EVAN HANSEN relies heavily on lies and secrets and for me personally, I couldn’t stand how many lies Evan told and the repercussions he faces at the end of the book are slim to none. Evan’s rise to fame and popularity essentially are contrived from an unfortunate suicide and Evan lying to a grieving family. I just couldn’t see Evan as this great hero protagonist that the book was trying to make him out to be. It was very hard for me to wrap my head around the romance in the book in addition to Evan’s recovery from anxiety. Evan’s anxiety is portrayed as pretty extreme and it’s heavily hinted that Evan broke his arm in a suicide attempt. I just can’t believe he stops taking his medication and faces no side effects from that.
Overall, I would recommend this book to people who already loved the musical. The book is able to go into so much more character and plot depth than the musical was probably able to because of the nature of books in general. If you’re eager to learn more about the world of DEAR EVAN HANSEN than I would highly suggest you read this book!