Number of pages: 368
Rating (out of five stars): 0 (technically 1 star on Goodreads)
I love the musical Dear Evan Hansen, so it made sense that I would read the novelization. Waving through a Window is a song I feel in my soul. So, that it is my first DNF in years comes has a huge surprise. That I’m also reviewing a book I stopped reading at 114 pages should pretty much tell all you need to know, but let’s get into this.
One of the main reasons I DNFed this was how gross reading it made me feel. There were multiple jokes made about Connor potentially being a school shooter and how much of a freak he was. Like most of the jokes are made by a guy Evan calls a dick, but Evan isn’t much better. Evan makes a similar comment about Connor being the person most likely to be a school shooter later on. It was so gross, especially considering Evan went on an out of place rant about school shootings before we even met Connor.
Evan also is about a step away from stalking Zoe. I got the impression from the songs that he just sort of noticed her and had a crush on her, but the way it’s presented in the book was disturbing and uncomfortable to read about.
There were other gross jokes made, but I think that mostly comes down to the fact that this is clearly written by an adult who has no idea how teenagers talk. I have a teenage brother who makes jokes he shouldn’t all the time, but it’s just to get a rise out of me. It isn’t presented as him actually trying to be funny, and he wouldn’t say 90% of what these characters say even to make me upset.
There was a girl at my high school who died when I was in grade 9 (I didn’t know her), so I know how people react when someone they go to school with passes away, and it certainly isn’t how it’s presented in the book. There is a valid argument to be made about social media here, but it doesn’t accomplish it even as well as the musical does (based on the songs included in the soundtrack). People wore plaid in her memory the next day at school, and there were condolences directed to the family and friends, but no one posted about her like the kids in this book post about Connor. No one who didn’t know her posted about how much they would miss her. People were respectful.
Evan is also just his anxiety. He doesn’t have hobbies or interest; all he has are anxiety spirals. Like people with social anxiety just have trouble interreacting with people. It doesn’t mean we’re devoid of personality and goals. There were parts of Evan’s anxiety I related to, but at the point I stopped reading, relating to those things just made me feel gross about myself because of how gross of a character Evan was. And it was normal anxiety stuff I was relating to like having anxiety spirals and having trouble eating in the cafeteria.
The addition of Connors POV was weird. It made Evan (our supposed hero who rights his wrongs in the end) look even worse, it didn’t do a great job on representing his mental health struggles, and it felt out of place. I know Connor’s ghost (or rather Evan’s imaginary Connor) is a part of the musical, but this wasn’t the way to do it.
I only got to the part where For Forever is referenced, but the inclusion of the lyrics was not well done. It felt like the book wanted to just stick the song lyrics on a page in the middle of the book but couldn’t, so it did… that? (That being awkwardly shoving exact lyrics into internal monologue and conversation). It didn’t work, and it wasn’t necessary.
Overall, I still like some of the songs from the musical, but oh boy can I not support this, earning Dear Evan Hansen a DNF.