The Stranger is a realistic fiction book that I recently read in my AP Literature and Composition class. Normally, I do not review books that I am required to read, however I have strong opinions regarding this book that I wish to voice. It follows the character Meursault, who committed a murder that issued him a death sentence and reflects upon the meaning of life and death. The Stranger is known for its foundations on existentialism.
For me, the most important factor in whether or not I enjoy a book is a realistic character with emotions that I can invest myself in. Meursault is perhaps the most emotionless main character I have ever read. Quite honestly, he is so apathetic that I would almost characterize him as a sociopath. All he cared about, if he cares about anything, is himself, and yet that is not even obvious as he does not have a care in the world during his trial and the death of his mother. I was not invested in his fate and by the end, I didn't exactly care about his execution. I understand that the writing of his detachment from the world around him was deliberate, however he was also detached from the audience and I was left disappointed by the lack of humanity in his soul. Now, I could still like the book if there were strong secondary characters, but even Marie felt distant and almost made of glass or shadows.
Yes, the execution was very unfair and there are good points about existentialism, but it could have been executed better. For instance, the targeted audience is confusing. It is at a seventh grade reading level, but yet full of mature concepts that are inappropriate for that audience. The Stranger was also bland and unsophisticated with a strangely simplistic sentences. There is a very narrow way of looking at life and his message at the end with life being meaningless is downplayed by Meursault’s lack of indifference and bleak, almost non-existent morals.
This book should be known for its ideas, but Camus is not a writer worth the amount of attention the book received. I was missing an "it" factor, something to excite me, but rather the book is narrated with such monotone that it is perfect for only one task- a bedtime story.
I don't recommend this book.
Title: The Stranger
Author: Albert Camus
Publisher: Vintage International
Rating: 1 Star