From Goodreads: "According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for "social") has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he's always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers--until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy's skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser."
Admittedly going into this book I was somewhat determined not to like it- for one reason, it's completely out of my comfort zone (that being YA pararnormal and dystopian/ post-apocalyptic), for another, I had to read it for school (I cannot recall having ever finished a novel for school in its entirely, especially during high school). However, all that effort to not like it was to was to no avail- when all is said and done, I really enjoyed this book and it's safe to say that it completely exceeded my expectations.
After finishing this book the two elements which stick out to me most are the emotions and the relationships. In reading YA over the years I have grown so accustomed to the male characters being "bad boys"- cocky arrogant, and charming to the nth degree, however, despite all of that they have nothing on these boys. I've come to realize that those "bad boys" are fooling themselves, their "badness" (and all of the emotions surrounding it) is such a facade and superficial. These boys, from Soda, with a larger-than-life personality and who brings a smile to everyone's face, not unlike the beverage he derives his name from does, to Darry, stuck in a "between" state, due to putting his brothers before himself, to Dally, who isn't near as jaded as he lets himself come off of as, to Johnny, who, out of his death, inspires new life, to Ponyboy, a young man truly trying to find where he fits in the crazy world that he was born into, experience real and raw emotions- while they certainly have swagger, they aren't afraid to cry whenever need be (it was refreshing and I think that authors of the twenty-first century could certainly learn a thing or two from this author of the mid-twentieth-century). As for the relationship element, I can't remember the last time I read of such a strong family unit, despite many of these boys not being related by blood. These boys could always count on one another, even during those times when they may not deserve it.
All in all, while I did enjoy this book I don't believe that it's the "best" and "most popular young adult novel of all time" as the cover boasts (though it is one of the best novels that I have been required to read for school, both high school and university)- but I am entirely thankful for it as it truly paved the way for all future YA.