Friday, 26 July 2019

Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel by: Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

Genre: YA fiction, Contemporary
Published: October 9, 2018 by: Poppy
Pages: 368
Rating: 4/5 stars

Evan Hansen is a teen with severe social anxiety. To help combat this, his therapist has him write letters to himself: "Dear Evan Hansen, today's going to be a good day, and here's why." But, one of Evan's letters gets into the hands of Connor Murphy, an outcast who commits suicide with Evan's letter in hand. Soon Evan gets caught up in an elaborate lie in order to bring peace to the grieving Murphy family, and to gain the one thing he has always wanted: to belong.

This novel is based on the Tony-award winning musical that basically rules my entire life. If you know me, you pretty much know that Dear Evan Hansen is probably my all time favourite musical. I am passionate about the message, I see myself in Evan, and no car ride is complete without blasting "Waving Through a Window." So, when I saw the YA adaptation at my library, I had to give it a go.

I was not disappointed from what I got. The book stays extremely true to the musical. Pretty much the lines are the same as the script, with obviously more detail sprinkled in to make the dialogue longer. But I was really happy that little quips from the musical that I love were included. I didn't find that this book strayed too far away from the source material, which is why it is vital to include Levenson, Pasek and Paul as the authors. It is pretty much their story, and Emmich just put it into book form.

I liked how this book could do more with Evan's frantic mind. By putting it into 1st person, I could totally get the essence of Evan. I could imagine his quick talking as it is displayed in the musical. I could totally imagine book Evan saying these lines as Broadway Evan. So that was very appreciated.

This book was not a full-on home run though. I thought it was *slightly* cheesy. For example, Zoe Murphy is a singer/songwriter in the book, and the solos that she has in the musical are written as songs she has written in the book. It came across as ingenuine to me, and not really real. I found that this book didn't really elevate Zoe's character like they could have.

Overall, I am happy with this book. It did the musical justice, though if you have to pick between reading the book or seeing the musical (given you have the financial means to do so), then I would totally recommend the musical over the book. There is just nothing like hearing those vocals live, and I think the element of live theatre just provides a bit more emotion than the book did.

Have you read/seen Dear Evan Hansen? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess


  1. My best friend is OBSESSED with the DEH musical and I have heard some great things about this book! I am so glad you liked it. I am not super into musicals but I love the storyline of DEH, so I might just pick up the book.

    1. This story is unlike any traditional musical in my opinion! If you love YA and stories about mental health, you might really like it :)

  2. Glad you enjoyed! Novelisations of other media can be hit-or-miss at best, so I'm glad this (mostly) managed to strike the right balance! :)

  3. I think I would prefer the musical to the book. I read it and couldn't get past what Evan did to Connor's family and that his issues over-road how awful that must have been for them.(but I liked Evan and thought his anxiety was done well).
    I wonder if *seeing* Evan would have made me empathize with him more and not be as upset about Connor's family.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

    1. I find it very hard to hate Evan because given how socially anxious he was, he had no choice but to go along with what the Murphy’s though had happened. I think this is clearer in the musical. Musical Evan is just so lovable!

  4. I love some of the songs of the musical and since I don't live in the states I can't go see it, it's good to know that the book did the musical justice and I'll definitely give the book a chance.

    Sofia @ Bookish Wanderess