Susan E. Hinton's groundsbreaking 1967 teen novel, The Outsiders, can best be described as young adult fiction or adolescent (or juvenile) fiction. The Outsiders was one of the first examples of adolescent fiction to display a realistic group of characters and setting, avoiding the usual teen innocence and puppy love romance found in most teen novels. Instead, Hinton created a group of street-wise teens who were far from innocent and who practiced violence and unlawful conduct on a regular basis. The two gangs--the greasers and the Socs--were very different but highly realistic groups of boys who came from dysfunctional homes on different sides of the social scene (presumably in Hinton's home of Tulsa, Oklahoma, although the setting is never specifically identified.) The Outsiders became a critical bestseller that was particularly appealing to teenage boys who were not regular readers. The resulting movie adaptation (directed by Francis Ford Coppola) starred a host of rising young actors, including Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, and Rob Lowe.
Critics have referred to the novel as having a "fire-engine pace," with a "factitious" plot--fictional but factually relevant. Another called it "rare-to-unique among juvenile books," and The Outsiders won several awards upon publication. It has since sold more than four million copies, earning it both a classic and cult status that few teen novels have ever enjoyed.