Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
by Jesse Andrews
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary
Publication Date: 1 March 2012
Publisher: Amulet Books
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.
Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.
Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.
And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.
(This part of the review will be spoiler free)
I honestly expected more from this book. It wasn’t bad, but because I had heard such great things about it, I went in with pretty high expectations. Unfortunately, I was let down.
In my opinion, it just wasn’t that funny. This book claims to be the funniest book about death. It’s nowhere close to that title. There were parts that were funny, but overall, it just wasn’t. There are much funnier books about death out there (like TFIOS). I can see a lot of people thinking this book to be hilarious, but the humor just didn’t work for me.
Despite it not being as funny as I would have hoped, I didn’t hate the book. It wasn’t my favorite, but I read it extremely quickly. It’s a fast read, and is fairly lighthearted despite the darker theme of the story. I’d recommend it to fans of TFIOS for obvious reasons. And while I didn’t particularly enjoy the book, I still want to see the movie (which is the main reason I read the book in the first place).
(This part of the review contains spoilers)
First, let’s talk characters. I really liked the majority of them. In terms of main characters, we have Greg, Earl, and Rachel. The narrator, Greg, is an interesting protagonist. As someone who enjoys making films with my friends even though they aren’t that good, I could actually relate to him. While he annoyed me at times, I didn’t hate reading from his perspective, so that’s a plus. I also liked Earl. He was one of my favorite parts of the book, and he was one of the few characters I found to be actually funny. Next, we have Rachel, the titular dying girl. I loved her a lot. I felt myself sympathizing with her and feeling bad for her. I appreciate how we see how her leukemia affects her. At the start of the novel she’s fairly happy, but as the story progresses, she becomes more and more sad and depressed. I think this is important to show, because unlike in TFIOS, the illness isn’t romanticized in this novel.
In terms of minor characters, there’s a lot, but the ones who stand out the most are Madison, Greg’s mother, Rachel’s mother, and Earl’s family. I liked them all for the most part, and I can’t think of any that I really hated. There were times when Greg’s mother irritated me, but mainly because mothers can sometimes just be irritating, you know?
I really enjoyed the writing style of this book. I liked the parts that were written in screenplay format. Normally it would feel obnoxious, but for this book it worked and made sense.
Finally, the plot. When Rachel dies, it was expected and honestly kind of glossed over so it didn’t feel important. I actually kind of liked how it didn’t feel important, because it just shows that Greg just doesn’t really care. He knew she was going to die and he was able to prepare himself for that. There was nothing he could do about it, and I think he did the only thing he could, which is to accept it.
I think the “romantic” aspect with Madison was kind of extremely unnecessary. It didn’t really add to the plot, but whatever. It didn’t really take away from the story at all, and it wasn’t very important or focused on. It was just there and felt like a waste of words.
Well, that’s my review of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Overall, I thought it was just okay. If you’ve read this book, comment and let me know your thoughts on it.