Book Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

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Title: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Author:  Jesse Andrews
Release Date: March 1st 2012
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Source: Bought  
Rating: ★★★
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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.


My Review: 

I've heard a lot of great things about this novel, that it's hilarious, witty and generally amazing and heartfelt. I finally got the chance to pick it up and read it since I plan on seeing the film that is adapted from this novel (Book and Movie Review will be up later this week!)

I read Me and Earl and the Dying Girl on a weekend, and it's a quick and easy read. The narrator, Greg, has everything figured out on how to remain invisible and ordinary in his high school while making strange, and in his own words, awful films with his only friend, Earl.  

This novel makes it very clear that this is not a standard cancer story, where the two main characters fall in love and the reader, which is us, will leave feeling fulfilled and enlightened on incredible life lessons on love, life, and cancer. 

You can tell early on that Greg is insecure and incredibly defensive on how insecure he is and how much he depends on other people's opinion of him. He undermines everything he feels and experiences, especially when he experiences emotional distress. 

For this genre and topic, I suppose that the narration is refreshing but I felt that this blasé attitude was not only a character trait on the main character but an extension on how the author wanted his novel to be perceived. 

The entire novel is devoid of any meaning, and the characters are one-dimensional wooden stereotypes. 

For example:
-The eccentric dad
-The over worrying mom
-The crazy teenage little sister 
-The black best friend with a wrecked family life and low-income status
-The sweet and quiet cancer patient 

The jokes were repetitive at times and it felt like the author was trying really hard to push home in big bold shiny letters that THIS IS NOT A TYPICAL CANCER STORY. 

The plot, all of the secondary characters, including Earl and Rachel, were ignored in terms of character development and Greg didn't really grow as a character either. Greg is in a different place than the start of the book, but having a high school senior go to college is not some huge leap of the imagination. 

Overall, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a fast read but fell flat in terms of plot, character development, and anything else that makes a good story. I'm giving it three stars because the writing is great, and the parts were the story is told as a script work fantastically. Earl and Greg's friendship and exploration of the films they both loved was great to read. 

I would recommend this novel to the nihilist in your life who thinks that they are smarter and more worldly than they actually are. 

Check out my Book + Movie Comparison Review here.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is available here

-Amanda Leon 

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