Saturday, March 12, 2016

ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL: A REVIEW

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Written by: Jesse Andrews
Paperback: 295 pages
Publisher: Amulet Books
Language: English
March 2012
Genre: Young Adult/Fiction

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.


+++++++++++++

Yes the book is usually better, but not always. However, I love seeing books come to life on the big screen. Of course they aren’t always how you imagined or sometimes they leave your favorite bits out, but overall I like them. It might even get somebody to pick up the book after watching the film.

I have had Me and Earl and the Dying girl for a while, but I knew that E and I were going to see the film so I didn’t want to read it too soon before seeing it. Then I wanted to put some distance after seeing the film because I wanted to enjoy the book not nitpick the whole thing. Hence I’m late to the party (as per usual).

Of course I had heard good things about the book. A funny Fault in Our Stars with a very flawed protagonist. Hmm, as if a dying teen can be humorous. Can death be funny especially when you are a kid?

Greg Gaines is forced to spend time with Rachel who has cancer. They used to be friends, but then they weren’t. Greg spends most of his time with Earl Jackson, whom he considers a coworker more than a best friend. Together they spend their time making parodies of films they’ve watched. And then Rachel comes into the picture. What are you supposed to do when an old friend gets leukemia and your mom guilts you into hanging with her? What do you say? What do you do? What if it’s just weird and awkward? This is Greg’s story on the whole thing.

Things I liked: Its non-traditional in both its writing format and in its character’s voice. Greg is a flawed character. He tries to survive high school cruising through every social group, never really part of any. He tries to form no attachments and, above all, does his best not to stand out and become the focus of attention. He is honest and tells you right off the bat that Rachel didn’t suddenly make him understand that life is precious. He knows he is not perfect and is completely comfortable letting us know that. He even calls himself a terrible friend. He isn’t incredibly empathetic. Hell he didn’t even want to spend time with the ‘dying girl’. And yet despite all of this, he’s a normal teenage boy. It is by far one of the most realistic teenage voices I have read in a really long time. Sure he is flawed, but so damn realistic that I can’t help but like him.

As teenagers we were awkward and blunt. We certainly were not enlightened beings. We were selfish. We were dumb. We could be insensitive as hell. We had no idea what the frak we were doing. And then you dump in death. How do you handle that? How do you wrap your head around it? What do you do? Leukemia sucks. Death sucks even harder. It is not glamorized. There are no heroes. It just blows and there’s nothing you can really do about it. . Especially when you are young and just figuring out all of the life crap.

The great thing about Greg is yeah he may have been a bit of a jerk to Rachel. He also may be completely oblivious to how much Rachel has changed him as a human being. But he tries. He really does and I love him to pieces for that. Even if he thinks he didn’t learn anything. Even if he thinks that he’s still the same person.

Earl is just as strong of a character. He is a great balance to Greg. He is just as flawed. Crass, loud, swears too much and can be a bit sexist at times. He’s angry and why not. His family life sucks hardcore and he knows it. But he also knows that has to figure out his own shit before he can help them. Like I said he is flawed, but that is fine. He is a teenage boy. Earl really cares about Rachel enough that he shows her their films that no one was ever supposed to see. He knows that she’ll appreciate them and she deserves to see them.

The pacing is quick and I love that the story is told via scripts, bullet points, and lists that help with the rest of the narration. Greg also breaks the fourth wall a lot. All of this helps the reader get a better insight of who Greg is and who he wants to be. Loved it.

Things I didn’t like so much: Sometimes the pacing was bit off and you really do want to punch Greg in the face sometimes. Really hard punch to the face. But overall I didn’t have too many things I did not enjoy. This one is staying on the bookshelf and in our library.

Buy or Borrow: Buy.

Part of: Standalone

Also Recommended: If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, The Fault in our Stars by John Green and Just Listen by Sarah Dessen..

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

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