Thursday, May 22, 2014

Book Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Release Date: March 1, 2012
Info about author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Age group: YA
Pages: 295
Buy the book: Amazon - The Book Depository 

Rating: 3/5

Description (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.

MY THOUGHTS:

A girl with a cancer. A boy who rekindles his friendship with her when he finds out. From there on, he just wants to make her laugh and realize that she does not have to give up. Sounds like a setting for one of those super sad, tearjearker cancer books, right? RIGHT? If you are looking for The Fault in Our Stars 2.0, this novel for sure isn't that. 

Greg is one of those guys people who have been in big high school all must be familiar with - he seems to be friends with everyone, but in reality, no one really knows that much about him. In actuality, he only has one friend, Earl, a guy with very distinct personality. They spend time watching films and since they were 11 years old, they have been doing films of their own - mostly their own interpretations of their favorite film classics. The films they do are sacred and no one is supposed to see them. Mostly just because, according to Greg, they suck. So what happens when Rachel, the girl with cancer, actually finds these films funny?

Throughout this book, I was not quite sure what to think of Greg. He is the narrator, telling the story through different events, pretty much starting from the point he hears about Rachel's sickness. Since everything happens from the point of view of Greg, the novel does not go into much detail about the pain or feelings of Rachel - we see that she is suffering and sick, but we do not actually hear her talk about the sickness to a large extent. What we hear about is Greg and his thoughts.

I think I could put it like this: Greg is not very confident of himself. He describes himself as "pasty and fat", and he tries to turn all the uncomfortable situations into jokes. He thinks all the films he has done are crap and that the writing he is doing at the moment (the novel itself) is also a crime against the English language. I get the fact that he is in an awkward stage of his life, but at points Greg gets a bit annoying. But I think that is the whole point of the novel - Andrews wants to introduce us a character with faults, a character who, despite the fact that his friend is sick, sometimes hopes that he was not dragged into the situation. Greg is very realistic - he does not turn into a hero even though Rachel maybe would have needed a hero.

This novel is very funny - Greg's sense of humor is weird and absurd and I especially loved the different references to films. And to some extent I get Greg and the lack of confidence - I am a film student and I hate to show people what I do because I think there is always someone who could do it better than me. Earl is also very interesting character - he has a very distinct personality which comes across from the way he acts and especially from the way he speaks. Though, it has to be taken into account that everything we know about the characters is through the eyes of Greg.

It was refreshing to read a novel from a male point-of-view - many of the young adult novels I have read in the past have been from the female POV, which of course makes it easier to identify with the character, but at the same time makes it harder to sometimes understand all of the actions of the male character. There were some parts in the narration that probably come across better to a male reader, but other than that, I really enjoyed the male narrative voice.

All and all, I really liked Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and will definitely read more from Jesse Andrews if possibility for that is given. According to IMDB this book will be adapted into a film, which I think could be a very hilarious one if they do it right. JONAH HILL FOR GREG! (I feel like always when there is a character who is not a "typical" hottie, I say that Jonah Hill would be perfect).

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