Review: “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews

Title: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Author: Jesse Andrews
Pages: 295
Genre: YA contemporary
Published: March 1, 2012

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Quick Synopsis: 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: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has been gaining popularity for the last couple months because of the movie adaptation that recently came out. I’ve had it sitting on my shelf for quite awhile, but I’ll admit that the reason I finally read it was because I watched the movie trailer and thought it looked promising. The trailer wasn’t the only instigator though; many booktubers had raved about it, calling it a more realistic and humorous version of The Fault in Our Stars. That all sounded pretty good, so I went into the book with admittedly high expectations. Unfortunately, those expectations were far from met.

There weren’t many things that I actually liked about this book but, at the same time, it wasn’t so bad that I wanted to give it a single star either. At least it was a short book so I don’t feel as if I wasted much time reading it. The only reason it took me two sittings instead of one is because I had to take a break. I was too bored. But before I get into the negatives, I’ll say the one thing that I did like about the book: Earl. Earl’s character was the most entertaining and the most bearable. That’s not to say I absolutely loved him, but he was enjoyable enough. I thought he was a great and much needed addition to the story because he provided a break from the annoying protagonist. But that’s basically all I have to say about that. Alright. Brace yourselves now. These are the problems I had with the novel.

Stereotypes. Stereotypes. Stereotypes. I don’t know how old the author is, but it seems like he hasn’t been in high school for awhile because every single description of it was done with stereotypes. Nothing about Andrews’s descriptions were realistic, especially the part about how Greg couldn’t be seen in certain groups of people without another group getting angry. Why do some authors think that high schoolers can’t co-mingle in different groups? It’s beyond me. I also thought Earl was the ultimate African American stereotype. He comes from a poor family, their dad isn’t around, he has anger issues, his brothers are violent, his mom is always away in her room talking to men on forums, he doesn’t believe he can get into college so he doesn’t try, etc. While I still liked Earl, it just seemed as though the author had a chance to present an example of a character who could prove this stereotype wrong and he instead just feeds into it. Lastly on the stereotype front, the way the high school reacted when they saw Greg and Earl’s video toward the end seemed highly unrealistic. I won’t say more because of spoilers, but just…yeah. No.

Another aspect of the book that contributed to my disliking of it was the humor. There was attempted humor on 98 percent of the pages, but I only laughed at about one percent of the jokes. Maybe I’m just too old for these kinds of books now, but I was cringing at some of the “jokes” because they were so bad and not funny. I could see how many would really like this book if they did find it funny (it was clearly meant to be comedic), but I just didn’t get it. Along those same lines, Greg couldn’t stay serious for longer than two lines. It’s clear that humor is his defense mechanism, but God, it got annoying after while.

One last big thing that I didn’t enjoy was the writing style. This novel isn’t just told in the typical paragraphs and dialogue way. It is partially told through script (because the characters make films) and bullet points. I found that extremely distracting to read. Every time it would switch from one writing form to the next, it threw me out of the story for a moment. The narrator also liked to break the fourth wall a lot. He was constantly addressing the reader with lines like “this book sucks” or “if you’re even still reading” which irritated me. Unless you’re Lemony Snicket, please don’t tell me how I should probably “just stop reading” your book.

I didn’t care about Greg or Rachel or any character besides Earl, really. Their circumstances didn’t touch me in any way. The ending didn’t make me emotional (if anything, it made me dislike Greg even more). And the films Greg and Earl put together bored me. Yet even though there were basically zero redeeming qualities to this book, I still didn’t give it a 1 star. Why? Because I didn’t care enough to hate this book, and I guess I only really give 1 stars to books I truly hated.

My Rating: 2/5 stars

I’m still interested in watching the movie because I think I might like it more. As far as recommending this book, I’d say that if you are easily amused by immature humor or are under the age of eighteen, you’d probably enjoy this more than I did. Sorry this review was so brief and negative, but as I said before, there wasn’t much I liked about it.

On a different note, I also finished A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin (a great read) and am currently reading The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (no surprise, I’m loving it so far). I’ll have a review for one of those (probably TSR once I finish) soon. In the meantime, I want to do a post about how I rate books since I think that would be good to know for future reviews. Look out for that in the coming days.

Alrighty, that’s it for now. Leave me a comment about your thoughts on Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Do you share my opinions or do you completely disagree. I’d love to know!

Until next time, keep reading and writing! – Veronica

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