Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Book review: 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl'

me and earl and the dying girl book review

This review is a strange one for me to write because one of my friends recommended this book to me, plus it's so popular that it has been made into a movie that critics and audiences both loved. But I did not like it at all. I don't think I hated it, but my feelings are close to that. (Warning: a few spoilers ahead)

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl seemed like an interesting concept. I first learned about it with the movie previews, so I had a little bit different expectations than what I would have if I had I just picked up the book on its own. But on the other side of that, I didn't see a lot of previews for Me and Earl, so I didn't have a lot of expectations at all. I just knew that it was about a guy who's mom made him hang out with a girl in his class who was recently diagnosed with cancer. And that it wasn't a sappy teenage love story. Because he explicitly states that. So that's what I knew about this book.

I was open-minded going into it, but Me and Earl just wasn't my type of book. There was no point where I actually wanted to keep reading. The only reason I did was because I hate the feeling of not finishing a book. Let's start with the technical parts: The writing was good. Jesse Andrews is a screenwriter-turned-author, and this is his debut novel. You've got to give the guy major props for landing a movie deal with his first book, am I right? So the writing was good for the most part, but I didn't like how he often broke into screenwriting form. I understand that he's playing up to his strengths, and that it makes sense for the story because Greg (the "Me" in the title) is a filmmaker, but it felt awkward and broke up the flow of the book.

As for the story, the synopsis I gave at the beginning really does sum up the book. There's not much more than that except for Greg's awkward social encounters with just about everyone, the history of his filmmaking and not-quite-friendship with Earl, and how he tries to make a film for Rachel (the Dying Girl) and fails miserably. I couldn't stand Greg because he made EVERYTHING so awkward. I mean, I get that he's a hormonal teenage boy, but can he really not have a normal 2-minute conversation with a pretty girl? Apparently not.

The part I really hated was how little emotion he had. Even after all the time spent with Rachel and watching her go through chemo, Greg still wasn't all that much troubled by her death. You know how we always complain about the stereotypical happy endings when everything is wrapped up all nice with a bow at the end of a movie or book? I'm the same way — why can't we have realistic movies, the endings aren't always happy, blah blah blah. Well, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl doesn't have a happy ending. It has a (probably) realistic ending. And to me, it kind of sucked. So, maybe I do want the stereotypical happy endings only?

I still want to see the movie version, because I think I'll actually like it better than the book, but I can't recommend a book I didn't like. So if you liked Me and Earl, I'd love to hear your thoughts. If you didn't like it, I'd love to share opinions. And if you haven't read it, I'd recommend you pick up Saint Anything instead.

Have you read Me and Earl and the Dying Girl? Share your thoughts below...I'd love to hear what all of you really thought of it!

P.S. Reviews of Saint Anything, Paper Towns and The Girl on the Train

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