me and earl and the dying girl by jesse andrews
Description: Stand-alone YA contemporary
Publishing Details: Released 03/01/2012 by Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
First Line: I have no idea how to write this stupid book.
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summary (from goodreads)
It is a universally acknowledged truth that high school sucks. But on the first day of his senior year, Greg Gaines thinks he’s figured it out: the answer to the basic existential question, how is it possible to exist in a place that sucks so bad? His strategy: Remain at the periphery at all times. Keep an insanely low profile. Make mediocre films with the one person who is even sort of his friend, Earl.
This plan works for exactly eight hours. Then Greg’s mom forces him to become friends with a girl who has cancer. This brings about the destruction of Greg’s entire life.
Pros & cons
Cover Review: I absolutely love this cover. I’m really liking simplistic covers lately, and this is one of my favorites. The texture is also super cool, which is a plus. As you can see, I have the yellow “revised edition”. I don’t know if the revised version is any different from the original, but if it is, just letting you know, this is the one I read.
So if you’ve been following the saga that is my updates of my reading progress within this book on Goodreads, you’ve probably been wondering when and if I’ll ever finish and review this book, and if I do review it how incredibly negative it’s going to be. But now I’ve finally finished this book and this issue is, I have no idea how to review it.
I honestly didn’t hate it. My issue was that the things that I liked about this book I loved – to me they were elements that, when compiled into a book, I would normally find easy to rate five stars. My second issue was that the things I disliked about this book frustrated me to no end… to the point where I wanted to stop reading it.
I guess the obvious solution would seem to be to rate it right in the middle: three stars. But to me it was more than three stars, because in my opinion three stars means okay. But this book was really okay. It was good okay. GAH. Let’s just get into it.
I loved the writing style of this book. I loved that we had scripted dialogue, normal narrative, bullet points, numbered lists – all of it. It made the book fly by (even though I took long breaks in between when I read it) and made it super enjoyable. The narrative itself was just hilarious. All of it had a light feel to it, like the entire book was just a person telling you this super crazy story and they’re also amazing at telling stories, so you can’t help but smile.
However, there was a ton of vulgar language in this book which really, really took a lot away from it. While the entire story felt incredibly real and raw because of the awkwardness and the conversations and all of that, it seemed like all of the swearing took a lot more away from the story than it added. It was distracting, it was annoying, and for someone who just really hates swearing it was enough to make me almost put this book down altogether… and if there’s one thing I hate more than swearing, it’s not finishing a book.
My other biggest issue was Rachel, who is the person referred to as “the dying girl” in the title. It’s fitting that that was the title given to her right off the bat, because that seems to be the only reason that she’s in the book: because she’s the dying girl. This sounds horrible, but I found it incredibly true and frustrating. Rachel had little to no personality other than just laughing hysterically at Greg’s jokes (which were funny occasionally… but were they really that funny?). I really wanted to grow attached to her as a character and care for her but I found it nearly impossible as she didn’t go through any character development and had no backstory.
Despite this, Jesse Andrews did prove that he can write character development with Earl’s character. Though it wasn’t very foreshadowed, I loved the transformation from beginning of the book Earl to end. Earl was my least favorite character for the first half or so (mainly because he was the cause for all of the unnecessary profanity), but by the end of the book he definitely had some redeeming qualities.
While I would’ve liked to see a little more character development in Greg, I thought it was pretty plain to see (read?) that he was changing and learning throughout the story, served to make him less frustrating.
And – so that we can end on a high note – I loved how real this book was. I kind of went into this before, but the sheer awkwardness of the conversations of this book made it feel so much more realistic. There were moments where I felt myself getting secondhand embarrassment for Greg, and I loved that half of the time these moments weren’t even relevant to the story, they were just thrown in because that’s the type of narrator Greg is and that’s how life is.
All in all, this book was pretty enjoyable. My largest issue with it was all of the swearing and vulgarity, which is really a personal dislike. If you have no issue with that, you’ll probably really enjoy this book, because aside from mostly those moments I really did too. I know it seemed like I hated this book and I don’t want to put anyone off from reading it because I know that a lot of people really loved this book, and just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean you won’t like it. I had a really hard time rating this book because I was entertained every second I was reading it but I had many issues with it. I decided on a 3.5, but this is a very good 3.5 book (but at the same time a pretty bad 3.5 book?).