Saturday, 25 April 2015

REVIEW || Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Book Title: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Author: Jesse Andrews
Publisher: Allen & Unwin UK, 18th June, 2015
Format: Paperback, 259 pages
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
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.

Me and Earl is a fiendishly clever book, though you might not see it like that. It has taken the YA cancer trope and made it into something completely desensitized when compared to the likes of The Fault in Our Stars, but in reality it’s a completely stark and pretty entertaining look at the topic of cancer in YA and most importantly the characters themselves. In Me and Earl the most striking thing is the characters and their ‘larger-than-life’ personalities, they are a completely real and true to the “occasional” [sarcastic quotation marks there] stupidity of a teenager – and this definitely comes across in the narration, all of which is done by the main character Greg Gaines. Who by all rights should be the most annoying narrator ever, but for some reason how he spoke and how the novel was written didn't irritate me like it normally would.

This book is very much like one of the Gaines/Jackson films; Rachel the Film – it’s a mishmash of nearly everything and when you think about it, it’s kind of terrible, but when you’re actually reading the book it works quite well and to great effect. Basically you’ll end up thinking three quarters of the book is a bunch of (brilliant) pretext with almost zero plot development and then the last quarter is a bit of a punch in the gut. It’s not your run of the mill contemporary novel, you could say. 

Andrews' book echoed the likes of Andrew Smith, and had brilliant chapter headings that I loved chuckling at. I don't think I can really reiterate how incredibly true I found Me and Earl to be, it has a sense of humor of its own that probably won't appeal to everyone, but me, being the bad-pun loving gal that I am, adored the humor. Whilst I never emotionally connected with this book until near the end (and it was a tenuous connection at that point) I don't think its the point of the story, to be some massive emotional spiral and therefore that fact doesn't bother me at all. The only downside I can think of is that whilst most of these aspects contributed to me really liking the book, they also won't appeal to some readers.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book; it was funny, honest, contained ridiculous teenage profanity, and I ended up loving the characters too. Andrews' has brought new life to a trope in YA that I've stayed away from for a long while and for that, I thank him. In the end Me and Earl was geniunely very touching, not in a crying way, but in the way where you ultimately do feel bittersweet about leaving the book and its characters behind. If you're a fan of honest contemporaries, and have enjoyed the works of a one Mr. Andrew Smith then do definitely pick up Me and Earl!

Rating = 3.5 Bookish Birds

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has also been made into a movie, due to be released in the UK on the 11th of September this year and Jesse Andrews also wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation! Its already had some really great praise, and I can see why; from the trailer it looks so fantastic. I'm really excited to see what happens with the film and how it differs from the book - you can see the trailer of the movie below!

1 comment:

  1. I've been meaning to read this for ages and I'm now more intrigued by this 'mishmash' narration you speak of ;P (Although a little cautious and scared I might not like it.. :/) And ooo, didn't know it's a film. Gunna have to jump on that book before the film cover takes over :P Great review Fi! x


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