“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews
Released: March 1, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Humor, Fiction
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.
This book caught my interest due to the unique cover, it was added to my list. Then, the movie was coming out and I like to read books before seeing the movie, if I know beforehand it’s a book. But I never saw the movie and still haven’t. I heard it’s good which hasn’t done much for me as I didn’t really like the book. It was disappointing. I understood the point which was fine but it’s just not my kind of book I guess. I think it’s one of those either you like it or you don’t.
The Cover. It’s a nice cover, the picture is above and the saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” doesn’t always apply because when I looked at this cover, it seems like I would like it. It’s so unique. I also appreciated the inclusion of an African-American character, especially on such an interesting cover. I liked the “puppet” look too.
The writing style. The script like form was different. I read a lot of books, especially a lot of young adult and I have yet to come across a non-play (lol) that is written like one. It has bullet points, names for dialogue and all that was unique and pretty great.
The inclusion of Earl & Greg’s films. The two were completely different people but managed to find middle ground and a friendship due to their enjoyment of movies. The fact that they recreate movies they like in odd and original ways was fun and interesting to read about. Both of the boys recognized their films were bad but they were fun and that’s all that mattered to them. They weren’t doing it to be famous one day, or to put their work on the internet for other people’s enjoyment, they did it because they liked it and it was fun. That’s refreshing. Everyone’s always doing something for recognition or fame, and they just wanted to have fun. Not to mention, they were also afraid to share them due to their horrible film-making.
Earl Jackson. I liked him because he was unapologetic. I didn’t care for his potty mouth and his broken stereotypical circumstances but as a separate entity, I enjoyed him for the most part. He was strong, sarcastic, firm and really short lol. It actually made me think of a really good friend I had back in middle school. He was small, but loud and I think that’s why I took a liking to Earl. I also appreciated his initiative. Earl seemed business savvy, smart and he liked to take charge and get things done. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think Greg would have made anymore “effort” to visit Rachel. Plus, Earl actually liked Rachel, their friendship was way more believable than either of them being friends with Greg.
The adults (Greg’s dad and the professor). I forget the teacher’s name but this is just a quick bullet point. Mr. Gaines is the one who introduced Greg and Earl to the films they ended up remaking, he was weird but smart, insightful, wasn’t as pushy or a busybody like Mrs. Gaines. He tried to be helpful to the boys in terms of their personal growth and their ideals and didn’t try to push his own onto them. He was very chill. Same with the professor. His parts were short but they were amusing, I think it was during his scenes that I chuckled.
The characters. I hate to put characters in the cons list but this is so true. I did not like any of them except for the ones I named in my pros list and even then was pushing it.
- Greg Gaines. Being the main character and the one telling the story, you would think I would feel something for him. Not all leading characters are likeable but my goodness. I couldn’t enjoy the story due to his constant negativity. Every chapter ended with him saying “this book is dumb”, “I don’t even know why you’re still reading it” etc. I began asking myself that very question. I even find people who are constantly self-deprecating kind of annoying because at what point… do you see past that? He described himself to be less (probably then what he is, who knows?) but he apparently managed to be friends with every clique. For someone to feel so mediocre, how did he manage to get in good with everyone in school without actually being part of their “clique”? I didn’t believe that. I understood that he didn’t want to spend time with Rachel but jeeze complain some more why don’t you?
- I didn’t necessarily dislike Rachel but she was uninteresting. The only thing I can say was defining about her is that she had cancer. I liked that she got involved with their films in that she loved watching them. I felt bad for her when she died (I mean it’s not so much a spoiler as it’s in the title) but I didn’t react in a way that would make me cry, or feel emotional. If the point was the audience wouldn’t get the chance to really know because Greg didn’t really put in the effort then okay, I give the author points for that. However, I don’t care for that. She’s a big part of the story and as the reader, I should understand why Greg felt the need to want to make a movie about her and for her even if it was just because.
The humor. I like funny books, I love when the characters, or the situation makes me laugh. But… this was not funny like I think the author wanted it to be. I understood the jokes but they weren’t funny. Greg and Earl had this really gross humor but it was weird. Fart jokes are gross and sometimes, if done right, they’re funny, but puke humor, isn’t. There was this awkward scene where Greg was sitting with the popular girls including his long time crush Madison (who is the one to convince him to make a film about Rachel because omg she’s dying that’s so sad). In this scene, he’s telling this ridiculous story about alien barf and she and the others at the table are eating it up and crying with laughter. I’m confused by this because it’s not funny. There’s also jokes about motor-boating Madison and no. When they got accidentally high was probably the only funny part.
Earl’s circumstances/potty mouth etc. I did not like the descriptions of Earl’s home life. I did not appreciate it at all. It was so stereotypical for this short, foul mouthed, angry black kid, who always sounds like he’s angry when he talks. I wanted to fully enjoy him as a character but there were times when I just couldn’t because it just irritated me so much! He has a large family, his father is absent, his mother is an alcoholic who gets involved with many guys, Earl smokes cigarettes, did tons of drugs as kid and all of his brothers have issues: one of them is a 13 year old gangbanger, they’re involved in drugs, so much violence not to mention the gross amounts of profanity. No. One of the things I liked about Earl was his business mind, he was a smart kid, he knows this, but later Earl and Greg talk, they both decide to stop film making due to their mediocre film about Rachel being shown at a school pep rally. Earl talks about how he wants to leave his crappy house and life, to stop living in this position where he does everything for everyone. He doesn’t want to leave his family on their own but he has to. That was actually compelling but he just aims so low. I’m not knocking anyone who uses Fast Food as their startup, but seeing how smart he was, I think he could have gotten a scholarship just like Greg said he could. Earl didn’t even want to try that. I don’t know, wanting to work at Wendy’s to move out, is fine but… that’s all?? *sighs* It just didn’t sit well with me at all. Greg decided to become a film major and go to college but Earl just settles?
This isn’t really a bullet point but… Earl is described as having a perpetual pissed off look, violent tendencies and he sounds like he’s angry, who also doesn’t seem to speak very well all of the time… then Greg later describes their principal, another black character the exact same way. A perpetual pissed off look and an angry tone to his voice. It was so exciting to see a black kid on the cover, because he’s gonna be important but it just… crumbled. Outside of things I mentioned in my pros list about him, there’s a lot that the author did that I did not like, as a black woman.
Overall, I read this book a while ago and I did not care for it. Any time someone asks me about it now, brings up the film or talk about it, I realize I really really didn’t like it. It wasn’t different, or alternative, or the “anti-The Fault in Our Stars” as I actually saw someone say before. It didn’t do anything for me outside of minor things.
2 out of 5 stars. Half of one of those stars goes towards the cover.