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

2

March 1, 2012 by Heidi

Book cover of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Title: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: Jesse Andrews [Website]
Standing: Stand alone novel.
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Published: March 1st, 2012 by Amulet Books
Format: Kindle edition.
Source: ARC from publisher via NetGalley.

Challenge: Completely Contemp Challenge.Greg has managed to make it to his senior year in high school hanging on the periphery of every group.  Sure, he has no friends, but he also has no enemies trying to destroy his life either.  Until Rachel, the girl he almost-kind-of dated in Hebrew school, but hasn’t talked to since, gets cancer and his mother insists they hang out.  His hanging out with Rachel starts to change his position in high school, as does her discovery of his underground movie making hobby with his friend Earl.

What started out as a laugh out loud funny book, manage to lose my interest, humor, and attention entirely by its end.  It might just be me, but when a book is self-effacing to the point of continually telling you how much it sucks and why you should be reading something else, eventually I start to believe it.  Here’s just a couple of the many examples:

I do actually want to say one other thing before we get started with this horrifyingly inane book.  You may have already figured out that it’s about a girl who had cancer.  So there’s a chance you’re thinking, “Awesome!  This is going to be a wise and insightful story about love and death and growing up.  It is probably going to make me cry literally the entire time.  I am so fired up right now.”  If that is an accurate representation of your thoughts, you should probably try to smush this book into a garbage disposal and then run away.  Because here’s the thing: I learned absolutely nothing from Rachel’s leukemia.  In fact, I probably became stupider about life because of the whole thing.

I can’t believe you’re still reading this.  You should smack yourself in the face a couple of times right now, just to complete the outstandingly stupid experience that is this book.

Maybe you should think about switching to a different book.  Even to, like, an owner’s manual to a refrigerator or something.  That would be more heartwarming than this.

The first time was funny, but by the end I was thinking ‘why yes, I would rather be reading an owner’s manual to a refrigerator atm’.  I suppose this is in part because we did just get a new refrigerator and I’m excited about water magically appearing strait from the door in the way it has at my parents house for as long as I can remember, but part of it had to be that I really got over Me and Earl and the Dying Girl before it was through.

Our narrator, Greg, is your classic pudgy, pasty, awkwardly funny Jewish kid.  He had me laughing out loud a lot for the first quarter or so of the book.  However, after that, it started to feel like he was just trying too hard.  At everything.  Greg wants so badly for everyone to like him that he goes to great lengths to never be friends with anyone.  He tries so hard to make people laugh that he’ll run any bit that gets a chuckle into the ground.  By the end, the only humor I was actually gleaming was from Earl, who wasn’t even trying to be funny (and therefore was).  Greg was well aware of his flaws, he spent pages degrading himself and demolishing his self-worth over his self-centered attitude and lack of empathy.  Earl at one point goes off about the people in his life that he’d love to help, but the unfortunate reality is that you can’t help people who won’t first help themselves.  He was right, but of course Greg doesn’t really get the point.  Sure, he tells you up front he learns nothing, there’s no touching moments, etc., I just suppose I should have taken him more seriously. It’s not that I need every story to be emotionally touching, but I do need to like the characters I’m supposedly cheering for, or if I don’t like the characters I like to have a compelling story. I didn’t feel really keyed into the story or the characters, and was therefore disappointed.

I was hoping for a cancer book with more humor and less tears.  Did I get it?  Yes.  Just not to the extent that I was hoping.  The author included scenes written in script format, which was clever giving the movie-making premise of the book, as well as a number of lists both numbered and bulleted.  To me, I wish he’d stuck with one thing, or made it less mish-mash, as was it came across a bit gimicky.  I will say that I adored the paper artwork cover, which is what attracted me to the book in the first place.  

A lot of people will probably appreciate this book more than I did, but to me, this book was that kid that’s always hanging around trying way too hard to make everyone laugh and just making everything awkward because he’s not really that funny.  I never liked that kid much, and I didn’t really like this book much either.Likelihood that I’ll be back for more:  No thanks.  This wasn’t the worst thing I’ve read all year, but I was quite ready to be done.

Recommended for:  People who want a more humorous cancer book, people who enjoy books that play around with formatting.

Real life repercussions of reading this book:  One thing I did love about Greg?  Creative swearing!  I adore creative swearing (dicksmuggler, cockwagon, etc.), and really need to get on that more.

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2 comments »

  1. I think I was always kind of friendly with the tries too hard kid or actually am the tries to hard to be funny kid, and thus really liked Me And Earl And The Dying Girl.Sorry it wasn't your favorite :-(Also, I do have to say I would love a fridge that dispenses water, rather than getting water from the faucet. My parents' fridge could dispense water and ice. It was AWESOME.

  2. Heidi says:

    This book just wasn't for me, but I'm glad to see so many others have thoroughly enjoyed it. And yes! It's so sad that we don't even think about things like water and ice from the fridge growing up with it and then we move out and get sad fridges and miss it like crazy. 😛

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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