Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Published in 2012, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has been blowing up with attention recently, resulting in a movie that was just released on the big screen a few days ago. After reading the book, I'm siding with the masses and making it known that I totally loved every page in this great novel.
It's hard to believe that this book was a debut and that Jesse Andrews isn't a seasoned novelist by the ease with which he injected his humor and wit into this book. After finishing it, I regret even more than before not being able to attend his BEA panel (it wasn't my fault okay, I couldn't just bolt from my hospital room in another state) but I'm glad my co-bloggers got the experience and I've been following him on Twitter -- I was told his tweets are as funny as his speaking was -- and I find him just wonderful. So I'm already enamored with this author and impressed by how well he can word things just in his every day life and once I started to read the book I immediately loved the voice of the novel. Not only did Andrews' own unique sense of humor make its way into the writing, there was something else in the voice that belonged entirely to the characters.
Each character spoke so distinctly and had so much entertainment value in reading about. Greg, the "me" from the title and the first person point of view narrator, proved to us how he was internally honestly kind of a jerk but probably meant well deep down. He went on tangents, he made lists, he separated incidents in his life into scenes from a movie script. All in all, it was very interesting. Earl is up next. He's Greg's only friend and they make movies together that are mostly terrible (okay, all terrible). Earl was hysterical so much of the time, with so many of his conversations with Greg, but delivered a few hard truths and also providing some of the necessary pushes needed to incite action. I totally loved Earl and how down to earth he was although I think if I was his friend in real life I would have more argumentative conversations with him. Anyway, his voice was great and I loved chapters about him or involving him. Rachel (the dying girl) was interesting to see because we saw her through Greg's eyes so when he didn't want to be there she was described as being boring but when he got to know her she was a "good listener" and "opened up." I really enjoyed seeing that progression and how all the characters influence one another.
I touched on this before, but another thing I really like was the way the story was told with the way it wasn't just a strict progression of "this happened and then this happened" typical novel form and it was broken up into things like screenplay formatting, and bullet point lists, and breaking the fourth wall and talking about how this book probably sucks and why are you still reading, kindof like it was a journal but it wasn't a journal it was a book. Not only was it refreshing, but it was very interesting and I liked all those inserted parts because they were always super entertaining.
Also, I keep mentioning how the book was hilarious, but it was also poignant and I found myself emotionally compromised at certain points without expecting to be at all. And I know the book promises a dying girl in the title so you'd expect it but when you start reading you do not expect o be sad at all so the scenes that really get you in your gut you do not see coming at all. It's great.
Overall, I loved this novel. I loved the story, I loved the way it was told, and I am so happy I had the chance to read this book and now I cannot wait until I watch the movie and see the story up on the screen.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
First things first: Jesse Andrews is the realest. I got to go to that panel that Noor mentioned before, and let me just say, Jesse Andrews is hilarious and it's true, his twitter provides some insight into that personality! While I've heard of this book before, I didn't pay much attention to it until I heard about the movie but to be honest, until I heard Andrews speak. It was then that I decided I needed to read the book and see the movie and while I'm still waiting on seeing the movie until it comes around to New Jersey, I read the book just days after BEA/BookCon and needless to say, I loved it.
Let me just start by saying: if you don't like sad books, and are afraid of reading this out of the idea that it's sad (hint: dying girl is in the title), I wouldn't worry too much. This book is written with a certain humor that takes a few very sad tropes and makes the reader laugh. I know a lot of people that don't read books to be sad so they avoid these kinds of titles, but this book definitely falls out of that category so do not fret, and read this.
So Greg, our main character, is the heart of all of this humor. While reading the book I could sense so much of Jesse Andrews' voice, but somehow, even with the very obvious inclusion of the voice of the author, shone the distinct voices of Greg, Earl, and even Rachel.
Like Noor touches on, Greg is kind of a jerk -- but let us be honest: most people are jerks. Most people will not face a life altering moment or person that will flip everything upside down and change our lives instantly. Character development is slow and tedious and even so, not everything about a person will change, especially not because of being party to the lives of one or two other people. I think the best part of the novel was the development of Greg's character while staying true to himself. Events that might be considered an immediate turning point in the novel aren't, and more importantly, they embarrass Greg, which I'd just like to say how much I liked Greg's character's embarrassment, because I find that the awkwardness of that particular emotion doesn't always come across in most books I've read, and I truly loved that I could feel awkward alongside Greg while also rooting for Earl and Rachel. This is so reminiscent of how high school actually was and a way more accurate rendition of actual character development than I had read in a long time.
Earl and Rachel are also incredibly vivid characters, both of whom have really separate voices that contributed more to the story than I thought they would when first reading Greg's PoV -- I guess because the book was written in a journal format, we found out what events were important and who was important to Greg's life, because as Greg says so many times over, the book is not about cancer or death. Cancer and death are just /apart/ of the book, which is pretty true in real life too.
And with all of these mature themes, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was so funny, and so lighthearted. I love love loved it, and my only critique is only that the next Jesse Andrews book isn't out yet. Can't wait to see the movie and can't wait to read anything else this man writes.
Have you read anything hilarious lately?
Let us know in the comments!
Let us know in the comments!