"Hey, I heard you got leukemia. Sounds like you need an emergency prescription...for Greg-acil."
Description: 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.
I wanted to wait a little while before writing a review on this book because I felt so conflicted about it. It’s obvious from the start that Me and Earl and the Dying Girl isn’t your typical, TFiOS-esque, YA “cancer book”. In fact, dealing with cancer isn’t even a major part of the plot; it almost seems as though it’s a parody of the YA “cancer book” trend since Greg constantly makes light of Rachel’s condition.
Greg’s voice is both my favorite and least favorite part of the book. He has such a quirky and self-deprecating sense of humor, but after a while, it seems like the author was trying too hard to make Greg seem relatable. For instance, Greg constantly criticizes his writing style, his personality, and basically everything about himself throughout the book and even says the following:
“If after reading this book you come to my home and brutally murder me, I do not blame you.”
Because I am one (until next month), I totally understand that teenagers are goofy and melodramatic, but there were multiple quotes like this one, and it wasn’t long before it started getting old. As a whole, the teenagers in this book refreshingly acted normally and realistically, but Greg’s borderline obnoxious voice made it difficult to connect with the characters.
At this point, I’m going to discuss the ending, and there are some mild spoilers…you have been warned!
For me, the ending definitely fell flat. In a sense, I think that was the author’s intention; since this isn’t a sweeping, beautiful, cancer filled romance brimming with angst and drama, it would make sense that the ending would be just as ordinary as the rest of the book. After all, Greg wasn’t terribly close with Rachel, so it would make sense that he wouldn’t be drastically impacted by her death.
Still, I was genuinely confused after the last chapter because I was reading the movie edition on my Kindle. There was some bonus content that consisted of about fifteen percent of the book at the end, so I assumed there would be a few more chapters or an epilogue somewhere mixed in. After frantically searching throughout the author interview and screenplay and such, I realized that the book was in fact over, which was a bit of a disappointment.
As a whole, I liked Me and Earl and the Dying Girl; it’s a quick, witty read that made me both scoff and laugh out loud. It wasn’t one of those books where the plot and characters really resonated with me after I put it down, so think some of the hype surrounding this book is a bit much. If you want to read something that’s unique from a lot of other contemporaries out there, I suppose I’d recommend it, but I honestly don’t feel very strongly about this one. However, I do want to see the movie because I think this story would translate so much better on screen.
If you want to discuss the book further, feel free to contribute in the comments section!
Thanks for reading,