ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL is a debut YA novel written by Harvard graduate and first time author - Jesse Andrews.
I have been hearing about this novel for quite some time, but only the recent film adaptation of this book made actually purchase it and try to find the time to read it. And since the film has been shown in the cinemas this September, I had to make sure that this story finds its way onto my September TBR list.
ME: My name is Greg Gaines. I am seventeen. I am the one who wrote this book. My physical appearance is unsatisfactory, and there is probably a fungus eating my brain. I'm not even sure I'm a human.
EARL: Earl Jackson is the only person who is even sort of my friend. We make mediocre films together. Werner Herzog is our biggest influence. Earl is generally filled with violent rage.
DYING GIRL : During my senior year, my mom forced me to become friends with a girl had cancer. This brought about the destruction of my entire life.
Ok, let's start with the easy thing first. The description of the edition. I purchased the paperback published in 2012 by Amulet Books. 295 pages divided into 40 hilariously named chapters. The book has a very colourful design with illustrations by Brian Levy. There are 3 colours representing the 3 main characters of this story - Blue for Greg, Green for Earl and Red for Rachel. The design is very cleaver and eye-catching. To be honest, I really like this paperback. It is strange to say but it feels very soft. The pages are printing on what seems to be recycled paper and they are soft to the touch but at the same time they are quite thick. I am liking it.
The writing. Well I can certainly say that Jesse Andrews took a very casual approach to writing this story. It's hilarious, written in a voice of a modern day teenager. There's no brain to mouth filter. Every thought is on the paper. It creates some of the funniest sentences and thoughts I have ever read. It's a mess. But you cannot help but laugh out loud most of the time. And that's straight from the start until the very end. It's easy. No brain read. I love the original, very unique titles of each chapter.
Having said that though, I must say I was a little disappointed with the story. I was expected something completely different. Maybe some kind of a epiphany. Maybe a touching tale of loss. But instead I just thought - where is this book going? Is there a point in this story? I felt like I am getting a school report on Greg's life. And even thought it was hilariously written, it didn't charm me at all. I was forcing myself to read this book. It started so well, but at the end I had to make myself to pick up the book and find out what has happened next. Quite frankly, I thought that even if I leave the book on my book shelf - not finished reading it - I wouldn't miss much. I just felt like I don't really know what this story is about.
There is Greg, an average guy who is surviving high school by being everywhere and nowhere at the same time. There is Earl, his co-worker / best friend who seem so tough, but turns out to be more than you think. He does actually think things through, he has some kind of compassion. And then there is the dying girl - Rachel, who isn't fighting to live. She just gives up. She has no strength in beating this horrible disease. And these three form a connection by watching home-made films by Greg and Earl.
That's about it. That's all I gathered from the story. There is no point for it. I don't see the appeal so many were talking about. I don't see the charismatic story they have all been charmed by. I just see a hilariously written novel with no real plot and development. It's more like a chronicle, not a heartwarming tale.
And to be honest, we are warned at the start, that we shouldn't expect magnificent things. We shouldn't expect happy ending and some amazing, un-put-down-able tale.. But you still cannot help but hope that there is something magical about it. There must be something... Some special ingredient. Why else this story was made into a film? Why else is so loved by readers? But I have to say I don't see it. I can only appreciate the original, very funny writing style and hilariously named titles of chapters. That's it for me.
I was looking forward to see the film adaptation in the pictures, but instead I am going to wait for it to come out on DVD. This book just didn't make me talk about it. It didn't make me think about it after I finish reading it. Quite frankly, I was happy that it ended and I could read other, more interesting stories.
I am sorry Jesse Andrews, but I am not going to read your novel anytime soon again. I gave it a try but I was left disappointed.