Book Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Title/Author:  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic, Humor

Published:  March 1st, 2012 by Amulet Books (That’s Today!)

E-book, 304 pages

How I Got This Book:  Received it as an ARC review from Netgalley

Why I Picked It Up?:  The summary sounded cute and like something I might enjoy.

Book Jacket Blurb:  “Up until senior year, Greg has maintained total social invisibility. He only has one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time—when not playing video games and avoiding Earl’s terrifying brothers— making movies, their own versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics. Greg would be the first one to tell you his movies are f*@$ing terrible, but he and Earl don’t make them for other people. Until Rachel.

Rachel has leukemia, and Greg’s mom gets the genius idea that Greg should befriend her. Against his better judgment and despite his extreme awkwardness, he does. When Rachel decides to stop treatment, Greg and Earl make her a movie, and Greg must abandon invisibility and make a stand. It’s a hilarious, outrageous, and truthful look at death and high school by a prodigiously talented debut author.”

My Review of the Work:

Wow.  I must say, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into when I started this book.  But I just have to say upfront, this is a unique and enjoyable read.

Why I say unique?  There are a couple of reasons for the “unique” label.  For starters, the narrative voice is unlike anything else I have ever read before (well, I say that…it could probably be equated to the boy version of the Georgia Nicholson books).  Greg is a quirky and weird high school senior who loves movies, and that is exactly what we get with his first person narration.  What this boy thinks is exactly what this boy says, with no reader’s filter, which is both refreshing and a little…uhhh….awkward I suppose.  As I am not a boy, to be so privy to the teenage boy mind–and I mean to ALL of the teenage boy’s mind–is a little unsettling sometimes, but it does bring a very unique and humorous tone to this novel.

***Warning!  There is quite a lot of severe language usage as well as sexual references that are sometimes vulgar, thanks to the unique character of Earl, that is probably not suitable for the younger YA readers.  So be warned before you pick up a copy or give a copy to your child.  This novel is written from the unfiltered, unsensored view of a 17/18 year old boy.***

Then I have to say that the format of this novel is extremely unique.  Jesse Andrews uses not only normal prose but also script writing and bulleted lists, offering the reader a refreshing take on an adolescent’s narrative.

Why I say enjoyable?  The characters in this novel–Greg, Earl, and Rachel–are charismatic and interesting, and enjoyable to read about, though I must admit, sometimes they are a bit exhausting.  But Greg and Earl’s friendship history adds to the sillyness of this novel.  Earl is perhaps my favorite character, from his attitudes to his language to his genuineness.  The banter between these characters add humor and easy to the storyline.

There are a couple of negatives, but they may have more to do with the fact that I received an ARC e-book of this novel.  But there are a lot of page breaks that are really awkward, especially during the script portions.  And there were some typos and formatting issues that kind of annoyed me, but I am hoping that those mistakes will not be repeated in the physical copy form.  Aside from general formatting, there were also some awkward chapter transitions.  Some I thought were absolutely brilliant, and some I found myself to be really confused and kind of lost.  But again, that is probably intentional because of who the narrative voice is.  I just prefer cleaner chapter cuts that make sense to me.

Also, I do understand that it is the author’s chosen style, but really, there is just a little too much langugae and vulgarity in this book, almost to the point where it takes away from the novel itself–but not quite to that point.  I know that this novel probably replicates the teenage boy’s mind to a T, but as I am a female, I could do with a little bit of boy-brain filtering.

Overall, this book is an enjoyable read for the older YA readers.  It addresses meaningful life challenges in a humorous, yet serious, way.  This is a solid read that is very different from other YA books I have read recently.

My Bookshelf Rating:

A Middle Shelf Book.

A quirky, unique, and enjoyable read.  But must be read with discresion.  Severe language and sexual references.  Likeable characters and unique style. Definitely a solid read, but nothing I will rave about.

Love and Warm Vanilla Candles,
Jennifer

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