Marmite. Is at first what came into my mind when finishing this book; your either going to love it or hate it. For me, I really enjoyed it and found it really funny and emotional. A lot of people are beginning to compare it to ‘The Fault in our Stars’ but in my opinion they can’t be compared. There’s something different about this book which sets it apart from other typical young adult novels that feature illness.
Greg is your typical teenage boy who has mastered the art of disappearing in a social environment; to many he’s invisible.He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of classics. Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel. Rachel has been diagnosed with leukaemia and 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.
This book was honest. From the dialogue to the ending. And that is one of the main reasons for liking it. It honestly mainly came from the fact that is was so realistic because they were just people and you weren’t manipulated into feeling something for them.
“There was just something about her dying that I had understood but not really understood, if you know what I mean. I mean, you can know someone is dying on an intellectual level, but emotionally it hasn’t really hit you, and then when it does, that’s when you feel like shit.”
The characters were one of the reasons this book is different than many others. They are all completely different but at the same time all fit the same puzzle that is their friendship. Greg is your average character. Nothing special just your typical teenage boy who constantly thinks about ‘boobs and girls’ which at times I have to admit I did get quite annoyed at. At the same time he’s awkward but funny which I really liked about him and his character development was brilliant as he came to realise the important things in life and the challenges cancer causes.
Earl, however, is angry, enjoys eating gross food, and can, quite frankly, be downright disgusting. I would’ve liked to see a bit more character development from both Earl and Rachel, but as we’re seeing them through the eyes of Greg, it is understandable that we can only see them in a certain way.
Another thing Andrews does which I really enjoyed and thought was done really well was the notion of breaking the fourth wall and creating that connection with the reader. The entire book is filled with quips and jokes and instructions directly to the reader. It’s like a diary, with lists and bullet points and scripts.
“If after reading this book you come to my home and brutally murder me, I do not blame you.”
It was also really funny. Being classed by many as a ‘cancer book’ you wouldn’t expect it to be funny or have yourself laughing repeatedly but I thought it worked really well. The balance of seriousness and humour was perfect and at times I did find myself tearing up and experiencing all the ‘feels’!
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a must-read for YA contemporary fans, imbued with hilarity, grief, and a real understanding of how teenagers think like I’ve never seen before. I was pleasantly surprised in reading this and I am happy to give it 4/5 stars.