Release Date: March 1, 2012
Publisher: Henry N. Abrams
Add it: Goodreads
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
And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.
Me and Earl and The Dying Girl is an unusual novel. Truthfully, I’m not really sure whether I mean that as a compliment or not. Following in the footsteps of trendy YA novelists like David Levithan and John Green, Me and Earl and The Dying Girl has the typical misfit white dude protagonist whose narration is interspersed with cynical wit and quotable lines. Also there is ~personal tragedy~ as well as a way more charismatic best friend.
So Greg, our main man, is a teenage boy who is apparently very proud of the fact that he has no friends?? Like a lot of YA written in this vein, Greg is inexplicably preoccupied with the social hierarchy of his high school, going so far as to describe every little group and all the various ways he escapes notice by everyone. Greg’s plans for remaining invisible are ruined when he’s told that an old friend is dying. And this is where I lost the thread of the novel tbh – Greg legit spends the rest of the book fumbling around this fact, not really knowing how to behave and ultimately fucking up the one job he had. I mean, I just don’t get it? There’s this entire plot about a dying girl but she’s not really in the book very much, and the scenes she does have are ones in which she’s more or less silent while Greg babbles to fill silences. It just feels a little bit too much like Rachel, our dying girl, was a plot device to serve Greg – when she dies the rest of the novel is taken up with Greg’s angst and regrets. My main complaint with John Green’s novels are that he always focused on the dudes, leaving the interesting female characters as unattainable mysteries and that is a theme that can be found in Me and Earl and The Dying Girl.
This is probably a really flat review but tbh I didn’t enjoy this novel, finding it increasingly tedious as it progressed. I just don’t care for books which favour boring dude angst over actual character development.