This will be the first review I’ve done where I’m not completely ecstatic about the book.
I kept seeing Me and Earl and the Dying Girl pop up all over the bookstore, and I’d put off buying it time after time after time, but eventually the inevitable happened: I gave in; I bought the book.
So Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is written by Jesse Andrews, and he claims in the Author’s note that he isn’t a novelist, and when you read you find that his claim is quite obvious. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Yes, much of the book is written in script format, and yes the entire book is extremely casual, but I don’t think either of those things are necessarily bad, when done well.
While there are certainly no rules against utilizing a script format in a novel, it can however distract you from the novel itself. When he abruptly changes into script format, he takes me slightly out of the story, and the exchanges feel choppy. It’s like he decided he couldn’t get over his writer’s block that happened when he described the scene, so he reverted to his comfort zone. But that’s the one thing that makes a novel a novel and not a play: description. While you can get the point out of a play without description, it’s a different reading experience, and when I want that reading experience, I’ll read a play.
Now I say you can do this if you do it right, and I honestly don’t think I can tell you how, because that is not my area of expertise. It just didn’t feel right is all.
But I have to say that in a way it worked in his favor, only because of the main character itself. The protagonist, Greg, produces home movies, and so the script format may be sometimes how he thinks or documents his life. That is actually a cool twist, and the only reason I’m okay with the format. Like I said, I don’t hate the book by any means. It just isn’t my favorite.
There are some other reasons that I like it. I like it because he didn’t copy John Green. Like he asserts, he doesn’t have the sappy love story (I love The Fault in Our Stars, by the way, so I’m not trying to put it down) or meaningful fight for one’s life (also a good thing, just a cliche in literature). I like it because it was original, however disappointing it was.
Greg is a horrible person. That’s pretty much what you get from the book. Greg is a horrible human, but at least he knows it, and while the literature person in me is like that’s quite brilliant, the real life person in me was discontented.
The point is, that is real life. There are just some people who are incapable of relating, and there are just some people who give up. That’s life. It’s sad, but that’s life. That’s what the logical, literary part of me gets, but also what I wish wasn’t the truth. That in and of itself proves the novels worth, and it (along with some of the humor) is the redeeming feature. Stories are supposed to teach, and the moral to this story is that life isn’t all happy go lucky. It’s as simple as that, but it’s a concept with which many of us struggle. Andrews states it so plainly that we cant ignore it, forcing us to acknowledge it, if not accept it.
So, I was both content and discontent with the moral of the story, and also with the book. It gets about a 3.8/5.0 rating for me, which I think is about what I saw on Goodreads, and though Greg kept urging for low expectations (there’s some of that humor), I kept hoping for more.
Supposedly this book became a movie, but I haven’t seen it yet. Not sure if I’m going to. Here’s the link to the trailer. I haven’t even watched it yet, either.
Let me know if you think I should see the movie or if you have a different opinion of the book in the comments below. Thanks.