I’m going to be honest here. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a book that I have been eyeballing for a really long time. I’ve picked it up over and over at the bookstore, feeling the draw to buy it, only to put it down at the last minute. I couldn’t get past the idea that it was going to be a book I would hold to a higher standard after reading The Fault in Our Stars. It is no secret that I adore John Green. I adore TFioS. Was it really fair to read another book that I anticipated would be similar, and therefore less-than in my mind?
No worries because, besides a girl with cancer, there is virtually nothing similar between these two books at all. There is absolutely no comparison. FioS is all about hope and living a full life in your numbered days. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was about… nothing in particular, actually. It contained Greg, Earl and Rachel. It contained 0 deep thoughts, and about 1000 shallow ones. Yet that is exactly what makes it so great! It was real teenagers trying to get through a tough time in their lives, containing imaginably real dialogue.
“So in order to understand everything that happened, you have to start from the premise that high school sucks. Do you accept that premise? Of course you do. It is a universally acknowledged truth that high school sucks. In fact, high school is where we are first introduced to the basic existential question of life: How is it possible to exist in a place that sucks so bad?”
The very best part of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was how ridiculously hilarious it was. I’ve read quite a few books that I thought were funny. Let me tell you, I have never read a book that was as hilarious as this one. How many of you have read a book that made you cry so hard that you couldn’t see the words, and you had to put the book down? Probably most of you, I’d assume. Okay then, how many of you have read a book that made you LAUGH so hard that you couldn’t see the words, and you had to put the book down? I’m guessing significantly less.
Well, I laughed. I laughed so hard I had tears pouring down my face. I can’t even post the funniest quotes, because they’re not as funny out of context. You have to read the book and visualize the characters to really get it. I laughed so hard that I got funny looks from people. I laughed so hard that I looked like I was a crazy person. Almost all of the skulls devoted to this book are based off the laughter alone.
“So the rich kids aren’t the alpha group of the school. The next most likely demographic would be the church kids: They’re plentiful, and they are definitely interested in school domination. However, that strength — the will to dominate — is also their greatness weakness, because they spend so much time trying to convince you to hang out with them, and the way they try to do that is by inviting you over to their church. ‘We’ve got cookies and board games,’ they say, or that sort of thing. ‘We just got a Wii set up!’ Something about it always seems a little off. Eventually, you realize: These same exact sentences are also said by child predators.”
So, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl stands on it’s own merit, clearly. It carved out its own niche in YA contemporary lit. There were just a few things that made me bring down what I thought was going to be a 5 star read. First, the Authors Note -let me interject really quick that the author’s note is NOT about Jesse Andrews, it is part of the story. It’s an authors note from Greg, who was the fictional author of the story, (I didn’t figure this out after reading the book… shame on me!)- anyway, the Authors Note clearly says that this is not a ‘deep’ book. You are forewarned that there will be no big deep emotional moment, or attempts to decipher the universe. And yet, silly me, I was hoping for a little something at the end. Perhaps not ridiculously profound, but just a small amount of enlightenment. Don’t be like me folks, listen to Greg. There isn’t.
Also, all those jokes that I loved so much do perhaps overload you when you’re in the last quarter of the book. It may be because I was hoping for a little something serious and I didn’t get it, but I just started wanting to say, “enough Greg”.
Still, overall, a really funny story, written in a real voice, about the real world. This was definitely #VeryRealisticYA.
See this review, and others, at Badass Book Reviews!