Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews



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.

I’d like to begin by explaining that I watched the movie before I read the book. I know, I know, but I’d put off this book for so long that it was becoming a dwarf planet, which basically means not important and forgotten. So, I took the plunge, watched the movie and fell in LOVE

However the book wasn’t as solid as the movie, in my honest opinion. I know it’s rare for the movie to surpass the book, but when you read it you’ll probably understand why. But, I’m not going to spend this entire review commenting on the movie, in fact, this will be the last time I mention the movie. Since, It’d be rather repetitive for me to basically retell what the summary already does, so I’ll just get directly to the meat – this will be extremely short.

The Good:

  • Our protagonist is male – this is unusual in YA cancer books (at least to my knowledge)
  • Greg – His character began hilarious. He was sarcastic and extremely pessimistic in a way that’s appealing to a reader.
  • I enjoyed the format. It was written similar to a diary, just different.
  • It’s not a romance.
  • It’s very real.
  • The hobby of remaking movies was very fun.

The Bad:

  •  Rachel’s character wasn’t alive. Very one-dimensional, which I wasn’t expecting after the movie (Damn you! I said don’t mention that). This could stem from the *POV or just the lack of importance the writer felt toward her character. She’s dying. I just expected more.
  • Greg developed into an asshole. Let me rephrase; he became an unlikable asshole. Early on his character wasn’t particularly…pleasant, but he was real which allowed his antics and attitude to be acceptable, but later on he just became selfish and self-absorbed and shallow as hell. To be honest this might’ve been his original traits but I chose to overlook it because I liked the movie (I swear this is the last time). Not to mention after a while, Greg telling the reader they’re an idiot to keep reading his book was just…in bad taste.
  • Earl was a character I enjoyed when first introduced, however, he went downhill from there. I’m gonna admit that giving Greg a black friend was awesome to read and the diversity of a MAIN character being a *POC was refreshing – particularly in YA – but also damned hard to accomplish without some issues if you’re not a *POC. As the book progressed Earl and his family took on a cartoonish feel, to be specific they took on:

Don’t get me wrong, The Boondocks is a great show, but it has no business in this book.

The Ugly:

There was sooooo much vulgar language! Swear words in general don’t offend me, neither do other words, but there was one point where my mind just blanked after seeing pussy and fuck several hundred times. This is supposed to be a YA novel, however it’s really not for Young Adults. I go by movie standards, a movie with this amount of cursing would’ve been R-rated.'s_a_mess.gif

*POC = Person of Color

*POV = Point of View



14 thoughts on “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

  1. jessreadingnook says:

    Great review! I’m not sure if I’ll get around to picking this one up. The plot never intrigued me, and I have a huge aversion to the “p” word. I don’t mind curse words in books, even YA, because I think it’s reflective of the world around us. Besides, a lot of classics that are taught in school have curse words. And then I think of the letter Kurt Vonnegut wrote to the school board in North Dakota that burned Slaughterhouse Five in the school furnace because of offensive language (who does that?!)…so silly. If you haven’t read it, it’s a pretty good letter (the book is good, too). But anyway, I get the “p” word for sure.That’s something that would make me stop reading a book, especially if it were used a lot. That and the “c” word. I wish people wouldn’t even say that word. And if the language is vulgar, there should be a reason and it should feel authentic.

    • Codie says:

      Thanks so much! I recommend watching the movie – I loved it. I agree! It has to be authentic or else I just feel like I’m reading too much. Cursing doesn’t offended me, hell, I use it often (I had to throw that in there) but the amount of cursing had me cringing because some of it didn’t even make sense. I was actually supposed to read Slaughterhouse Five before A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, but it’s been taking forever for me to get into Slaughterhouse Five; although, to be honest, A Princess of Mars isn’t good…at all. Oooh I’d love to read that letter! offensive language 20-30 years ago doesn’t even compare to this book, yet along other works of literature. I agree with you about the “c” word it’s in bad taste and just icky.

  2. Zezee says:

    I gotta disagree with you on vulgar part. I think it fits from all the curse words to the nasty jokes. When I think back to high school, or even hear some of the kids these day, the language is similar.
    I agree with you on Greg. I don’t think we’re meant to like him but I liked Earl. And now that you mention it, I agree that it got a little cartoonish.

    • Codie says:

      I guess that’s realistic for the majority of High School students, but I guess since I wasn’t like that it’s just hard to imagine. Haha, some of the stuff Earl said was soooo off the wall but funny, other times I just couldn’t fathom the conversations.

      I got that feeling too about Greg. He’s supposed to be the average teenager not above the bullshit, and I get that but he was so unlikable after awhile that even though I understood it I couldn’t like it. He’s kind of like Emma. Haha, I’m glad the cartoonish thing wasn’t just in my mind.

      Have you ever seen the movie?

  3. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Oh I hear you about the swearing- I really don’t have a problem with swearing at all, but I find when books are just full of them I’m put off. When I was at Uni I went to see Irving Welsh- I’d heard of trainspotting but never read it- the second he started reading it I was put off, cos every other word is “ye effing c”- it was too much, even for me!

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