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.
Ever since I read The Fault in Our Stars, I have started to notice that there are quite a lot of books about people suffering from illnesses. Cancer or Leukemia seems to be the most ‘popular’ choice lately, I believe. Honestly, I have been trying to avoid these books as much as I can – because I just don’t like reading about people who have cancer. Fictional or not. But some of these books were starting to get rather popular, and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was one of them. There is a movie coming out very soon (though my country won’t get it until November), and I watched the trailer very recently and thought it sounded interesting. It did still have a bit of a TFIOS feel, but it also felt quite different (because TFIOS was more of a love story, and this book isn’t a love story at all).
As you may have thought, this book is about a guy named Greg (‘Me’), a guy named Earl (obvious) and a dying girl (Rachel). Rachel is diagnosed with Leukemia, which I always thought was the kids’ version of cancer (but apparently it’s to do with blood and though it’s mostly common among children, it’s not necessarily a children’s version of cancer? The things you learn from books, eh?!). Greg and Earl are filmmakers, and that’s basically what this book is about. One day, in his senior year, Greg is ‘forced’ to spend time with Rachel. He drags Earl along with him to visit Rachel one day, and that’s how the three of them start ‘hanging out’, as far as you can hang out with someone who is ill. Yeah.
Like I said, I thought it would be a TFIOS repeat, with Greg and Rachel falling in love and him being hopelessly heartbroken after she’d died (come on it’s not a spoiler, it’s literally in the title) – but it was actually the exact opposite of them, and that is probably why I liked this book so much. This book is not about Rachel, it’s not about her being ill, not about her dying – it’s about Greg and Earl and them making a movie for her (okay technically still a bit about her). And the characters didn’t feel ‘perfect’, like Hazel and Augustus kind of did (apart from them having cancer obviously) (sorry not sorry) – they don’t use weird metaphors or stick unlit cigarettes into their mouths just because they can. Greg and Earl and Rachel are real people and that is probably why I am going to admit that I think I like this book a bit more than TFIOS. (Why didn’t you give it five stars then?) Because the characters in this book are flawed, and I did actually want to slap both Greg and Earl at some points, and yeah the book was a bit messy at some points that I just skipped paragraphs because I had no idea what was written down. So yeah, not a perfect book.
The writing style is a bit strange, to be honest, because the author wrote it so it looks like Greg actually wrote the book. Of course, when a book is in first person narrative, I always think the story was written down by the main character – but in this book it’s actually mentioned several times that Greg is actually writing it. And he’s not very good at it, his writing is messy – the dialogues are sometimes a bit strange, sometimes two characters are talking through each other and you miss half of a sentence, some parts of the dialogue are written like it’s a script of a movie (which makes sense), and he sometimes uses bullet points to sum up things that happened at that time. I really liked the way it was written, so much I actually got through it as fast as Quicksilver runs (“You didn’t see that coming?”). (I did see that ending coming, of course, because it’s in the title already).
And really, the design of this book is just marvelous. Just look at the cover! Look how awesome that is. The chapter titles are really awesome as well and I just loved looking at them. The chapter titles are hilarious and yeah wow, just all the points to the people who designed this book!! (Also just, I love books that mention the fonts they used, because sometimes I just see a font that looks AMAZING but I have no idea what it’s called, and I just cry every time I see a book mentioning this at the beginning or end of it, wow yes!)
Honestly, I find it difficult to read cancer books (my granddad died of cancer a couple of years ago, and though I have come to terms with it, I still can’t really read books or watch movies about people having cancer. TFIOS was hard to watch, Before I Die was very hard to read – I liked both of them but I also hated them you know what I mean?), but honestly I loved Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Because this book doesn’t feel like a cancer book at all. It feels like a silly book about three friends doing friend things. Rachel’s death wasn’t a bit thing in this book, it was actually just mentioned very briefly near the end – and that was about it. So yeah, I didn’t find this book difficult to read at all (the movie will probably be a different story).
In the end, I really enjoyed Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and I will definitely be checking out the movie as soon as it comes out. Seriously, go and watch the trailer! And read the book! And watch the movie when it comes out!