Greg has worked out how to be a part of all the social groups at school and he’s happy with his sort-of friend Earl who he makes movies with. That all changes when Greg’s mum forces Greg to be friends with Rachel who has recently been diagnosed with leukemia.
Greg is the narrator of the novel and the main character. He writes the book like he’s talking to you and he’s nearly always saying how terrible it is and questioning why the reader is still reading it. It’s an interesting narrative choice and suits Greg as a character well but that doesn’t make Greg any less annoying. Greg’s incredibly self-centred and the way he’s working the social hierarchy at school is in some ways admirable but in others unbelievable and frustration because he’s constantly worrying about what others will think of him if he appears to be in one social group more than another.
The other characters are almost caricatures of the usual YA cast list – the annoying mother, the interfering classmate, the hippy teacher and absent parents. Rachel is almost a non-entity and while Earl is more interesting than Greg, his family is dysfunctional but intriguing and I’d like to know more about him and his home life, you still don’t really know much about him at all.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is interesting in its narrative style and the way it doesn’t conform to the usual tropes like the main character and the dying girl fall in love and they then learn from each other. It was also sometimes funny though most of the time it was just very awkward.
It’s a very quick read but the main character is so frustrating and unlikable that I ended up not liking the book. I suppose you don’t always learn things about yourself and life in general when things happen (and the book is good for that) but at the same time, the fact that nothing really happens in the story and the characters don’t grow was frustrating. 2/5.
The main reason I picked up Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is because there’s a film adaptation coming out – from the trailer it looks like I’d find Greg less frustrating and unlikable than in the book.