Book review: "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" by Jesse Andrews (audiobook)

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl  

I purchased "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" as a paperback some time ago and never read it. Then, as I was waiting for another audiobook to become available, I picked this one up.

And, oh boy.



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.




Short version - I did not like it. At all.


I think I managed to pull through "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" only because it was an audiobook (narrated by Thomas Mann and R.J. Cyler) and it was not a rather short one. It served as a more pleasurable - most of the time - background to the noise at my work, but I must admit that if I had picked it up in a physical form, I would have DNF’ed it almost immediately.


Rarely, I ever get so angry at the book. I have read my fair share of poorly constructed prose and characters lacking development, but seldom I get to read a book which was completely pointless. (Oh, wait. I know one other. But I won’t be pointing fingers.)


As I listened to "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" and got more and more frustrated with it, I went to GoodReads to read reviews of other people and was surprised to see some of the bloggers that I follow praise this book for its humour! Excuse me, but what humour?


"Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" has the most ridiculous dialogues full of swear words and ranting that most of the time has nothing to do with the plot. The jokes are supposed to self-deprecating, as the book is told from Greg’s perspective, and he states at the very beginning that he is very socially awkward. However, those jokes fall short by much and make Greg seem like a shallow person, incapable of even empathy towards a dying girl.


Greg is not funny or likeable at all. I found him quite pathetic. Can’t say I liked Earl more, but at least Earl did exhibit real emotions towards Rachel, while Greg was faking his way through it. Rachel, although she is part of the plot and even is mentioned in the title, barely gets any dialogue at all. If you think this book is anything like “The Fault in Our Stars” (which I did not like for the plot but could appreciate for the writing style and execution) - think the exact opposite. There is no real emotion in "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl", and I hated all of the characters.


I don’t understand the point of "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" story. The narrative was either Greg ranting in a stream of consciousness or repeating word to word the dialogues in the form similar to a script. Everything that was happening felt pointless. I can’t believe this book was published - no, even written! - as it gives readers nothing.


The narration of "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" was okay. It was the only thing that pulled me through the book. So, if I had to be precise - 1 star goes to the plot, and 1 star to the narrators, which makes it 2 stars overall.


If you want to read a contemporary YA novel, there are plenty of better (and even mediocre) novels that you can read. Do not waste your time on "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl", unless you want to see for yourself how bad it is. I can’t wait to unhaul this book from my shelves.


Rating: 2 stars


More of my book reviews



Book review: 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher (audiobook)


I had never heard of this book before it started to consistently pop up in my YouTube feed. For some reason I thought that it was a new release, and then was confused when I realized that it has been on sale at BookOutlet for awhile. Everyone seemed to rave about it, which, as always, makes me apprehensive. And then this title appeared on my Netflix feed. I was getting annoyed.


And then I saw that Emma from emmmabooks did a review of the tv show, and I was like, okay, if Emma has read it, then I should read it too as I trust her opinions when it comes to sensitive topics.


But a warning first: this book deals with abuse, rape and suicide. If you are triggered by either of those, do not read it and skip the tv show. I am serious.


I did not want to read the physical book because I find it hard to concentrate on contemporary YA, and I also thought that this book will work well in an audio format seeing as the major part of the narration is done via audio tapes. I got the audiobook on OverDrive and, to my biggest surprise, flew through it.


I wouldn’t call this my favourite story. It is a horrible and a very realistic story of abuse at school, rape, and other circumstances that resulted in a suicide. The book is told from the first point of view of Clay Jensen, the boy in high school, whose first love, Hannah Baker, took her life. One morning, two weeks later, he receives a package with audio tapes, recorded by late Hannah, in which she talks about thirteen people that had affected her life. Clay is compelled to listen to them, not only because of the threat of the second copy being made public if he doesn’t listen and then pass on the tapes, but also because he wants to know what part he himself played in Hannah’s death.


This book is perfect as an audiobook. Hannah’s narration gets more raw and candid as the story progresses. I enjoyed both narrators and I think they did a great job with both characters. The story has a bit of mysterious, almost suspenseful, air at the beginning, which made me think that there might be more to the story than it seems. Unfortunately, even though the story does have some unpredictable moments, it was not the case. I managed to guess some of the twists right off the bat, as they were rather obvious. The way the story was narrated, however, was very compelling, and I couldn’t stop listening to it.


Funny thing about this book - I kept forgetting that Hannah was dead. I kept thinking that this is going to be the moment when she would be okay. And after I watched Emma’s video review of the book and TV show, I found out that she had the same feeling while watching it. But no - Hannah Baker is dead, but she is so alive in this audiobook, that it is easy to forget this fact. I liked both Hannah and Clay. I felt really horrified by everything that Hannah went through, and I think that the author did a great job describing abuse and depression, and how all of those small things just add up. I was appalled by the fact that nobody could see what she was going through, including adults (which is a very real and common thing, unfortunately). It is a very believable, realistic and terrifying story.

I felt that the ending of the book was a bit weak, seeing as the book had a great build up, but I was let down a bit as the ending didn’t feel as cathartic as I expected. Also, I felt that the reasons behind some of the people’s actions were never properly explained. People can be cruel for no reason at all, but I felt that it made some of the characters a bit cliched.


I didn’t have any intention to watch the tv show, but after Emma’s review, I am starting to think that I might actually like it better than the book. I did enjoy the book but I felt it lacking for the reasons mentioned above. To my surprise, it seems like the tv show addressed those weaknesses and made the story more dimensional and elaborated. As a matter of fact, if you watch Emma’s review (and she gives away everything including the ending of the show, so beware of major spoilers!!), it feels as if the tv show might even be extended, which gives the story a different perspective (if it does get the second season, I might be even more compelled to watch it, because I want to see how everyone is dealing with the aftermath, as we are not shown that in the book). Honestly, her review makes me want to watch the show as I want to know more about those characters, although I don’t like the idea of watching Hannah suffer all over again.


“13 Reasons Why” is not a light read, nor it is the best book I have read this year. It is, however, an important read - a reminder to everyone to be kind to each other and that there might be people around us who are suffering in silence.


Plot: 3 stars

Narration: 4 stars

Overall rating: 3.5 stars


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13 Reasons Why