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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - Jesse Andrews

Well... that was weird.

So have you read The Fault in Our Stars? This is the opposite.

This book is what appears to be basically a parody of The Fault in Our Stars, or at least a YA book of the cancer variety.

As a parody it does the exact opposite of everything including:
- a shallow main character who is self-aware, but only of how stupid everything is including himself
- supporting characters who are not well-developed and appear two dimensional and stereotypical because of the selfish main character's lack of insight into describing them
- a very relaxed tone that tries to be more funny than endearing
- very little plot development
- no meaningful message or depth into human interactions

So I was really between 2 and 3 stars on this. The problem with spoofs and parodies is you kind of set yourself up for a funny, yet not very interesting book. I bumped my rating to 3 stars for style points. Andrews has a very interesting and possibly "creative" style, although as noted in the book, "Just because something is weird and hard to understand doesn't mean it's creative." (281). Andrews uses a style that incorporates usual book text, script format, and various lists and bullets points to tell the story.

Also, the writing style is very realistic to a high-schooler. The writing is casual and often tries to be humorous. It is a very laid back book and Greg is very aware of what is going on inside himself. He is not afraid to tell you what a failure he is. And sometimes he tries so hard to be funny and likable and ends of saying completely weird things that are kind of funny, but not polished enough to feel like they were scripted moments. The humor is weird, yet realistic.

While Greg himself is self-aware, I think the book is a little too self-aware at times, which takes away from its readability. Greg constantly writes about how bad the book is and how he hasn't learned anything, which made it easy-to-understand, but not all that enjoyable to read. I wanted to "see" the events, rather than just read what Greg didn't learn from them. This also makes it very clear that Greg is pretty much a superficial jerk and while he will admit it in written form, it does not make it any less unlikable to read. The ignorance of other people's emotions and the invalidating perception of their thoughts and experiences, mixed with his creepy fixation on appearances (his own and others) and likability, led to an annoying narrator who was very unlikable. This idea is called out in the book, but again specifically stating does not make it anymore interesting.

So while this book succeeds as a parody, it is not a very readable one. The story, while realistic, is not very satisfying. A good fit for readers who do not like traditional YA books.