Author: Jesse Andrews
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary
Publication: Abrams Books
Release Date: March 1st, 2012
Spoilers: Yup, I’m sorry!
Rating: (3.5 / 5)
This book has been given to me as a birthday present, by friends who know exactly what I like. I expected this book to be something that definitely fits on my shelf, and it was. I started reading expecting it to be quite sad but it was everything but that. Maybve it was a little, but “sad” is definitely not a word I would use to describe this book.
“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.” [Goodreads]
The book starts off with Greg telling you what to expect. He writes that it is not a sad story, that nothing of it was beautiful and that he has no idea how to write a book, but he does it anyways.
[NOTE: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. ONLY CONTINUE READING IF YOU’VE READ THE BOOK OR IF YOU DON’T MIND FINDING OUT WHAT HAPPENS AT THE END OF THE BOOK]
The first thing I noticed is how the author/main character in this book is 100% truthful. He doesn’t lie, doesn’t make anything sound better than it is. Instead he tells you exactly how it is. He prepares the reader for a lot of awkwardness and a lot of weird jokes, and that is exactly what makes this book so good.
Greg has started his senior year in high school. He has devoted his high school life to not belonging to any group. He sees this as the best thing you can do in high school, but it has it’s downsides. He doesn’t have friends. There is Earl, who he sees as his coworker. Earl and Greg make movies together that could be seen as parodies and they have never shown anyone these movies because they suck.
The first half of the book is great. It’s hilarious and awkward and so easy to read through, it made me laugh out loud so many times. The reason Earl, Greg and Rachel (the dying girl) start hanging out after years of not even saying hi to eachother, is because Greg’s mum made him call her after she told him she has cancer. From that point on, Rachel declining to hang out, Greg explaining that she needs a dose of “Gregacil” and the awkward hang-out sessions that include pillow-masturbation and smug looks from Hugh Jackman, it was all laughs. Rachel starts watching the films that Greg and Earl have made so far and she loves them. The first half of this book is recommended if you feel sad, because it will definitely make anyone laugh.
Then, Rachel starts treatment. The book takes a somewhat depressing turn and the entire mood switches. The writing style doesn’t change, it looks as awkward as ever and every awkward thing that could happen still happens but it suddenly feels like a different book. Things aren’t fun anymore and it was what Greg prepared the reader for in the beginning of the book, but it happens suddenly. One of Rachel’s friends tells Greg about how much Rachel loves the films he had made and that it would be a good idea to make one for Rachel.
People start to notice that he is making a movie and suddenly he is not invisible in high school anymore, that’s when I sort of felt sorry for Greg. He had put a lot of work in not being in the spotlights and suddenly he was all over the place because he had been pushed into making a movie and word spreads fast in high school.
Greg’s entire life changes because of this. His school work suffers and he is not a nobody anymore. He is doing something he has been told to do and that makes his movie so bad. He is not at all proud of it, but that doesn’t matter because the others want him to do this. This book shows how something happening to another can change everything in your life, even if it is not directly happening to you. Greg doesn’t exactly know how to deal with things, so that’s what makes it so real. There is no lie in this book and the fact that all these weird, awkward things happen is what makes it so good. The first half of this book is fun and recommended to everyone but if you would like for everything to have a happy ending and to turn out fine, don’t read the second half.
Ps: I have seen the movie right after I finished reading the book! It’s an okay movie compared to the book. It has kept the awkward/realness that makes the book so good, but the ending has been changed quite a bit which was kind of a letdown.
Excited for the book and the movie? You can get them down below!