Narrator: RJ Cyler, Thomas Mann
Published by Listening Library on May 12th 2015
Genres: Boys & Men, Death & Dying, General, Social Issues, Young Adult
Length: 6 hrs. 9 mins.
The book that inspired the hit film!
Up until senior year, Greg has maintained total social invisibility. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time - when not playing video games and avoiding Earl's terrifying brothers - making movies, their own versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics. Greg would be the first one to tell you his movies are f*@$ing terrible, but he and Earl don't make them for other people. Until Rachel.
Rachel has leukemia, and Greg's mom gets the genius idea that Greg should befriend her. Against his better judgment, and despite his extreme awkwardness, he does. When Rachel decides to stop treatment, Greg and Earl must abandon invisibility and make a stand. It's a hilarious, outrageous, and truthful look at death and high school by a prodigiously talented debut author.
This audiobook is read by the stars of the movie adaptation, Thomas Mann and RJ Cyler, as well as Keith Szarabajka, Hillary Huber, Kirby Heyborne, Abigail Revasch, and Adenrele Ojo.
Jesse Andrews’ Me and Earl and the Dying Girl first came out in 2012. I didn’t read it then, but it made many best-of lists that year. It probably got a little overshadowed by another cancer book you may have heard about. (This is not like that book) Anyway- now it is going to be a movie and from all accounts it sounds like this will be one of the better YA adaptations. I saw that this book is new to audiobook format and I had to check it out before the movie hits screens in three weeks.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is the story of Greg, a high school senior who is writing a book about his life, however worthless he says it is. Greg is obsessed with movies and makes his own films with his friend Earl. Greg will freely tell you that their films are crap and he doesn’t want anyone to see them ever. Greg’s mom asks him to befriend Rachel, a school acquaintance who has leukemia, aka the dying girl. Greg and his cohort Earl visit with Rachel and eventually trust her to see their films, and eventually get coaxed into making a film about her.
Greg is snarky and self-deprecating to the extreme. He basically wants to leave high school unnoticed and has no ambition. Though his manner is jarring at first, I really appreciated the honest portrayal of high school life. A lot of kids don’t know what they are going to do after high school and want to exist under the radar but that’s not something we see much in YA. Greg’s style is one you will either love or hate but I dug it. We don’t understand at first why Greg is writing this book at first and he says:
If after reading this book you come to my home and brutally murder me, I truly do not blame you.
Rachel’s cancer is in the background of the story though I wouldn’t necessarily call this a cancer book. It is more about Greg’s journey – from reluctant visitor to someone who really values Rachel’s friendship.
This book is funny and quirky and has gross humor, foodie references, and film nods galore. Jesse Andrews uses different style techniques like lists, texts, screenplays, and movie reviews that enhance the storytelling.
I listened to the audiobook, and I feel really dumb but I didn’t realize until I was writing this review that the movie actors who play Greg and Earl (Thomas Mann and RJ Cyler) are the narrators of this book. It struck me when I watched the movie trailer that the actors sounded just like they did in the audiobook! Thomas Mann and RJ Cyler are fantastic in this audiobook. Obviously, being the movie’s stars they know their characters inside and out and that translates to the listening experience. Rounding out the full cast audio Keith Szarabajka, Hillary Huber, Kirby Heyborne, Abigail Revasch, and Adenrele Ojo. Thomas Mann is the main narrator as Greg, and he captures Greg’s snide tone perfectly. RJ Cyler is awesome as Earl and delivers a compelling, complex performance. Having a full cast is a nice touch for bringing the screenplay scenes to life. It’s a really fun and entertaining listen. Check out a sample:
I seriously can’t wait for June 12 to see this movie! Here is the trailer: