Tag Archive | indie

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

IMG_4199I committed the unforgivable book sin of watching the movie before reading the book.

Who can blame me though – I got free tickets! (Thank you, Fox Searchlight!)

The movie was playing at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema in Atlanta. It is the cutest little arthouse, complete with flowering trees and twinkling Christmas lights. I went with my mom, and we were completely prepared to cry.

We were not prepared to laugh our heads off. It was so funny I wanted to punch myself in the face.

(Not really, of course. Greg just says that a lot in the book and I find it humorous. I mean, just picture it.)

I know that laughing during a movie about a girl who is dying from cancer sounds morbid; I’ve gotten several strange looks while referring it to people for its comedic value. But I’m not kidding. It was mostly funny because of Greg and Earl, but comedians such as Nick Offerman (Greg’s dad) and Molly Shannon (Rachel’s mom, Denise) lit up the screen as well. Nick Offerman walking around in a robe holding Cat Stevens – don’t get me started.

It was the kind of movie that makes you cry with laughter and with sadness. But I didn’t really mind looking like a mess in a movie theater – it was that good.

It was so good, in fact, that I read the book solely to compare the two story formats.

First, there’s “me” – Greg, the novel’s brutally honest and extremely apathetic narrator. He’s flawed: he doesn’t care about the future, is lazy, and has a very low self-esteem. (In the book, this is sometimes exaggerated to an obnoxious extent. I was less annoyed with him in the movie.)

This isn’t to say that I hated Greg, or that he’s a bad character. He’s actually a really good character, one who is startlingly real. He makes bad jokes and has girl problems. His family is a bit odd, and school stresses him out. He felt like one of my brothers.

Greg’s tone throughout the novel is the kicker. It’s laced with humor, completely off-the-wall (but weirdly accurate) analogies, and his unfiltered thoughts about people and situations that he observes.

Then there’s Earl.

Earl is probably my favorite character. He’s so funny – crude, but funny. It takes a while to realize this, but Earl is much more mature and thoughtful than Greg. He calls Greg out on his crap, makes him take responsibility, makes him think. I felt like I knew Earl too, like he was someone I go to school with.

And we can’t forget about the dying girl.

I mean, even though the book seems to.

Seriously. I could easily count the number of chapters that Rachel is actually in. There are very few of them. Reading the book, I didn’t know her at all. It’s told from Greg’s memories and mind, and he’s so caught up with himself and conversations and making the film that, as a reader, I don’t even feel like Rachel was a real person. She was a shadow character.
me-and-earl-and-the-dying-girlThis is where the movie shone. The movie brought Rachel to life. It brought us out of Greg’s head and into his school, into Rachel’s house, into Mr. McCarthy’s office. (Why does the history teacher have an office? Whatever – respect the research.) The movie added humor (the scene in class where Greg discovers how he got high – not in the book) and took away useless factors (like Greg’s sisters, and the fact that he used to date Rachel). The movie was also nice because it showed bits and pieces of the films that they made. Because let’s be honest – it’s weird to read about someone doing stop motion.

Finally, the film added a level of depth and emotion that the book lacked. Like I said, everything in the book is told directly from Greg’s perspective, while in the movie you can see him struggle with things and see people interact with him. It’s less biased, in a way. You grow to love Rachel, and cry when it’s time for prom (also not in the book). The Greg in the book never would have done what Movie Greg did in this scene. Movie Greg does learn from Rachel’s situation, while Book Greg just seems to sort of move on.

(If that was vague, my apologies. Spoilers and whatnot.)

Long story short, the movie was perfect, and the book was pretty good. Weird as this sounds, I might like the book more because I saw the movie first, and because it was so good. I definitely would (and have) recommend(ed) this book and movie to others.

Who knew that a book/movie about a girl with cancer could be so funny?

Book: 4/5 stars

Movie: 9/10 stars (IMDb scale)

Emerge: The Awakening by Melissa Craven

EmergeWhat it’s about:

When Allie Carmichael is forced to leave her Australian life in the beginning of the book, she reacts as any teen would. The only difference is that moving isn’t new to her; she’s done it numerous times. But with the familiar struggle of making new friends and navigating a new place, the last thing Allie expects is to get new powers as well.

These powers that not only set her farther apart from others, but also explain why she has always been such an outsider. But she isn’t as alone as she thought; Allie makes many new friends – and allies – that help her as her life changes in ways that she struggles to fathom.

The powers and knowledge that she gains do not come without a price, however. Allie tries to have a normal life, tries not to love the guy who becomes the one constant thing in her life, tries to get stronger through her daily training sessions, and tries not to be killed. Allie soon discovers that these things are going to be difficult and that, when she and her friends are eventually put to the test, it is only the beginning of her long and mysterious destiny.

What I thought:

I received an ARC of Emerge, and it was well worth the read. It brought several words to mind: unusual, intriguing, funny, and promising.

Unusual, because I personally have never read a book like this before. I liked it, but was very surprised. I enjoyed that I learned about Allie (the main character) and her new world just as she did.

Intriguing, because I often couldn’t put it down, and read several hundred pages at a time. I thought that it would simply be another dystopian novel with a strong female lead. I was wrong. Craven creates an entire history and race, but places it within a modern setting. This setting makes both the characters and their struggles, which are occasionally unrealistic, more relatable. I did get confused about who was who and what backstory was what. However, most of my questions were eventually answered. After the stories and training sessions, the book got particularly exciting. My OTP grew closer, and I began to care more about what happened to them and the rest of the characters.

Funny, because it made me actually laugh out loud. I grew to like Allie more and more because of her quick and sarcastic sense of humor. Her interactions with the other characters were so clever; she said things that I wish I had thought to say.

Promising, because I know that it is the first book of the series. As a stand alone, there would have been way too much introduction and rising action. However, the conflicts that were introduced, the pressing ones – were solved. It was satisfying, and somewhat surprising. I definitely recommend this book, especially if you like magic, sassy heroines, and prophecies.

4/5 stars