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.
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It’s taken me over two weeks to sit down and write this review. I’m still really unsure about what I want to write; this book was so confusing for me. Not as in the way it was written, as in I have no idea how I felt about it once I put it down.
We’re introduced to our protagonist, Greg, as someone who doesn’t want to be writing this book. Not a great start, right? I like reading about people who are excited, but no, Greg would rather be anywhere than talking to us. This gives the whole book a really strange tone, because he seems bored the entire time, but at the same time obviously feels strongly about what he’s talking about. He cares about Rachel, our dying girl, but at the same time shows no emotion about the fact that she’s dying, and never talks about making an actual connection with her. But she’s like his only real friend? So I don’t understand?? The whole book has this weird vibe to it, where you’re never quite sure how Greg feels about something, or how much emotion he’s hiding, or if he actually just doesn’t care. It makes it hard to love a book when you have a protagonist like this one.
Then there’s Rachel herself, who is confusing all on her own. As the title says, she’s dying, but that seems almost insignificant to the plot. Not in a way like there’s more going on, and there are other morals. In a way that Rachel is there, with her cancer, and that’s about it. She has CANCER. How is that not something you should be sad about? I read The Fault In Our Stars, and I wept like a little kid. That’s what I’d expect from a book about cancer, even if they make a full recovery (does Rachel? OoOo, I may never tell you…). Cancer is sad. Dying is sad, and death is sad. Even if you feel like you haven’t made a connection with someone, it’s still sad. Not in this book, though. I didn’t shed a single tear, and I don’t think I came close even once. In this book, I wanted to feel sadness. I prepared myself for pain! But Rachel is so insignificant to Greg’s life, it’s bizarre.
Victoria, you say, you’ve only said negative things. So you didn’t like the book, right? Well, that’s where you’re wrong. For some reason, I couldn’t put this book down. For some weird, inexplicable reason, I really loved what I was reading. I liked Greg’s brutal honesty, I liked that Rachel was just a regular girl, and I liked the relationship between them, a friendship forced by terrible circumstances. I liked that Greg wrote in lists, or in script, or with subheadings, and that he got bored of writing one particular way for too long. I liked that there was a tiny cast, instead of too many people getting it all mixed up. I liked that Rachel wasn’t Dying, she was Rachel. And while I read it, this was all I could think of. I could have listed a hundred things that made me love this book. It was the second that I closed the back cover that I realised it really wasn’t that good.
I want to recommend the book to you, I really do. I just don’t know if I can. I don’t know if I can justify putting you through this very average book, for some extraordinary things. Do you see my confusion now? Do you see why it’s taken me so long to write this review? Because here I am, with it written, and I still have no idea how I feel