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.
To be honest, I don't know how to feel about this book. I think that I am as indifferent to this book as Greg, the protagonist, was about writing it. Which to be fair, he is upfront about from the beginning about.
On the plus side, I found this book hilarious and on more than one occasion I found myself laughing out loud. Fantastic lines such as: "It was about the least fun social situation imaginable. If terrorists had burst into the room and tried to suffocate us in hummus, it would have been an improvement. This idea got me thinking about hummus. What is hummus, exactly? It’s basically a paste. Who eats paste? Especially a paste that resembles cat barf? You can’t deny the resemblance here. At least, when Cat Stevens barfs, it looks like hummus," appeared out of nowhere, adding unexpected humor at every turn. This is also not a "typical cancer book." In fact, Rachel, the girl with cancer, takes a secondary role and there is no typical romance story. Those hoping that this story will follow the likes of The Fault in Our Stars and Bright Side will be sorely disappointed. This book is NOTHING like what you would expect from the cancer genre.
However, because this book does not follow the norms that one would expect from this genre, I was left feeling like I missed the point. For one thing, Greg is a protagonist that doesn't change. Normally, you would expect the main character to start one way at the beginning of the book, and somehow different by the end. Not the case with Greg. He remains static throughout the entire thing. Because of this, I found him to be a far less interesting character than Earl and Rachel. He is exactly the same at the end of the story as he is at the beginning.
The only real emotion he shows is when Rachel is dying in the hospital, but it seems to be fleeting and has no real impact on him as a person. Time after time, he proves how self-centered he is by having no compassion for others and instead focusing on how the situation effects him. In the end, he attacks his only "friend" (he prefers to call Earl a "co-worker) over something that he had no control of and finds himself alone, which is what he wants. He gives up film, because he stubbornly refuses to pursue it and fulfill his promise to Rachel, but ends up flunking out of community college, only to begrudgingly take film up again a year later.
Because of the lack of character grow in the protagonist, I was unable to find a point to the story. Is the point that some people don't change no matter the circumstances? Is this light-hearted comedy mascaraing as a dark one? Is that what is lurking under the humor? If so, that is a sad and cynical (but true) way to view the world. I hope this is not the case and that there is just something I'm missing, but that may be my own faith in humanity talking...
Even after writing this review, I still can't form an opinion of this book. I cannot emphatically say "read this book," nor can I say "this book is a waste of time." I remain very much like the protagonist...completely indifferent.