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Presented by State Library Victoria

My OBSESSION with The Haters by Jesse Andrews (A Discussion)

Hi there. Nice to meet you.
I’m otaku and I’m OBSESSED with The Haters.

That’s how most of my conversations should go anyhow.

*SPOILERY SECTION ON ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. CHECK BELOW FOR UNSPOILERY SECTION PART 2*

Anyone who knew me back when I read ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ for the first time would have heard my rants. I ranted like nobody on this Earth has ever ranted before. Sometimes good, sometimes bad.
Here’s the thing.
‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ (for the rest of this post known as MEDG because otherwise my fingers are gonna die) was such a strange book for me. It was a book about cancer that didn’t take itself too seriously.
Your reaction? Probably that cancer is serious. It IS serious. SO think about this: all the books coming out at that time were romanticising cancer and it was extremely disturbing. SO here are some of my thoughts on how MEDG was different:
– The main character was a guy who really struggled to articulate himself, his feelings or his goals. He was like your Andrew Smith protagonist but FAR less gross (y’all who tried reading 100 Sideways Miles or Grasshopper Jungle?)
– Sooooo protagonist, Greg, is totally avoiding anything too serious which I think we can ALL understand. Who wants to deal with the serious stuff in life amiright? Long story short, Greg reconnects with an old friend who has cancer, and ummmm she dies. And then he continues on with his life completely ignoring everything he learnt that whole time.
– Sooooo originally I thought this was the dumbest thing ever! Literally hated this book with all my heart and soul. All I could think was, this girl (Rachel) taught Greg a lot when she was ill and really got him to think about who he was and what he was gonna do with his life. The whole plot was building this whole time and then…nothing happens.  And it’s like hangonamoment. Why do all this building and development of character and then *poof* it’s all gone.

This whole thing was on my mind for ages and I’m not kidding you when I say I went from hating this book to loving it just because of the discussions I was having with people about it.
And OKAY. You can say whatever you want about that movie (BECAUSE I AM SO ANNOYED AT THE ENDING BECAUSE IN THE BOOK IT WAS NOT DRAMATIC AT ALL. THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT…at least I think???) I lived for the cinematography and the first half was REALLY good. Like REALLY GOOD. But the end was such a disappointment. It wasn’t meant to be sad.
It was meant to bypass the sad and show someone who felt completely disconnected with the world after their friend died.  Yes, FRIEND. NOT ROMANTIC INTEREST.
*END OF SPOILERY SECTION*


Anywayssss ages after reading that book (probably years) and just thinking about it at the randomest of times, I noticed that Jesse Andrew’s new book, ‘The Haters’ came out. I was cu-ri-ous. But I wasn’t exactly first in line to get it, y’know?
Basically months after it’s release I finally picked it up from the library and started reading it (as you do). I saw it as ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ 2.0.
It’s true.
There were 2 main male characters and a female who get together as friends and are crude + snarky. Only this book was written for me. Not actually – don’t get your knickers in a knot!
I say it was 2.0 because the characters felt much more refined. Still rough around the edges as I like them, but more refined. Their jokes were less cutting (but still highly amusing), their references fresh, and their taste in music had really meant something to me.
Typically in YA all the rougher, ‘broody’ characters are into harsh alternative or metal music. They’re so damn hipster it blinds people. But these characters were into jazz. Not into ‘jazz’ as a side interest, but passionate about it. Which meant that either Jesse Andrews was passionate about it himself or just really well-researched. Which I appreciate coming from a music background because music YA books trigger me more than about anything else in the world.
And the skills of the characters as musicians felt super authentic as well. It was extremely realistic and I can’t even begin to explain HOW HAPPY THAT MAKES ME. SO HAPPY.

AND ROAD TRIPS. Everyone loves a good road trip. Road trips are a great way of really getting to know your characters. It really brings out their flaws and all their most annoying qualities. It’s absolutely brilliant! Nothing is more uncomfortable than having to get to know people in an inclosed space. It’s suffocating and that’s why it’s brilliant.

ALSO all the characters are so authentically ridiculous. They’re far from perfect – they’re awkward, say weird and wrong things all the time and that’s perfectly normal. Seriously. The trio are so weird that they’re relatable. They also butt heads all the time too which y’know is totally realistic too because not everyone gets along ALL the time. What did I say about road trips again? Oh yeah, they’re BRILLIANT!

JUST TO ADD ON to the whole jazz thing – it totally fits their personalities. Sure most people love the idea of this on-the-road-band-tour, but only certain characters really fit that mould. The trio’s personalities as I previously mentioned are so uncut and raw – COMPLETELY UNFILTRED – that it fits this whole image most people have of the jazz scene.

GAH, I just LOVE this book.

1 comment

inky Centre for Youth Literature

This made me laugh/cry/nod/fist pump (I especially liked the gifs). Congratulations Otaku, this has earned you a double pass to the event! Email us at insideadog@slv.vic.gov.au and we'll email your tickets to you.

3rd May, 18