By Nicola Yoon
Age: Young Adult
Publisher: Random House Children’s Publishers UK
This is the story of the thrill and heartbreak that ensues when we break out of our shell to do crazy, sometimes death-defying things for love. Madeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. So allergic, in fact, that she has never left the house in all of her seventeen years. But when Olly moves in next door, and wants to talk to Maddy, tiny holes start to appear in the protective bubble her mother has built around her…
The cult favourite contemporary YA romance is the debut novel from Nicola Yoon and follows Maddy — an eighteen-year-old girl who is too sick to leave the house — and Olly, the boy who just moved in next door.
Now, I have to admit that I found the novel underwhelming and this wasn’t because of the hype. In fact, when I first heard about the novel, I shoved it into the back of my mind until I found myself returning to the cover time and time again on trips to Waterstones. Still unsure, I put it on my Christmas list (yes, I still have one — it’s tradition!) so I wasn’t really bothered if I got it or not. And even when I did get it for Christmas, I still hadn’t picked it up until now (June).
N.B: I haven’t seen the movie either, so no point I make here is because of how the book was adapted on-screen.
So, why did I think Everything, Everything was so…meh? The answer’s simple. I read it too quickly. That might seem like the opposite of what you’d think…surely if I read it quickly I enjoyed it, right? Well…yes and no. I enjoyed it, yes, but not enough. It was a very easy read and I like having to think about what I’m reading just a tiny bit. To this end, I didn’t see the relatively obvious ending coming. So, on the one hand, the ending gripped me and I was incredibly tense throughout, but it ultimately left me unmoved.
Short-end of review: a recommendation of this book is undecided. Appreciate the novel for its careful romance, not for the issues it presents but doesn’t necessarily tackle.
SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU DON’T WANT TO HAVE THIS BOOK SPOILED FOR YOU. I CAN’T COMPLETELY GIVE MY VIEW ON THIS BOOK WITHOUT DOING SO.
PLEASE READ THE BOOK AND COME BACK IF THAT’S WHAT YOU’D PREFER. SORRY LOVELIES!
Once I finished the book, I didn’t feel any particular way about it, but I couldn’t figure out why. The romance was tender and subtly beautiful (minus the big trip to Hawaii) and should have connected with me much more than it did.
And then I read other people’s reviews…
Some people were very angry. They were angry about the portrayal of Maddy’s illness/disability and how the novel seemed to argue that a life with disability isn’t worth living. THIS IS NOT WHAT I THINK.
I think quite the opposite, actually. I think Yoon argues that no matter the problems we may have in life, we can conquer them with a little courage. Having said that, I do think that there is an element of the ‘cure’ problem seen as is the case in literature when disabled characters somehow no longer have their (in some way inhibiting) ailments. So, I think the problem for me was that I would have loved it if the problem was in fact Maddy’s and not her mother’s mental illness.
I would love to have seen more of Maddy’s strength-of-will living with her condition and how she would continue to cope as she grew into a young woman, rather than her suddenly