I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on September 1, 2015
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Romance
This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon was, well, everything that I’ve heard it was going to be. It was fast, fun, and unique. I read it in less than a day because I was taken in with the story of Olly and Madeline. And it’s beautifully written. Seriously, so beautiful.
So first let’s talk about Madeline. She’s an eighteen-year-old girl who hasn’t left her house in 17 years. Yep, you heard me right. She lives in her house, which is essentially a bubble with filters that completely refresh the air every couple of hours. People who come in–practically no one–had to be decontaminated and were forbidden to touch Madeline. Why, you may ask, are there so many precautions? Madeline has a disease called Sever Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), making her allergic to basically anything and everything. She’s completely shut off from the outside world. She only interacts with her mother (who is also her primary physician) and her nurse Carla. Man, that would suck. But despite her hard life, Madeline is a great character. She’s smart and she reads all the time and she writes reviews on her blog online (I love her reviews a lot). Basically, she’s me if I had SCID.
But anyways, the book is written in first person in Madeline’s perspective. And I just love her. I want to best best friends with her. She’s had a hard life…or not much of a life at all, but she’s still optimistic. She still looks for the beauty in things. She still hopes for the best even though nothing in her life has lead her to believe “the best” is going to happen. And I just love that. And I love her.
Oh, one more thing about her. Diversity has become so important in YA fiction recently. People are pushing for more diverse characters and cultures represented in literature. Madeline is half-Japanese and half-black, which I find so interesting! But what I think I like the best about it is that it wasn’t just something thrown in there to add diversity. It was just who she is. It doesn’t change her. Her race doesn’t overrun her life. And it shouldn’t. It’s just who she is, and that’s wonderful.
Okay, moving on. So Madeline lives in her house and only in her house. One day she sees a new family moving in next door…and they see her, too, staring in the window. So a brother and sister come to the door with a bundt cake, hoping to meet Madeline and have her show them around. Her mother quickly sees them (and the bundt cake) out the door, in fear of contaminating Madeline. But Madeline learns the brother’s name: Oliver. He goes to his window and writes her a message and they start communicating that way: with glances and small, written messages. Until they get each other’s email addresses. And they start talking…and talking…and talking. And the rest is history (or, if you haven’t read it yet, the rest is the future? For a person who hasn’t read the book yet, has the story happened or is it in the future? Whoa. Just blew my mind a little bit).
One thing about this book is that I wish we would have gotten to know Oliver (she calls him Olly) a little better. Madeline is very visual and, since she’s always in her house she sees quite a lot out of her window. So we get a lot of glimpses and small moments of understanding. But I wanted to go deeper. I wanted to get to know him on the same level that I had gotten to know Madeline. What I did see, though…what I did learn about him…I loved. I loved his cute protectiveness of her. His desire to talk to her all the time, to learn everything about her. His willingness to actually work for the relationship and not to give up just because it seemed a little hard.
Also, there is kind of insta-love, but I think it’s totally realistic and understandable in Madeline’s case. Insta-love is kind of a big no-no in many book blogger and reviewer’s eyes…But for Madeline doesn’t it make sense? Wouldn’t it be realistic? She’s literally cut off from everything except her many, many books and movies and the internet. As a result, she’s basically a hopeless romantic (that’s what books do to you, believe me). And she’s had no interaction with people her age. So when an attractive boy moves next door and starts talking to her, it’s realistic that she’s instantly going to like him. That she’s instantly going to be thinking about the “what if’s?” that come with crushes and boys. So, yes, the situation is kind of “She sees him out the window and then can’t stop thinking about him,” but it makes sense to me in this situation. It didn’t seem fake or forced. But just wanted to throw that out there.
The writing in this book was beautifully poetic. Seriously, I was highlighting left and right, backwards and forwards. I wish I could share some quotes with you but I don’t think I’m supposed to since I didn’t read the finished copy. BUT IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL, TRUST ME. And when authors and narrators are almost poetic, I think it’s really easy for it to become forced and unrealistic (I ranted about it on a review here). But it didn’t seem like that here. Nicola Yoon writes beautifully. I need a synonym for beautifully, I’ve used it too much. Delightfully. Charmingly. Gorgeously. Gracefully. Wonderfully. Tastefully. Exquisitely. Thank you, Thesaurus.com. All of these adjectives work, well, beautifully. Eep.
Also this book is so fast. You could read it in less than a day if you wanted to. It’s 320 pages, but the chapters are so so so so short that it just flies by. Also many pages have illustrations or emails or some of her reviews on them. So it literally just goes by so fast. Which is both a blessing and a curse, if you think about it. It’s good because it never drags. You always want to keep going, keep reading their story. But then at the end, you’re just left sitting there, wanting more. Craving more. Needing more. This was my note upon finishing the last page: “WHAT I NEED MORE.” There you have it, straight from my exquisitely well-written note.
But I have mixed feelings about the ending. I can’t really say a lot without including spoilers, but I just wasn’t expecting what happened to happen. Which is kind of a good thing, right? It wasn’t predictable at all. Nope, did not see that one coming. But part of me also doesn’t find it believable. But part of me does. It’s like I’d almost have to overlook some things for it to sit well in my mind…What I learned in my last English class is called “the willing suspension of disbelief.” This is nothing major. Don’t not read this because of this note. Seriously, you still need to read it. But now I’m going to include spoilers. If you read this, it will spoil the entire ending for you, and kind of the entire book, so be warned: View Spoiler »So Madeline is not sick. She’s never been sick. Her dad and brother died in a car accident years ago, when she was still really young. And her mom kind of had a mental breakdown and lost it. And her mom’s a doctor…so she kind of diagnosed Madeline with SCID and over-protected her so she wouldn’t lose Madeline too. Her mom honestly believed Madeline had this disease…but this was just so unexpected. And to have something like this, to always be home-schooled and need constant attention…wouldn’t there be someone who questioned her mom? Like Carla, the nurse. As soon as Madeline said something to her, Carla was like “Yes…I never thought your mom got over your dad and brother. Something’s not right.” Wouldn’t she have thought that before and done something about it? I don’t know. « Hide Spoiler
READ THIS BOOK. It’s so fast that you can’t even say you don’t have time for it. And it’s just cute and wonderful and beautiful. And with a plot and story that I’ve never seen before.