REVIEW: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

REVIEW: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Contemporary, Review, Romance, Teen/YA

Synopsis

Maddy is allergic to the world; stepping outside the sterile sanctuary of her home could kill her. But then Olly moves in next door. And just like that, Maddy realizes there’s more to life than just being alive. You only get one chance at first love. And Maddy is ready to risk everything, everything to see where it leads.

 

 

 

 

Book Details

Publisher: Corgi Childrens (3 Sept. 2015)
Format: Paperback
Language: English
ISBN-10:  0552574236
ISBN-13: 978-0552574235

Buy it: AmazonWaterstones

Review

!!! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS !!!

It’s practically impossible to review this book without spoilers sorry. I’ve tried to keep them hidden but I may have missed some bits, if you’ve yet to read the book then you have been warned!

I have to confess that I hadn’t actually heard about this book until a few months ago when I first started looking at book accounts on Instagram (Yay #bookstagram!).  Then I saw the cover crop up quite a bit, and when I asked for reading recommendations it was on the list.  So when I found it in the shops as part of the buy one get one half price deal, I grabbed a copy… and boy am I glad I did!

What you are about to read here may come across as a bit of a contradiction because I absolutely loved this book, but I also have issues with it.  The reason the problems I had with it did impact too much on the rating I gave it, is because the book as a whole was so well written that they didn’t spoil the book for me.  I appreciate that this wont be the case for everyone, because really, they aren’t small niggles and if I hadn’t been so swept up in the story by the characters that I’d probably have sat staring at the book wondering what the heck the author was thinking.

So… Everything, Everything is about a girl called Maddy who suffers from SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency), which basically means she has to live in a ‘bubble’ because she is allergic to everything.  The only human contact she has is with her mother (who is also her doctor) and her nurse, Carla.  One of her tutors visits very occasionally but there is never any physical contact and all other encounters/schooling is done online.  And then Olly and his family move in next door and Maddy’s monotonous days become far less dull.  As I’ve already mentioned, I was totally swept up in the story and loved all the characters, and by the end of the end of the book I felt like I’d been on one heck of an emotional roller-coaster ride.  So far, so good.

And then I took some time to process what it was I’d just read and I realised that while I did still love the book, there were some things that didn’t ring true and that bothered me.  For some people the things I’m mentioning now would probably drop the rating of the book much lower in their eyes.  Firstly, the impression is given that Maddy can’t really ‘live’ because she has to stay inside her bubble and miss out on so many experiences… Now I have no experience of SCID or similar conditions but I’m sure it must be possible to live a full and engaging life even when so severely limited and to infer that staying safe from potential death within her bubble is not really ‘living’ seems quite a harmful suggestion.

Spoiler:

Secondly, When Maddy decides she wants to get out there and ‘live’ she seems to have zero regard for her well-being.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand that she was excited to be out and experiencing things for the first time in her life but why did it suddenly have to be so all or nothing?  Why fly off to Hawaii, swim in the ocean, eat so many new foods… she didn’t even make a point of buying latex free condoms, and for someone supposedly allergic to everything you’d have thought that’s be the least she could do.  If it wasn’t for the ‘twist’ she probably wouldn’t have even made it that far because even her nurse dished up food she’d never eaten before and probably would have triggered a reaction.  It would have been nice to see her attempting to ‘live’ a little without suddenly throwing all caution to the wind and becoming so reckless over her health.

Then we have some smaller niggles (smaller to me at least).  How did Maddy’s mother get to be her only doctor?  Surely this should have raised concerns especially when Maddy went from lots of appointments as a baby to essentially dropping off the radar.  And Carla (I actually loved this character), she says she had wondered if maybe Maddy’s mother was suffering from mental health issues after the family tragedy, and that Maddy might not actually be ill.  So surely there was a way as a medical professional (and therefore patient advocate), to seek some kind of advice/second opinion, even discreetly or anonymously, rather than let a traumatised mother essentially keep her perfectly healthy daughter prisoner for eighteen years.

I did however love the ‘twist’ personally, although I can appreciate that to many it might feel like a bit of a cop out.  But then from quite early on I did wonder if maybe she wasn’t actually sick so I guess the surprise twist was less of a shock.  I’m kind of angry at myself for loving the book so much even in the face of all of these problems, but I just can’t help it.

Despite all of the problems I had, I did love the book and suggest that others read it too, even if it’s just to form their own opinions on it.  It has engaging characters, a gripping story and is written in a quirky format that really works well, with short chapters written in email, IM and illustrations as well as the more traditional text.  It’s a book that will probably divide opinion and get people talking… and that’s okay with me.


N.B. The books used for this review were purchased by the reviewer.

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