REVIEW: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
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.
Publisher: Corgi Childrens (3 Sept. 2015)
!!! 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.
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.