Sunday, October 11, 2015

Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Title: Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Corgi Children's
Published Date: 3 September 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

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 Maddie, tiny holes start to appear in the protective bubble her mother has built around her. Olly writes his IM address on a piece of paper, shows it at her window, and suddenly, a door opens. But does Maddie dare to step outside her comfort zone?

Everything, Everything is about the thrill and heartbreak that happens when we break out of our shell to do crazy, sometimes death-defying things for love.
(summary from Goodreads)


Everything, Everything is a beautiful and sad story with great characters, but certain plot elements disappointed me.

The thing about Everything, Everything is that while reading it, I couldn't get a particular movie out of my head. Bubble Boy anyone? Don't tell me I'm the only one that remembers this movie! Anyways. As certain things in Everything, Everything occurred, as certain coincidences came to light, I couldn't help but realise where Yoon was going and so the huge twist that is a significant part of this story simply wasn't effective. While that did frustrate me, it also couldn't be helped. It wasn't as impacting as intended but it was still emotional and I can appreciate that. What actually really bugged me was Maddy's choices in the lead up to the twist and after. She chooses to face life and death situations for a boy, and I gotta tell you, I just couldn't take it seriously. I understand the reasoning. Maddy was essentially a prisoner, hadn't truly lived - but I can't get past the naivete of it to find it romantic. The back of my book even tells me how "Everything, Everything is about the crazy risks we take for love" but it was just too much. I was also seriously disappointed with where Yoon chose to leave Maddy and her mother's relationship. I definitely get the anger. I cannot even imagine that kind of betrayal. But there is legitimate mental illness here and to me it felt brushed aside and rushed right over simply so Maddy could get the guy. Certainly I wanted that to happen, was absolutely cheering for it, and how it happened was cute and fitting. But not at the expense of true depth of story! Something great and touching could have been developed here, but instead it felt skipped over.

Reading back over that you may be wondering if I'm sure I liked Everything, Everything! I swear I did. I just could have loved it, is all. What I did really like was Yoon's writing style and characters. Everything, Everything is quite quirky in style. The book is full of Maddy's personal definitions of particular words, her one sentence spoiler book reviews (um, beware of those!), her detailed stalker lists of Ollie's family's routines - it's a little wacky. The prose is short and snappy and can be easily read in just a couple of hours. I was half way though this book before I even realised, and wholly engaged. But I also think this adds to my earlier issues a little - despite some heavy plot lines, Yoon ultimately kept Everything, Everything light and quick. It's also full of adorable and funny art that enrich the story. Really, this book is a wonder in terms of cute and humour. Which considering it's plot - again, wacky. Yoon's characters were a big part of this. Maddy is great. She's sad and lonely, intelligent and strong, and full of sass. At least to begin with. I had some serious love for Maddy early on, but as already discussed, her choices didn't work for me. In the end, Maddy's immaturity stuck out more. Still, her cleverness and determination are moving. Maddy's relationship with Olly was sweet. How it developed always had me grinning. Olly is a truly nice guy, complex and interesting. I do wish we could've read from his point of view too. His story also added serious and important issues to the narrative, and I think they were handled more thoughtfully and fulfilling than those of Maddy and her mother. There's not a wide array of secondary characters in Everything, Everything, considering Maddy's isolation. Those we did meet though were memorable and bring something unique to the story.

Everything, Everything wasn't everything I wanted it to be. Oh, see what I did there? But seriously - this book is a sassy, light, fun, troubling story easily consumed and enjoyed. But it ultimately lacked that lasting hit for me.


1 comment:

  1. I kept seeing John Travolta as The Boy in the Plastic Bubble lol

    I really liked this book but I totally agree with you about the mother/daughter relationship. that wasn't just a small difference of opinion. Instead of addressing that Yoon went for romance. It was a nice romance but sad that she just swept dealing with the mom's issues under the rug.

    Karen @For What It's Worth