Book Reviews

Review — Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Book title: Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte (Random House Children’s)
Release date: September 1st, 2015
Format: Egalley, 320 pages
Source: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Delacorte and Random House!

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Synopsis:

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.


The review:

Everything, Everything is about a girl who is allergic to, well, everything. Madeline has a very rare disease called SCID, which stands for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency. Basically, this means that Maddie has about a gazillion triggers that could cause her immune system to go haywire and make her extremely ill, even life-threateningly ill. Therefore, she’s grown up — almost all eighteen years of her life — cooped up in a completely sterile house, complete with an airlock room in between the front door and the rest of the house.

Before reading this book, I’d actually been spoiled for the major plot twist. Back then, I scoffed and rolled my eyes and thought, Well, that’s lame and quite mean. Knowing the twist while reading the book definitely affected my reading experience, as I had an eyebrow permanently raised. I also think this hampered by ability to connect to some of the characters as much, since I knew what was going to happen in the end. Still, I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Solid 3.5 stars as of finishing it, when I’d initially thought I’d rate it anywhere from 2 to 3 stars. Props to Nicola Yoon for her easy writing style and the awesome different mediums that tell the story: emails, online chats, post-it notes, etc. It made the story move very fast, despite it taking place in only two locations, and gave a more realistic glimpse at Maddie’s relationships with the few people in her life.

The book’s main plot is forbidden romance. Ollie (Oliver) moves into the house nextdoor. He’s cute, he’s funny, he’s intelligent. Maddie’s never had any friends and has never been allowed outside. She can rarely have visitors because there’s a long process to completely decontaminate them of outside germs that most people find more trouble than it’s worth. But back to Ollie. Maddie’s eighteen. She’s got all those raging teenage hormones that have never been allowed to see the light of day, literally. She becomes friends with Ollie through online communications and from their opposite bedroom windows. Eventually, she guilts her nurse, Carla, into letting Ollie visit. And thus, we have our forbidden romance, since meeting Ollie is something Maddie and Carla decide to keep a secret from Maddie’s mother. Maddie’s mother is a doctor, and also her doctor. Overprotective and overbearing mother alert!

I liked Maddie and understood her frustration and fear, as well as her happiness and acceptance. Ollie was my favorite character, though. He was absolutely adorable! Carla was great, too, definitely like a second mother to Maddie, since she’d raised Maddie whenever mom couldn’t be there. I also liked how Maddie is half Japanese, half African-American. Diversity, yay!

Everything, Everything did take me by surprise. It’s a unique topic with a typical trope, but was a quick and engaging read. I just wish SCID had been explained more. For something so rare to have an entire novel devoted to it, I would have liked more information on the disease. Alas, I had to look it up online to satisfy my curiosity. (It’s also called “Bubble Boy Disease” because there was a boy with SCID who lived in a germ-free plastic bubble for twelve years.)

Before I go, I just want to repeat: I was spoiled for the twist that some reviewers think cheapens the entire book. I have no idea what my reaction would have been if I’d gone into this book blind. The fact that I was spoiled gave me a different look at the story while reading it. I ended up trying to piece things together and look for clues that would lead to the big twist. Maybe if I hadn’t known it was coming, I’d have been smacked up the side of the head and might be ticked off. Or maybe I would have loved it. I don’t know, and I will never know. ♦


So tell me…

Have you read Everything, Everything? If you haven’t, would you be interested to? What’s a book you’ve read featuring a protagonist with an illness? What’s a book you liked featuring a forbidden romance? Comment below letting me know! And, as always, happy reading!

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4 thoughts on “Review — Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

    1. I definitely recommend this book. It’s a really fast read and focuses on “forbidden romance” in a really different way, because the main character has a disease that prevents her from doing normal things. And yes, hooray for racially diverse characters!

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