Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon is one of those books that have been on my TBR list for ages, but I couldn’t remember why. That happens you know – forgetting why I put a book on my wish list? Or that I even put a book on my wish list at all. That started happening once I became a book blogger. I get bombarded with book recommendations from other bloggers that sometimes I lose track. It’s especially bad because I’ve been a part of the book blogosphere since 2011, so that’s a lot of books that have made it onto my radar. Has that happened to you?
I will even admit I forget what Everything, Everything was about– just that it was a contemporary that was supposed to be an emotional read, and it came highly recommended. I didn’t even bother to read the synopsis when I bought it! I just saw that it was on sale, so in my cart it went.
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Released: September 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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 first thing that stood out to me was the formatting of the story. I thought I was going to dive into a heavy novel with beautiful and emotional prose, but instead Everything, Everything has short, two to three page chapters, and it includes some epistolary storytelling in the form of instant messages, emails, and homework assignments. The formatting was engaging and perhaps an effective way to show how isolated Madeline was. Through her e-mails and instant messages, readers catch a glimpse of what is inside her head while also seeing how she tries to connect with the people around her though limited those opportunities they may be. The formatting also happened to be the story’s downfall. The story addressed some heavy subject matter like mental health, physical abuse, chronic illness, death, and isolation, that I wish was explored further in prose.
I appreciated the relationship between Madeline and her nurse, Carla, who seemed to treat Madeline as though she was a normal teenager despite growing up in a bubble. This relationship feels more like a mother/daughter relationship compared to the relationship Madeline has with her own mother. There is conflict and some bickering between Madeline and Carla as Madeline tries to push her boundaries. But of course, the two love each other, and that comes through too.
Her relationship with her mom, on the other hand, seemed sterile and a touch unrealistic. The two get along too well, and the two don’t seem to have a history of conflict despite being cooped up with each other for so long.
The fast-paced relationship between Madeline and Olly, the dreamy boy next-door, also seemed unrealistic. I liked the bond the two formed. And despite Olly’s bad-boy appearance, he was kind and gentle and fun. But, their relationship seemed to move too fast considering how limited their interactions were. And Madeline seemed incredibly mature about everything despite her lack of socialization with people her age. She would probably argue that it’s because she’s read so many books. But, I don’t care how well-read someone is– relating to other teenagers, especially when hormones are buzzing, is easier said read than done!
The plot twist left me wanting more. Although, to call it a twist is inaccurate (for me). I wasn’t surprised the story took the turn that it did. I already had my suspicions after reading the first few pages.
After the twist was revealed, I thought “Oooh! Here is where things get juicy!” But there was no juice, and I was left feeling thirsty. The plot twist opened up more opportunity for conflict between Madeline and her mom, but the story didn’t go there. Madeline…just sort of ignores her mom and continues on with life, and the ending just sort of fizzled along.
Overall I appreciated Everything, Everything. The characters were likable, and the plot, though predictable, was new and refreshing (or, at least I haven’t read anything like it). The blend of prose and Epistolary storytelling made for an engaging and quick read– perfect for cluster feeding nursing sessions at two in the morning– but I don’t think the formatting allowed the reader to explore some of the heavier themes beyond the surface.