Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola YoonEverything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte BFYR on September 1, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 240
Format: ARC
Source: Borrowed
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four-half-stars

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.

Once again, I fell victim to a gorgeous cover, though “victim” is definitely a misleading description. However, were it not for the cover, I’m not sure if I would have picked up Nicola Yoon’s debut YA novel. Despite a long history of good luck with darker YA, my first response is to wriggle away from it in favor of lighter, shippier fare. Yoon’s Everything, Everything lives up to the lovely, artistic, fanciful cover; it’s a beautiful, emotional tale that made me feel so many things.

Madeline Whittier is allergic to everything, everything, because she has SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency). Because of this disease, she can never leave her house. The white walls are her whole world Madeline interacts regularly only with her mother, Pauline, and her day nurse, Carla. Both love her a lot, and Madeline really is happy in her restricted white world. Obviously she’s dealing with a lot, but I thought it was really great how she found joy in her life as it was, especially since she had nothing to compare it to. The closeness of her relationships with both her mother and Carla is really touching, and I love the games her mom devised for just two players.

However, Madeline’s turning eighteen, and she’s starting to wish for something more, especially when a hot guy moves in next door. They strike up a flirtation over email, after he writes his address on his window, curious about the mysterious girl next door who he never sees outside her house. One of my favorite tropes is romance that develops through letters/emails, because there’s something different and compelling about that. For further great examples of this trope, check out Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda or Lying Out Loud.

Madeline comes alive in her messages to her parkour-loving neighbor, Olly. She discovers that she’s funny, beautiful, and desirable, rather than just being sick. All her life, her identity was wrapped up in her health, but now she’s getting to be so much more. Olly’s really great for her, too, even once he discovers the truth of why he never sees her outside. Their romance is very sweet, and I like that he worries for her without pitying her.

The central conflict of Everything, Everything revolves around whether it’s better to risk death and live vibrantly or to remain safe in the bubble. Yoon really made me feel Madeline’s choice. On the one hand, I very much wanted clever, wonderful Madeline to get to experience more than just the walls of her house. On the other, I didn’t want her to leave them, because I was so concerned for her health. While I loved the treatment of this, there’s a plot thing that sort of unravels all of this meaningful, thought-provoking stuff: View Spoiler »

Everything, Everything is made even more delightful by the inclusion of artwork by Madeline. She sometimes even writes pretend guidebook pages or dictionary entries. These, combined with her sassy conversations, really let Madeline’s brilliant personality shine out. She’s so talented and intelligent. I also loved her spoiler book reviews (spoiler: the only one she really spoils at all is Flowers for Algernon). Since Madeline hasn’t been able to go anywhere, she’s learned about the world through fiction, which is something to which we can all relate.

Nicola Yoon’s debut impressed me greatly. It’s a diverse, heart-touching read, and I’m looking forward to what she does next in her writing career.

Favorite Quote:

“They tried to stop me. They said it wasn’t worth my life, but I said that it was my life, and it was up to me to decide what it was worth. I said I was going to go and either I was going to die or I was going to get a better life.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif penelope i like myself

7 responses to “Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon”

  1. I just read this the other day and really loved it too. I really felt for Madeline, and I loved the illustrations throughout the novel and Maddy’s love for The Little Prince which is one of my favorite books.
    Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook recently posted…Review: Make Me by Tessa BaileyMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      The storytelling was such a delight. I like when authors try something different and it works out so well. 😀

  2. Just finished reading this book the other day, it was really good and I really loved it 🙂 But I sort found the romance to be a little bit to fast, insta-love. Otherwise I really enjoyed it 😀
    Kristin @ Simply Bookish Things recently posted…July’s Monthly Rewind And Other ShenanigansMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      In certain scenarios the fast instalovey thing works for me, and this was one of them. Given how isolated she was, this is such a big deal for you, and I think it heightened the intensity for him too.

  3. Layla says:

    Knowing that both you and Wendy loved this makes me excited as hell for it. (Read the spoiler though, and ugh, really? Not that I want a person who is not actually sick to be sick! But it seems like a kind of easy fix for what is otherwise a really complicated and interesting story.)

  4. I really enjoyed this one as well despite the ending. I’m also a huge sucker for books which include journal entries/e-mails, etc. Going to have to check out the two you recommend!
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Book Review – Replay by Ken GrimwoodMy Profile

  5. Lyn Kaye says:

    Did you start to get a REALLY weird vibe that led up to the huge reveal. There were little things that really never sat well with me, to the point where I was going to low-star the novel. But I kept telling myself “Wait it out, I bet there is an answer.” It was one of those big reveals that you could pick up on, but when it hit, it was still a heavy blow.

    I’m so thrilled you loved this one! I got it for the cover as well, and I am so happy that this wasn’t a cover-trap novel!
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Story Sprites Check-UpMy Profile

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