The past few weeks I’ve been solely reading fantasy novels and I needed a change. While I was in England, I picked up the book Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon. I knew they made a film out of it (it’s not out yet here) and the premise sounded promising, so I picked it up. The fact that it wasn’t a long read might also have contributed to why I chose to read it. Anyway, the million-dollar question is, is the book any good? Let’s take a look.
As always, I have gone to good ‘ol Goodreads for the summary, because I still suck at writing summaries myself.
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.
It is a simple and entertaining read, yet I was left with mixed feelings by the end of it. This is a book that, while some parts of the book are unique, follows the carved-out path of YA romance, where love appears to be the most important reason for change. There is nothing wrong with that. However, the way it was executed in this novel just made it less believable. Our main character Madeline can’t leave her house, because she is allergic to everything. Then guess what? A cute boy moves in next door. She spies on him, he notices her and they fall in love via IM. That is not unheard of, but it all happened so quick and without a hitch that it basically felt like insta-love. And yes, I am very much aware that a stand-alone novel like this only has a limited amount of pages, but still. I did not really feel that this love was real. I need the feels, guys!
What’s good about it?
There are plenty of things that are actually good about this novel. Most importantly the fact that Madeline happens to be a bi-racial character. It is not often that POCs have a story in which they are represented by the main character. As I feel like books should be more diverse, this is a good thing. Another thing I liked about Olly, Madeline’s romantic interest, is that he is a genuine nice guy. Too often in YA, the love interest is a dick. Regardless, the female heroine always falls in love with him. But Olly is a good guy and it is important that good guys are put in the spotlight for a change.
But then why don’t you really like it?
It is hard to explain this, especially when you are so conflicted about a story as I am about this one. There are many good and cute moments, but there are also many things that weren’t so good about it, I guess. I already mentioned the Instalove, which went from budding friendship to deep love quite quickly. But I also feel like the illness Madeline suffers from is not accurately represented. Now I don’t have SCID, so I do not know much about it. But the problem was that the novel did not really explain much about it. We learn nothing about it from reading this book. And basically, Maddy faces the world outside at some point, mostly without it having any consequences (it does at some point, but I don’t want to give too much away).
I am not disabled, yet I had the feeling that Madeline’s disability was mostly used as a romantic hurdle in order to find love. And the plot twist, while I saw it coming at some point, can be quite problematic for those who are actually disabled. Basically, the novel is not truly about Madeline’s disability, which is a missed opportunity.
Should you read it?
The writing is nice and it is easy to get through this book. I enjoyed the characters but I did not so much enjoy the execution of the plot. However, this is not a definite no for me as I feel like every person will respond to this book differently. So if you should read it depends on whether the blurb appeals to you and whether you are okay with the shortcomings of the novel. I won’t be rereading it again.