Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon – A Book Review: ★★★★★

mild spoilers

As the film adaptation of Everything Everything was recently released, there’s been so much chat and tumblr buzz over Nicola Yoon’s story.

Here was my process of discovery:

  1. Finds the film trailer on tumblr
  2. Watches said trailer
  3. Gets hyped
  4. Finds out about book version of Everything Everything
  5. Gets even more hyped
  6. Clicks the ‘Proceed to Checkout’ button on amazon and never looks back

So, anyway… Everything Everything (2015) tells the story of Madeline Whittier, an eighteen year-old girl with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) – to simplify things, Madeline is allergic to the world. Any outdoor germs can cause her fatality. Madeline lives only with her mum in a house catered to her condition. Her father and brother have both passed away, so her world extends to her mother and nurse, Carla. Maddy lives in the bubble her condition traps her in, until Olly moves in next door when everything, everything changes.

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Firstly, I thought Maddy was a brilliant protagonist. In mainstream YA there aren’t many protagonists her age, and I think on Yoon’s end it was a good choice. Eighteen is the age of freedom and oncoming maturity, and the romance in Everything Everything sounds a lot more convincing coming from an eighteen year-old than a sixteen year-old. Now, the next point, it may be due to my poor choosing, but I don’t often come across POC protagonists (so please do feel free to recommend me some!) and it was refreshing to read something straying from the trope of ‘I’m a white, beautiful, yet troubled girl’. In fact, this book wasn’t typically 90% white, I loved Yoon’s diverse characters. She even had a POC gay character whose sexuality wasn’t the focus of the plot. Four for you Nicola Yoon, you go Nicola Yoon!

Another reason I loved Maddy was because of how relatable she was. Books are Maddy’s life. I loved her little scribblings at the front of her books and it was clever how Yoon tied this into the plot. Although introverted, Maddy is very ambitious and brimming with wanderlust. Written from the first perspective, Yoon is wonderful at making you appreciate the small beauties of life through the eyes of boxed-in Maddy.

The contrast between Maddy and Olly worked really well. Olly was energy and wonder incarnate whilst Maddy was more on the cautious side. Their relationship over IMs and window messages was so enjoyable to read. It reminded me a lot of Taylor Swift’s video for You Belong with Me. The obstacle of Maddy having to stay at home constantly seemed to electrify the moments when Olly and Maddy got closer to one another. Reading this, I felt like I was reliving my own first taste of love. Their relationship is so pure, beautiful, and entertaining. I never wavered in rooting for their relationship, and that’s quite an impressive feat to achieve from Yoon’s end. Although, where the book ended didn’t quite feel right to me, I needed more from Maddy and Olly, it may just be the sign of a good book but I wasn’t satisfied. I needed more things to gush over!

Although I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading this, I spotted a few gaps in logic. Maddy has stayed inside her house for eighteen years yet she never exercises? Surely her health would have deteriorated quickly? (Just a little criticism, but I’m picky.) Also, Maddy is described as ‘never being depressed’ in all her years of confinement, I find this highly unlikely.

Something which also made Everything Everything a fun read was in Yoon’s experimentalism. Yoon includes multiple forms of writing in the novel, ranging from childhood letters,emails, IM messages to doctor’s reports. Besides all of these complementing the plot, a handful of beautiful illustrations accompany the story. I wouldn’t say these elements made the story appear babyish, more than anything it helped to personalise the story, and made it feel more like Maddy’s diary.

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I can honestly say that this is my favourite book that I’ve read this year. There were moments in my day where I wanted to put off things to join Maddy and Olly’s story. I savoured this word for word. I cannot praise this book highly enough. I’ll definitely be reading Yoon’s other work and I’m so excited to see Amandla Stenberg’s portrayal of Maddy when the film is released where I live. Go read this!!

 


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