Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Everything, Everything
“Sometimes I reread my favorite books from back to front. I start with the last chapter and read backward until I get to the beginning. When you read this way, characters go from hope to despair, from self-knowledge to doubt. In love stories, couples start out as lovers and end as strangers. Coming-of-age books become stories of losing your way. Your favorite characters come back to life.

Lately, I have been passing up YA books. I would read reviews and maybe express a desire to read the book but then change my mind a few minutes later. I have had so much trouble with YA books that I don't see any merit in trying them. Plus, reading time is at a premium nowadays. I was not keen to spend a lot of time on reading a book only to complain about my experience with it.

So, when Everything, Everything started showing up on book blogs (with rave reviews, that too), I went through the same drill. Yup, sounds good, but no thank you. At one point however, I requested the book from my library. By then, I had read so many good reviews that I was sure this book will be a pleasant experience. With YA books, the greater the hype, the better my chance of success with it.

If you don't yet know what this book is about, here's the low-down. Madeline is sick. Has been sick for 17 years and counting. She has been diagnosed with SCID, which is a condition where the afflicted person has such a poor immune system that said person can easily fall sick at any trigger (air, water, proximity to another person) and maybe even die. She isn't allowed outside her house and doesn't get many visitors. Those who do visit her have to go through a long decontamination process, plus they aren't allowed to touch her. So when some new neighbors move in, among them a cute guy named Ollie, who loves to dress in black, she doesn't think she is going to be friends with him. Her nurse, however, relents and lets her meet him and before soon, she is already falling in love with him. But how do you even have any kind of relationship with someone when you cannot spend a lot of time with them or when you are very sick?

Everything, Everything was delightful. It was funny, cute, and charming, and filled with teens that I loved. This is rare for me. Maddy was so easy to relate to, even if you don't have SCID. Ollie was the kind of guy I didn't expect to see among teens. And they made the cutest couple. Think Eleanor and Park. But what I loved most about this book was the way the book was written. It has short chapters and uses plenty of literary devices, like emails, plane tickets, online purchases, and doodles. It would have been a fun book to read even if the characters were boring.

But, I had two issues with this book. My biggest gripe had to do with the ending. It was just so out there and I felt cheated when it happened. SCID is a tragic enough thing to deal with and then the ending just felt... mocking. If you have read this book, you will know what I mean. My second issue was that the book focused mostly on Madeline and very little on the other characters. This, of course, is the problem with first-person narratives, and until the ending, I didn't really mind it. But once I finished the book, I wished Madeline's mother had a bigger role. Maybe the ending would not have been as disappointing if her mother had more of a presence in the book.

If you have read this book, what did you think of it?


I borrowed this book from the good old library.

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