My Thoughts About Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (Book Review #135)

And I was able to finally finish reading Nicola Yoon’s first novel Everything, Everything! 🙂 I really did enjoy her second book The Sun is Also a Star that was published last year and after finishing it I told myself that I should read her first novel. The Sun is Also a Star made it to my list of my most favorite books of last year so I actually have a lot of expectations for Everything, Everything. But I have mixed feelings about it. This review will contain minor spoilers so proceed at your own risk.

What added to my excitement into reading this book is the fact that it’s movie adaptation is coming out soon. I am not sure when will it be shown here in the Philippines but the movie’s official release in the US will be tomorrow, the 19 of May. I didn’t want to be spoiled of what I was to read so I opted not to watch the trailer but everyone’s reaction in my Facebook timeline being in love with the trailer is enough for me to push my self and start reading the book.

“Everything’s a risk. Not doing anything is a risk. It’s up to you.”
― Nicola Yoon, Everything, Everything

The premise of this book is really unique. A girl who is allergic to everything. The book follows the story of Medeline, a 17-year old a half-African-American-half Japanese teenager, as she navigates her world where everything is a threat to her health. She has a very rare disease called Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) or the bubble baby disease. She’s literally allergic to the world. She can’t go outside and attend school like normal teenagers do. Her house is filled with air purifiers and everything she touches is sterilized. Her mom, who solely raised her after his husband and son dies in an accident made it a point that Madeline is away from the outside world. Madeline’s only connection to the outside world is the internet and her loving nurse who monitors her health condition every hour.

We follow her life as she navigates her life living with her mother who’s so protective of her. We follow her as she spends her days reading her books and finishing her schoolworks online. Her life took a turn with the arrival of a new boy at their neighborhood, Oliver or Olly. We follow her as she takes a plunge in that thing called love. We follow her as she get to know that boy living in a troubled household. We follow her as she deny to eventually acknowledging that she is indeed falling in love. We follow her as she makes questionable decisions. Questionable decisions that introduced her to freedom. Questionable decisions that introduced her to a world she’s been living but unsure how to navigate. Questionable decisions that made her to unravel family secrets that made her question her life that she’s living so far.

“prom·ise (ˈpräməs) n. pl. – es. 1. The lie you want to keep. [2015, Whittier]”
― Nicola Yoon, Everything, Everything

I like how the story of Madeline and Olly developed. I could not tag it as an insta-love since it has development. Madeline who is this reserve, wise and timid girl eventually falling to a mysterious and deep Olly. They are total opposite but they really compliment. They communicated by chatting online, sharing jokes and philosophical innuendos and sharing about their everyday lives. Olly made Madeline acknowledge the things that she’s been missing in her life. Because of Olly, Madeline realized that she can’t just stay at home and not take risk. Falling in love with Olly made Madeline brave to face what’s in the outside world. That boldness of Madeline though made it hard for me to appreciate her next actions. I did not appreciate that Madeline had to go to the extreme and sacrifice her well being and go outside to be with someone. It sends a wrong message as I felt like what the book is saying is, it’s fine to risk your life for love. I would’ve appreciated it if she made that decision for herself and prove that she can make decisions on her own for her future. I felt that she was blinded by love and it is not at all romantic.

Another thing that I was not able to appreciate was how Madeline and her relationship to her mother was handled towards the ending. I understand that the life she’d been living became this total lie that her overprotective mother crafted to make sure that Madeline is safe. I understand that she missed a lot of things a normal girl would’ve experienced and that she was deprived of that. I just couldn’t get over the fact that she left her mother at the end and with her words that it’s as if she chose her new life outside over her grieving mother. I did not feel that she neither acknowledged her mother’s situation nor tried to understand her. Madeline is aware that her mother is having some sort of mental problem as she still has not coped with the death of her husband and her son that’s why she contained Madeline at home. The fact that she left her mother who’s still grieving is just unacceptable for me. I feel like if I was the mother and I’ll be left again by the only person left in my life, it would be a total mental torture.

This book is an easy read. You can actually read it in one sitting. Aside from the book cover, the book’s format is also creatively done. It integrated a lot of cute illustrations, diagrams, a Madeline-version dictionary and parts where the story was told throung email exchanges between Madeline and Olly. That actually added more excitement to my reading experience. The book also paid homage to some classic films and books though spoilery at times. Yoon has this type of writing that is smoothly flowing and charming. You won’t notice the time passing until you reach the end. Yoon crafts diverse characters which I really appreciate. The characters are complex and with interesting backgrounds. Coupled with that is her ability to balance drama and humor seamlessly in her novels. She populate her books with this catchy and thought provoking lines.

“Just because you can’t experience everything doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experience anything.”
― Nicola Yoon, Everything, Everything

The only problem that I had with this book was how the story went. The beginning and the middle part is good and cute but after the main characters eventually fell in love with each other, the story just became too predictable and things started to go haywire for me. Then came Madeline’s decisions which i became uncomfortable about (like what I stated above).

Overall, this book is still an enjoyable read. I personally prefer The Sun is Also a Star. If you’re looking for a book with a unique premise, you can try Everything, Everything. Will I still watch the movie adaptation? Yes. I love the actors who will play the lead roles and I want to know how the book’s story will be translated into the big screen.

3 stars out of 5.

BOOK SPECIFICATIONS:

Author: Nicola Yoon
Format: Hardbound
Part of a Series: No
Release Year: September 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
No. of Pages: 310 pages

About the Author

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Nicola Yoon grew up in Jamaica (the island) and Brooklyn (part of Long Island). She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and daughter, both of whom she loves beyond all reason. Everything, Everything is her first novel.

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3 thoughts on “My Thoughts About Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (Book Review #135)

  1. I agree with everything you’ve said here. This is definitely an easy read and the uncovering of the secrets her mum kept from her was seen a mile away. However, the reactions to those revelations was not my favourite. I get that Madeline has the right to be pissed off with her mum but to just leave her like that really left a sour taste in my mouth. Yes, her mothers mental issues impacted Madeline in a monumental way but it’s also important to remember that her mum is suffering too.

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  2. Hey!
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