Rating: 2.5 Stars
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.
Note: I obtained Everything, Everything from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
[This Book in One Sentence: 18-year-old Madeline has a rare illness that can kill her if she ventures outside, but when she meets her new neighbor, she’s willing to sacrifice everything for a taste of true love.]
The sick teen theme (or trope; depends on how you look at it) is an actual trend in YA, which is understandable; the topic brings needed diversity to a culture that is so often focused on ableism. I did not have any problem with the subject matter. However, the words that come to mind when asked to describe Everything, Everything are “contrived,” “silly,” and “sad.” Not a positive trio for a book about young love against all odds. Not even for a novel about a sick girl who finds herself.
Everything, Everything is another creature entirely–one that’s not snarling and angry, nor cute and sassy, nor even kind and sorrowful. If this story were an animal, it would be a toad that seems shiny when you first notice it puttering around in a damp, dull swamp. But this is a toad with a particularly boring and off-putting personality. The falsely shimmering skin surface is its only interesting component.
And so, I feel no pain in critiquing this new publication. More editing and proofreading should have been done. Too late for that now. Here’s the gist of it.
The novel opens with Madeline going about her incredibly unique everyday life. She never leaves the house–ever. There’s a separate room in between the entrance and the rest of the building to ensure non-infected air along with a filtration system inside the house. A middle-aged day nurse named Carla is Madeline’s only friend. She’s never been inside a real school; it’s all online and inside the countless books she has read.
Madeline’s health requires these special considerations because she has SCID–a very rare disease that can quickly become fatal if she catches even the smallest cold or bit of bacteria. Madeline’s mom is a doctor who works with patients and takes care of her daughter; that is her mother’s entire life: no dates, hospital pals, or external hobbies. Madeline and her mom are best friends; they play a different game every evening and have movie, popcorn, girlish nights on an excessively regular basis.
But everything changes when a new family moves in next door. Madeline’s curiosity gets the better of her, and before she knows it, she’s swept into a romance that could quite literally kill her.
Madeline is supposed to be 18, but her behavior, thoughts and actions suggest that she has the mind of a 13-year-old. This would make sense, considering her lifetime isolation from the outside world. However, I feel like that makes it difficult for anyone who’s not 14 to enjoy it.
If Yoon’s market group is middle schoolers and high school freshmen, then okay. But if the ideal audience consists of teens and young adults in general, then a more powerful narrative voice is needed. And Madeline just isn’t it. It could be a combination of her immaturity and her being devoid of any interesting traits whatsoever. Either way, the voice indicates a more significant problem; this entire story is akin to cardboard.
Olly is the black-clad love interest with serious family problems and a simple heart. Although I had sympathy for his character’s home life, that’s where my feelings for him were abruptly halted. It’s not that he’s unlikable; there’s not enough of him to like. He climbs objects and makes corny jokes. Oh, and he’s kind of stupid. These would be endearing if only the story had stopped to focus more on making him seem like a real person, not a one-dimensional object used to coax Madeline and her story along.
Carla has a big heart, and I have no qualms about her character when comparing it to everyone else in this story. She might be the most real person in the book, but she makes some decisions that I doubt any real nurse anywhere would ever make. I’ll just chalk that up to Carla being an unstable person.
Madeline’s mother is my favorite and the only reason that the story’s rating wasn’t dropped even further. She was the minuscule speck of literary redemption that Everything, Everything needed to for me to rate it above 1 1/2 stars.
This book wasn’t fleshed out enough to have sufficient atmosphere. How can a story have atmosphere when the reader is barely able to stay in the world for more than a few minutes at a time? I’m of the opinion that each book is a portal. And unfortunately, Everything, Everything‘s portal kept spitting me back out. There’s no word magic to be found here, folks.
Everything, Everything‘s pervasive theme of humanity’s constant hunger for more is important. But the execution dulled everything, everything about this damn book. *eyeroll*
It’s dull; it lacks pizzazz; if you were thrown into the world of Everything, Everything, you’d die of boredom.
There is a big twist at the end that makes you question everything you thought you knew about the lives of the characters. Personally, it was my favorite part, but that’s not saying much. Everything, Everything is just mediocre. I became so bored that it took me more than a week to finish it. I partially judge books by how difficult they are to put down, and this one made it very easy.
Nevertheless, many others have found a fantastic tale within the pages. Venture there if you must. But don’t expect anything new, extraordinary or complex.
I’d recommend Everything, Everything to younger teens and lovers of simplistic young adult romance.
This book is going to be published on September 1st, 2015 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers.