With a new film on the cards (and with my copy slowly gathering dust on the shelf) I decided it was high-time I got round to reading Everything, Everything. For me it was a far cry from what its title suggested but I’m glad I finally picked it up. It was a very quick read (I finished it within hours of starting) but had a few merits worth commenting on. The following, as usual, is only my own response but I’d like to hear your views on this one…
Title: Everything, Everything Author: Nicola Yoon
Date published: 2015
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.
This book was one I’d heard a great deal of buzz for before I started reading and so I really expected it to become a firm favourite of mine. Sadly, for me it fell short for more than one reason.
Initially, I liked the format of the narrative, the way it was interspersed with book reviews, Instant messages/emails, paper notes, and charts was something I felt fitted well with the character and helped to keep me interested whilst reading. I have a lot of respect for writers that challenge the form of the novel and play around with info-graphics and new things (it was a favourite feature in Illuminae!) That being said, these pages contributed a lot to the overall page number of the book and, honestly, I feel more of that number should’ve been used to build the plot and generate tension. The story, for me, just felt far too rushed and it almost seemed as if the author had cut parts away.
I never really felt fear, or loneliness or even a little stir crazy whilst reading about Madeline’s story. (and this is a book where a girl lives in restricted space so that’s really saying something.) There were real moments of hardship and discovery (those who have read this will know the one’s I mean) within the plot but they just seemed underdeveloped or rushed. At one of the most pivotal moments I really wanted my heart to race and the hairs on my arms to stand on end but the book just didn’t carry that level of emotional strength for me. It had so much potential as a tearjerker but I just didn’t feel connected enough. ** MILD SPOILERS AFTER THIS** I both liked and disliked a major twist as it it took away the books main selling point and under-performed as a heart-racer for me. On the other hand It did succeed in taking me by surprise which was a pleasant and extremely satisfying experience. ** SPOILER FREE FROM NOW**
A lot of the things that irritated me about this read (the lack of tension, shortness of the narrative etc.) are things that can be altered and improved upon for the film so it’s definitely possible the film will be massive. I’m keen to see it to see if it changes my view on the book. It’s not that the book is terrible it’s just not entirely to my taste; it’s borne of a genre I’m fast moving away from and perhaps is a bit too literal for me now. I did like the emphasis on the idea of human beings ‘always wanting more than we have’, it was a very true sentiment, a little reminiscent of Sister Carrie (though more understandable in Maddy’s circumstance I think.)
The tone of the actual narration was something I really enjoyed. Unlike other popular books I’ve been unimpressed by (TFIOS being one that comes to mind) I really liked the main character. Madeline was an unconventional girl next door with a wit and individuality that really made this read better. I even found I didn’t cringe at the cheesy romantic elements and the romantic plot thread that, ultimately, dominates the book. Olly and Maddy begin their encounter in a peculiarly unique predicament, Maddy is allergic to the world and they can only communicate though the windows, oh yeah, and via internet. Olly has his own problems but is fascinated by the sick girl. What’s nice is how the book puts a new spin on the ‘sick kid’ narrative but in the end it just wasn’t enough for me.
But, I will say, it turned out to be a very quick read so do give it a go if you want to find out for yourself.
2 out of 5
If you have any other suggestions or insights feel free to message me or leave them in the comments section below!
– Cat –