Book review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

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In the last seventeen years, Madeline Whittier hasn’t left her house once.  Allergic to everything, Madeline takes classes online from the comfort of her purified home.  She isn’t allowed to have friends, isn’t allowed to eat food that isn’t bland, can’t even check out books from a library for fear of pathogens and allergens.  Madeline has never known anything different and is perfectly satisfied with her life.

Then she meets Olly.  Oliver Bright is Madeline’s new neighbor, and he is so alive.  He makes Madeline feel things that she’s never before felt, and suddenly, Madeline is contemplating what life might be like outside of her bubble.

So, you know I have this thing with hype where books that I expect to be good often end up disappointing me.  I was worried about Everything, Everything because the lowest rating any of my friends have given it is 4 stars.  My friends have given it an average of 4.67 stars.  On Goodreads as a whole, with over 177,000 ratings, the book has a 4.1 average.  Clearly, the consensus is that this book is good.  My thoughts going into this book were pretty much just, “Please be good. Please be good. Please be good.”

The verdict? It’s good.  Nicola Yoon is an incredibly talented writer and I’m finding it very hard to believe that this was her debut novel.  Not only did she craft an entirely relatable character in Madeline, but she’s legitimately funny.  I mean,

He grins at me and his face is no longer stark, no longer severe. I try to smile back, but I’m so flustered that I frown at him instead.

Who hasn’t been there?  I feel like this happens to me on a daily basis.

Having lived her entire life inside, Madeline is a pure, innocent cutie patootie.  Everything amazes her.  Everything is a new experience.  Something as simple as an IM or email from the neighbor totally changes her life.  In many ways, it’s absolutely heartbreaking.

Olly is your stereotypical YA love interest, but you know what?  I loved him and I don’t really care what other people think.  He was the perfect combination of funny and sweet and that particular kind of surly that’s mostly just endearing.  I just wanted to scoop Olly up and protect him from all the terrible things in his life.  Is that too much to ask?

Now, I’ve seen a number of reviews (not from my Goodreads friends, but in general) that complain about the way that Yoon chose to end this book.  Personally, as someone who has worked in the medical field for several years and knows at least a bit about immunosuppression, I say that ending coming.  I can’t even claim to be a little surprised, but the big plot twist was glaringly obvious to me.  (There will be no spoilers in this review, but I’d be happy to get into this in the comments.)  That said, knowing how it would end actually made me happier rather than ruining it.  The last thing I wanted was some The Fault in Our Stars type of tearjerking ending.

This is a (mostly) warm and fuzzy book about some teenagers who fall in love and everything that they have to overcome to be together.  It’s also filled with a number of cute drawings from Yoon’s husband, miniature book reviews from Maddy, and dictionary definitions in the context of the book.  All in all, it’s a wonderful, imaginative debut and I’m heading over to my local library’s website right now to put a hold on The Sun Is Also A Star.

Final rating: ★★★★★

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