‘There’s more to life than being alive.’
Nicola Yoon grew up in Jamaica and Brooklyn and now lives in LA. Everything, Everything is her first novel and has been highly successful since its publication in 2015. In May 2017 it will be released as a film starring Amanda Stenberg (The Hunger Games) and Nick Robinson (Melissa & Joey). In 2016, Yoon released her second novel, The Sun is also a Star, which has also proved popular.
‘This extraordinary first novel about love so strong it might kill us is too good to feel like a debut. Tender, creative, beautifully written, and with a great twist, Everything, Everything is one of the best books I’ve read this year’ – Jodi Picoult
‘An absolute peach of a love story. Maddy’s unique history of isolation and solitude makes every incremental step towards intimacy crackle with impossible hope. Their chemistry rebounds off the page. And it’s beautifully written too, with charm, wit and style as well as heart’ – Susie Day, author of My Invisible Boyfriend
As far as I can remember, the first time I saw this book was as part of Zoella’s book club for W.H. Smith’s. I then saw this book on Instagram as it was shared by lots of bookstagrammers that I follow using my blog account. I looked it up on Goodreads and read the description and added it to my ‘to-read’ shelf thinking I would get around to it at some point. However, then I heard it was becoming a film and after watching the trailer I knew I would want to see the film in May and would therefore want to read the book first. However, it seems other people were having the same idea as I ended up on a waiting list for the book at the library.
‘Chaos theory says that even a small change in initial conditions can lead to wildly unpredictable results.’
The premise of the novel is fairly simple, but Maddy’s life is pretty complicated. Maddy is eighteen and is essentially allergic to the world. There is no telling what may make her ill, it could be a person’s perfume or some dust, so she remains inside her house. Her house has been specially adapted with air filters and everything she needs, including a place to decontaminate people when they enter. Yet the only people Maddy really sees are her mum and her nurse Carla. Until Olly moves in next door. There is an immediate connection between Maddy and Olly but nothing can be simple when Maddy cannot leave her house and lives a very limited life. Yet, what risks would the pair take for love?
The book is structured like no other book I have ever read. It has chapters, but they are usually pretty short and can sometimes be only one paragraph long. I would say that each chapter is more like an idea, or a particular subject. They usually comprise one episode or thought which I found a little odd to start but is actually quite clever. Yoon’s husband David has done the illustrations in the book, as there are a few, as well as pages laid out as e-mails, websites and instant messenger. I really like all of this and I think that it fits in with the young adult demographic of the book.
The novel is narrated in the first person by Maddy. This is the natural choice because it is Maddy’s thoughts and feelings that are most important for the reader to know in the novel as the novel really centres around her. Also, I do not think we need the other character’s feelings in the same way because theirs are easier to work out through their words and actions. However, knowing Maddy’s inner thoughts and feelings gives the reader a close bond to her and means that it is her we empathise with the most, which is perfect for this novel and its plot.
As a character, I feel that Maddy is very relatable. She is an avid reader, which I liked, and as she has never had a relationship before she has all the usual nerves and worries about things going wrong or getting hurt. Maddy is very close to her mum, which is to be expected in her circumstance, and it is clear that she cares for her a lot. Yet it is also evident that Maddy would be prepared to risk a lot to live a little more. I cannot imagine spending around 18 years inside the house unable to leave. Of course, Maddy remembers little of being outside, but that still does not make it any easier when you know that there is a big world to explore.
‘I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.’
Yoon has created the perfect love interest for Maddy in Olly. What I liked about him is that he does not feel like he is not flawless like a lot of love interests. I think that he is believable as a character for a young adult book whilst also keeping that feeling of a perfect love interest that makes a romance so enjoyable. Just like Maddy he is experiencing these feelings for the first time and despite the fact that he has experienced more of the world than Maddy, he feels just as inexperienced when it comes to his feelings.
‘Love can’t kill you.’
The relationship between Maddy and Olly is really sweet, their chemistry brilliant, and I felt that Yoon really captures the feeling of young love and experiencing things for the first time. Both characters are a little hesitant every now and again, feeling worried about hurting the other and moving too quickly, and I think all of this is very relatable, especially to a young adult audience. Also, despite Maddy’s feelings (and probably Olly is the same) being enough to risk everything, Yoon does not make their relationship heavy or over the top. There always remains a lightness, especially through a little flirting, and I think it is largely Olly who brings this. The way that Yoon writes the romance and Olly and Maddy’s interactions feels honest and from the heart and I really liked that this book feels like it is not trying to be a spectacular romance. It felt like something that people do experience, especially when they are young and willing to take risks like Maddy and Olly.
‘Life is a gift. Don’t forget to live it.’
When reading the novel, I liked the inclusion of instant messages. This added more of a realness and was especially necessary because it was largely the only way for Maddy and Olly to communicate. I think that Yoon uses these messages well to explore Maddy and Olly both as characters individually and also their relationship. I think that it is largely thanks to the messages between Maddy and Olly that their relationship feels so real and I think that a lot of the young adult audience would feel the same. Maybe this is not classically romantic, but I do not think that is what Yoon is aiming for. She has written a novel for the present day that feels real and relatable to its readership.
One of my favourite scenes in the novel was the scene where Maddy and Olly first kiss. It felt so sweet and tender and I think it is at this point that both the reader and Maddy and Olly themselves realise that their feelings are pretty strong and they will be unlikely to give up too easily on their relationship. This is one of the scenes where Yoon’s descriptions of Maddy’s feelings are brilliant. They are so tender and honest and part of you gets lost in those feelings yourself. This was also the moment where my mind went off trying to work out how their relationship could work when Maddy is unable to leave her house. I felt that their chemistry was so strong and that there had to be a way.
I do not want to say too much about the rest of the story, so I am going to move to the ending. I think that the end really suits the novel and although Yoon could have chosen to explain a little more what happens to Maddy and Olly, she leaves us on an important moment and allows our own minds to wonder what may have happened next which I think fitted perfectly.
I would really recommend this book, especially to young adults who enjoy a sweet romance. I read this pretty quickly as I got totally caught up in Maddy’s story and I think that if you have experienced young love then a lot of the feelings will strike a chord with you.
‘And just like that, everything changes.’
Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon, first published in 2015 by Corgi Books, RRP £7.99, ISBN 978-0-552-57423-5
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