Nicola Yoon’s debut novel was hugely hyped up following BEA 2015, but it was only after it was chosen for Zoella’s WHSmith’s book club (which features some brilliant, albeit obvious, recommendations for fans of YA contemporary) that I finally thought to pick it up.
Everything, Everything is the story of Madeline who has SCID, a rare illness known as ‘bubble baby disease’, which essentially means that she is allergic to everything. She hasn’t left the house for 17 years, her front door has an airlock, and on the rare occasion her tutor is allowed to visit, he has to go through vigorous health checks and a decontamination process before being allowed near her. One day, a new family move into the house across the road and she catches the eye of Olly, the all-black wearing, parkour-loving teenage boy who changes everything. They quickly start emailing and (as is inevitable in YA) Maddy starts to fall for him, despite the impossibility of them ever even being in the same room.
This is one of the best US-based YA romances I have read in recent years. The romance is heartwarming, cute and believable (a rare combination!) and I loved how their inability to even hold hands or hug became an exaggerated version of how it feels before a relationship begins and the object of your admiration is still physically off-bounds. They become hyperaware of every movement of their bodies – a shuffle of his foot, a twitch of her elbow. I felt every minute of their relationship, but also of Maddy’s risks. I held my breath for a good proportion of the book, fearing that she would get ill at any moment, and it kept me turning the pages.
The ending was, for me, completely unexpected and made this book go from simply being a strong addition to the contemporary YA scene, to something a bit more interesting.
The only thing that irked me slightly was that it took a cute boy to get Maddy to take risks and want to live her life more fully, meaning the book fell dangerously close to the common theme in YA fiction of ill teenage girls being ‘saved’ by a boy. But, to the book’s credit, the romance was so believable that it was only several days later that this even occurred to me.
I flew through Everything, Everything in just under 24 hours. It’s perfect for lovers of YA romance, fans of the 1976 film The Boy in the Plastic Bubble starring John Travolta (which surely inspired this book?!) and anyone needing a quick page-turner to get out of a reading slump.
Have you read Everything, Everything? Would you like to? Let me know below!