-by Nicola Yoon
-review by Lalit Jena
Madeline Whittier is an eighteen year old girl with a severe immunodeficiency disease, which by extension, means she is allergic to a lot of things, and might have severe consequences from exposure to even normal environments. So, she has not stepped outside in fifteen years, and is cared for by a nurse and her mother. Things change when new next door neighbors arrive, and among them, is Olly, a guy she starts developing feelings for. After meeting him, she starts having thoughts about what being ‘alive’ might mean, and she ends up making some choices, the consequences of which she would have to face.
“Wanting just leads to more wanting. There’s no end to desire.”
I remember coming across this line in my reading of this book and attaching its meaning to my want of just keeping the pages turning. I was thoroughly gripped by the style the author, Nicola Yoon, chose to drive the narrative. The general style of writing and the choices of the many beautiful illustrations in the book in the first half establish an aesthetic of teenage goofiness and the illustrations set up a vibe similar to The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The pacing of the early half is slow, with goofy and cute-sy love themes flying around. I personally do not enjoy many young-adult books, because of certain common themes, for example trying to make the characters seem way more mature than anyone their age, and failing at that, to mistakenly give fake ‘depth’ to the characters. ‘Everything, Everything’ does not attempt this. It is accurate in its portrayal of teen minds. It also helps that the book writing is quirky which allows a flavor of teenage mood swings. The second half of the book steps up the pacing to accommodate for the heavy consequences and the plot twist to take place. Overall, the aesthetic of the book is lovable, and serves as a major reason for anyone to end up liking the book.
“Spoiler alert: You don’t exist if no one can see you.”
‘Everything, Everything’ has many characters common with contemporary young adult books. Next-door quirky, cute guy, over-protective or aggressive parents. The protagonist undergoes a lot of development over the course of this book, changes which are even seen in her writings, how it turns from its initial goofy tones and short paragraphs to faster-to-the-point exposition and full- length chapters. Also, her interpretation of everything she does outside of her house is interesting to read, as it corresponds to her feeling those things for the first time in her life, and her naïve, childish explanations to the things she witnesses/undergoes. Other primary characters were also likeable, and were fun to read. But they do not undergo such huge character developments.
“Maybe we can’t predict everything, but we can predict some things.”
Now, for something I didn’t like as much. The plot line starts off as something interesting, and keeps entertaining up to the time the twist comes. The twist seems to be a leisurely written one, without much foreground establishing it, so much so, it comes off as a convenient twist. Yes, the twist is groundbreaking, but it is not as much captivating as it could have been (maybe). Instead, it just feels out of touch.
“A universe that can wink into existence can wink out again.”
Overall, the book is a quick, lovely young adult read. I enjoyed giving it a try, and would definitely recommend it as a must read.
Character Development: 8/10