Title: Everything, Everything*
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Press/Penguin Random House
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Goodreads | BookDepository
“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 17 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 back. His name is Olly. Maybe I 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. “
Everything, Everything – coming like the Hogwarts Express on September 1st – has received major buzz in the book community, as far back as BEA and Yall West when the first ARCs were released into the world. But rather than an intense PR campaign, it was readers who generated the most hype for this book. I’m always more inclined to read a new release when other readers loved the book itself, not just the marketing gifts. (But that’s a discussion for another day.) Spoiler alert: this book is worth the hype.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that I do not enjoy YA contemporary on the whole, and am highly critical of the books in that I genre I do read. Nicola Yoon’s debut novel is a powerful representation of one girl’s isolation and desire to experience the world beyond her house – a world that could kill her. Maddy has Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), a disease that makes her allergic to everything, so her life is strictly regimented inside of the house she can never leave. This premise drew me in, but the characters kept me committed to the story.
Maddy, our protagonist, is held apart from the world, but not completely removed from it. Maddy felt so vibrant to me, and I enjoyed her personality and that she makes the most of her situation. She reads and posts reviews on her Tumblr, but everything that enters her house has to be sterilized. When Olly moves in next door with his black clothes and harsh family, Maddy knows she shouldn’t get attached. But inetivably, Olly and Maddy strike up a friendship, and then more, and Maddy realizes more than ever how unhappy she is within her bubble. The relationship between Maddy and Olly is really earnest and cute, and the reader gets to chart their progress through instant messages and drawings (all done by Yoon’s husband!)
Everything, Everything is so much more than “sick lit,” and I appreciated that there was another side to this story I didn’t expect. The ending completely took me by surprise, and I won’t say anything remotely spoilery other than: wow. Just, wow. Did not see that one coming. But it was, at the same time, brilliant. This is contemporary with some punch, y’all.
It’s also worth noting that Everything, Everything brings a dose of much-needed diversity to contemporary YA. Maddy is a POC and has a disability, which I honestly don’t think I’ve encountered before this book. There have been some mentions of another 2015 release with a female protag who’s allergic to seemingly everything (cough Magonia cough), and whether the two books are similar. In short: no. Everything, Everything is nothing like Magonia – and we all remember how I felt about that one. I adored Everything, Everything and highly recommend it as your next contemporary YA read. This may not be a fantasy book, but Nicola Yoon’s debut novel is nothing but magical. Pick up a copy when it hits shelves September 1!
*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Penguin!