Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Book Review: Everything Everything

 This book is arguably one of the most hyped up Young Adult fiction pieces for a long time; in fact many people were even dubbing it as the next The Fault In Our Stars. I won't deny the comparison, but I don't think that either of these books fit into a mold. I must admit that my main reason for reading this novel was curiousity; however I did actually find myself surprised by enjoying it. The writing style of short, sharp chapters was a great way to keep the interest level up and I found it very easy to read. It was an interesting touch that the main character Maddy is fairly unusual in the sense that she's mixed Japanese and African American alongside her life threatening disease known as SCID. The one thing that is truly lovely about Maddy is that she appreciates all of the little things in life, whether that is the books that she reads, the films that she watches or the time she spends with her mother and her nurse, all of which are fairly often. As a reader, you begin to feel sorry for her as you realise that her life must be extremely repetitive as well as limiting.

It's hardly surprising that Maddy spends the majority of her life dreaming about the outside world, even Carla, her nurse admits that she is amazed that Maddy isn't depressed, or doesn't struggle with her extreme life of isolation. Fairly early on in the novel we witness through Maddy, the arrival of her new neighbours and the boy, Olly quickly captures her attentions. They have a cute friendship, communicating through their bedroom windows. It actually due to the appearance of Olly and his family that we see a radical change in Maddy. As their relationship develops it slowly becomes apparent that there is something wrong with Maddy's diagnosis, which I had thought about fairly early on as she never seemed to particularly sick, but as Carla allows Olly to visit and they become quite intimate with one another in terms of kissing and Maddy is surprisingly fine. Nicola Yoon has created a very interesting and also addictive read; once you get into the story you can't wait to finish it. I actually finished it in one sitting as it's a nice easy read with a lot of themes running through it, such as relationships, isolation, adolescence, domestic violence and alcoholism.

As you can probably tell, this novel is told mostly through Maddy and in stereotypical teenager fashion, she’s fairly self centred so much of the information is all about herself or Olly. Eventually she runs away to Hawaii with Olly and they do many of things that her mother would hate, including having sex. Maddy becomes ill and when she receives treatment she begins doubting her whole life. Her mother is a doctor and it was her mother that diagnosed her illness; which is never a good thing. As a reader, it’s hardly unsurprising that Maddy is not ill as originally thought, her mother wanted to keep her to herself after her father and brother died in a freak accident and Maddy doesn’t have the happiest of reactions when she discovers the truth. Much of the critical points surrounding this novel have been the unbelievability of her condition, although it can also be argued that this is the reason for the majority of the plot; at the end of the day, Maddy’s life is a lie and has been for as long as she can remember, which also explains why she’s so emotionally underdeveloped and therefore immature in so many ways other than in academic intelligence due to her lack of socialising with anyone outside of the bubble that is her house.

Overall, this novel is both enjoyable and addictive; it’s an easy read although it does contain some sensitive content, for example when Maddy describes the domestic violence that is tearing apart Olly’s family, how it affects their family in multiple ways. His sister is a chain smoker, Olly is constantly angry and his mother lives in fear of her alcoholic and abusive husband. I would argue that Maddy’s mother is also abusive as what she does to Maddy is wrong, regardless of how much she uses the excuse that it was for Maddy’s own good. I liked the relationship that developed between Olly and Maddy, but at the same I wish that Maddy admitted that she made a lot of her decisions throughout the novel due to her strong feelings for Olly. Realistically, if he had never moved in next door and pursued her, it was unlikely that she would ever leave her careful bubble that was her life. The main issue that I had with her decisions, wasn’t her want for freedom as that is a basic right after being kept inside under false pretences for years; it was the fact that she only dreamt of the outside world to feel love and that wasn’t necessarily the right thing, I would have loved to see Maddy embrace herself as an individual more, not only a part of a couple. However, I loved the writing style of this book and I felt that the characters were really well orchestrated throughout and the ending wasn’t a disappointment; in fact, I loved the ending as it didn’t tie up any loose ends, it left them open and I love it when a book does that. This novel is a definite recommend as it was simply a lovely piece of writing.

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