**Spoilers** Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
September 1, 2015 – Delacorte Books for Young People
Source: Personal Collection
There is so much that I want to say, and to explain what I am thinking this review will contain spoilers. But first off, I want to say that I think that this book is stupid. Reviewers often try to convey this very basic thought by providing constructive criticism. But, let’s be honest. This book has been out for 2 years, and while they went back and corrected a typo (Nurse sticky note I am looking at you), they are not going to rewrite this book based on anything that I say. Because it’s just my opinion and obviously since it’s got a movie deal behind it an additional paperback release with a movie cover, and it’s a bestseller, my opinion is in the minority. Besides this is not a book I received for review, I purchased this book with my own money. And before anyone comments that it’s not okay to bash an author, let me make this clear I think that Yoon is a very good writer, she has a beautiful way with words. I believe that her writing skills has no place in this book, because they don’t match. But writers write the books that are in them, so I can’t really fault her for it.
Now on to my review. I picked this book up not because I had been meaning to, but I had been hearing more and more about this book and the movie was coming out. I wanted to see the movie, but it’s my habit to read the book first. And well, if I had not paid for this book I would not have finished it. But in a way I am glad that I did finish it. In case you don’t know what this book is about let me tell you. Madeline, who is conveniently turning 18, has Severe Combined Immunodeficiency also known as SCID. This means that she is allergic to everything. She is completely happy with her life, has reached a mature level of acceptance of her fate. And here is the first thing. If she was unhappy with her fate now would have been the time to see it. We are seeing the world through Maddy’s eyes, we are enlightened to her thoughts and feelings. And she has no signs of being unhappy. Until Olly moves next door. They start talking via messages written on the window, email and then finally IM.
Second thing, Carla the nurse breaks all of the rules and possibly more by letting Olly in to visit with Maddy, as long as he stays as far away as possible. As a nurse, are you really going to risk the health and possibly life of you patient over teenage hormones? AND are you really going to trust these same hormone crazed teenagers to stay far apart and not touch each other? You trust them so much that they are allowed in a room by themselves with a closed door? And you, as a nurse who is already breaking the rules, don’t bother to check to make sure that they comply? And as a nurse, you encourage your patient to lie to her mother? Oh and the mom! The mom is your doctor and NO ONE questions this? I don’t believe you.
Then, and this is really the part where the story unraveled for me, at the first sign that Olly is being hurt Maddy runs outside to make sure he’s ok. Let me put in this perspective. Maddy, who has been told all of her life that if she was going to outside she could die because she is allergic to everything, runs outside to check on a boy that her mom knows nothing about. She doesn’t think that she may make herself sick. She doesn’t think that she may get her nurse, her friend in trouble. She doesn’t think that the secret that she’s worked really hard to keep from her mom has just been revealed. None of this goes through her mind. She just reacts. Again, I don’t believe you.
Because of this taste of freedom and the fact that she knows that she loves Olly, Maddy runs away and buys two plane tickets to Hawaii. Yep you heard me – Hawaii. I DON’T BELIEVE YOU!!!!!!!!
While in Hawaii, Maddy decides that she wants to experience everything, especially since she might die. So, with the first boy she’s gotten to know and has fallen in love with she sleeps with him. She has amazing, true love romantic first time sex. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!!!!!!!!!!
The whole time she is in Hawaii, she is feeling fine. She has not had an allergic reaction. But no one, not Olly, not Carla, and not Maddy. No one stops to think that maybe she’s not sick. Even before she makes it to the airport to get to Hawaii, someone should have had this thought.
Then conveniently at the end of their stay, when her mom is due to arrive to take Maddy back home, she gets sick. She dies, well her heart stops.
Moving on to my next point. We will ignore the fact that she decides that she loves Olly so much that it hurts and there’s no way to go back to the way it was before so she cuts him off and out of her life. Yeah, we will ignore that because it’s stupid.
The doctor that treated Maddy in Hawaii emails her. How did she get Maddy’s email address? Why didn’t she email the mom? Tells her that she is not sick, that does not have and has never had SCID. Also tells her that doctors should not treat family. This email, coupled with Carla’s comment that her mom has never gotten over her dad and brother’s death, alerts Maddy that something is not right. Finally!!!
The book quickly wraps up after this discovery. And in short, Maddy leaves to find Olly in New York, and even though she has ignored him since they have returned from Hawaii, they get a happily ever after. A happily ever after that is not earned or deserved.
You could very well accept this story as a sweet little romance, and settle for the ooey gooey ending. You could look at this as a glimpse into the world of someone with Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP) for this is what Maddy’s mother suffers from, though it is not named in the book. You go through the trouble of naming and explaining SCID but you can’t name or explain the cause/reason for the whole book? Lazy.
But I am not choosing to settle for any of this. I have read/ seen shows where the SCID disease is used as a plot point. Not only is it done respectfully, it is done believably. I have even seen shows/movies where MSBP is used as a plot point, and it blew my mind.
Everything Everything had potential to be a truly romantic story, or to go behind the curtains of a seldom discussed but all too common mental health issue. Instead, this book skirts around all of its potential and lands in a mire of yuck that treats the reader as an idiot by not posing any truly believable possibilities and fails to make the most of the author’s skills. Someone, somewhere along the line between critiquing, acquiring and publishing should have found these flaws and at least attempted to fix them. Maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t. Maybe, maybe not.
Would I recommend this book? I think that it is stupid, and layered with flaws and failure. If fixed or adjusted it does have the potential to be a decent YA Contemporary Romance. But as it is, I couldn’t recommend this book. And while I know that this is a piece of fiction, and authors creates the situations for magic-whether dark or light- can happen. Since it is contemporary, my biggest complaint is that there is no way for this book to be believable. I wish that I had liked this book. I wasn’t even going to write this review, but it’s not just that I didn’t like this book. It’s that I didn’t like it so spectacularly.