Despite My age, I’m not one to shy away from Young Adult Fiction, if I think that a good story is on offer – which in this case, I certainly did.
Everything, Everything is the story of Madeline Whittier – a teenager with the incredibly unfortunate affliction of being allergic to the World. Madeline has to be kept in a protective bubble to protect her from the outside atmosphere and has never stepped foot outside in seventeen years. But, she does have access to the internet, and this is how she meets Olly, the boy who has just moved in next door. As a relationship develops between the two, Madeline wants more from life than the white walls that have always protected her.
Though essentially a love story, Everything, Everything avoids (thankfully) being an overly-soppy romance. There are a few clichés, but the narrative is somewhat trite while preserving accuracy: Madeline and Olly’s meetings ring true – they talk and act like teenagers. This prevents the novel from becoming over-the-top and fantastical.
Engaging and engrossing, Yoon has injected this love story with enough suspense to make you want to know where it is going at the end of every chapter. I’m not keen on romance, so the fact that this was a page-turner caught me off guard, but I just continuously needed to know: what next? An effortless read, as the prospect of sitting down to read ‘just a few’ chapters is always something to look forward to.
Also worth a mention is the format of the book itself. I read the Kindle version, which still included Madeline’s illustrations. Not that it is really needed for this purpose, but it breaks up the narrative nicely. More so, it engages you on another level – you can see (and feel) how much of a dreamer Madeline has become with only her imagination at her dispense, a reminder of her innocence at youth.
Though I have defined Everything, Everything as a love story, there is a much bigger picture of the beautiful breaking of innocence. Though clearly very smart academically, Madeline is forced to confront the most basic of realities in the real world, such as sitting in a moving car. It’s an exploration of love and the world through eyes that have never seen either.
The one major disappointment for me was the ending. Without giving too much away, there is a twist which, on reflection, was actually quite dark. But the time of reading, it felt a little too much like everything was tied up neatly with a bow. I’ve since thought that perhaps this was the most suitable ending but carried out in a more anti-climactic manner than I was yearning for. This didn’t massively affect my overall enjoyment of the novel, but a little more panache for the finale could have made this truly incredible.