Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review: Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
August 30th, 2015

This book is also crossposted to Twinja Book Reviews
I'll first start out by saying this is the only novel I've ever read, where I finished it in less than a day. I love to read, but I am the slowest reader on the planet.

It also helps when you have a co-blogger who can dish out books faster than you, who you can later take the credit for(XD), but yes, for a slow reader like myself, I was amazing at how well the story captured me!

With that being said, the book is not without fault. There are things that I loved, and things that rubbed me the wrong way, and then things that would've made me love it more, but since I was approved for it on Netgalley, even with the what I didnt like, I bought it anyway, so it's worth giving a go!

Everything Everything centered a multicultural teen(half Japanese and African American) who dealt with SCIDs, a rare disease that makes her vulnerable to nearly everything. Her world changes when a new family moves next door, and she best friends and eventually falls in love with "The Boy Next Door."

Things I loved:

Maddie, the book's main character. She'd spent her life confined within the walls of her house, and was forced to make the best of it. She rarely had physical visitors(they brought outside germs, ew!)so when she did it was a big deal. She was a funny heroine, who also book blogged! She had a strange narration that often took you away from what she was dealing with, but it worked so well for the book.

I felt so bad for her situation, but only because her mother was overprotective and didn't want her doing much. There are things I didn't connect with about her mother, but I'll get to that later.

I loved Olly. He was very cute, and was a parkour artist/tracer which I friggin' love! While they had great chemistry, there were also some questionable things about him, but from the outside I really liked him. He had a difficult home life, and even though he didn't talk about it much, it was obvious with all the arguing going on in his house for hours every...single...day...

I loved that the book tackled intimacy between teenagers, and I almost cried when they reached for condoms XD As an advocate for safe/protected sex in books I find that sex is beautiful but it also carries a ton of risk. It's not about making people feel dirty or stupid for not protecting themselves, but imagine a teenager reading this, and making the decision to turn down a partner for not wanting to use a condom. Teaching and advocating safe sex young is the best way to go, because, even though we don't like to admit it, teens are having sex younger and younger. I think we should be helping them instead of shaming them, so I really liked that part in the book. Probably my favorite scene!

The narration and graphics were lovely. They were cutesy, but take in mind, they were interpretations of Madeline, the main character. The way she choose to tell her story worked really well with all the cute page breaks, and pictures. There was a child-like quality about Maddie since she wasn't exposed to a ton of people on the outside world.

The main characters, the book's story telling/narration, Maddie being a girl of color, and the book's lovely editing and formatting were what made this book easy to consume in 12 hours, a first for me!

But...

Things I didn't connect with:

The ending. It's really difficult to say this without giving it away, but it was a cheat tactic. It allowed everything to work out in a HEA ending, and it left a bitter after taste in my mouth. Any disability shouldnt be taken lightly, but in this story's case, it really took me out of the beautiful story in front of me.

Most people cant just wish away a disability. It felt like such an insult that with all Maddie had to endure in her lifetime, that I would've loved to see her love for Olly work out, where they both had to  live with her having SCIDs. Taking away this element made me feel as though their love would've only worked if she didn't have a disability, and...I dont like the feeling I had after reading that.

It also brings me to the subject of her mother. There was diversity hidden within the cracks, her nurse Carla being Latinx, and obviously her mother was Asian-American(and a doctor). Her mother had some issues she needed to work on, but apart of me was uncomfortable she was the story's villain. She had a strong say in her daughter's daily activities, and restricted her from so much. The fact that it was practically for nothing? If there'd been more Asian women or people for that matter to counter this, maybe I wouldnt feel some kind of way. But the Asian mom being the villain made me uncomfortable, but I dont know. Maybe that's not a bad thing.

Don't we all deserve to be well created villains as much as heroes? 

Im also not sure how to feel about Maddie making such important decisions for herself like leaving all the way across the country to be with Olly, when her immune system was fragile. She was willing to abandon her mother like her mother hadn't spent her whole life taking care of her. Yes, her mother had issues she needed to work on, but to leave your only family for a boy you've known for 5 months? That seemed a bit too independent for me.

Even though it's marketed as YA, the independent decision-making blurred the lines between YA and NA for me. Maddie is 18 years old, but that doesn't automatically make her a NA character. But the decisions she made for herself made it read that way. All I can say is, love don't pay the bills XD Leaving financial stability with no job experience, no job, no life or people skills, seemed a little off. Her mother is a doctor, so Im sure she has money, but with how she was raised, she had an independence that literally takes years to gain.

I didn't move out my own mother's house until 21, and with some financial struggles ended right back there at the ripe age of 25. Im lucky that the last time I moved out, was for good, but like I said, that independence seemed a little naive.

There was also a character in the end that seemed like he was just added to level the diversity playing field. He was Black and gay, but subjected to one scene, with very few lines, and I wondered why if his character was supposed to be important, why did it take so long for him to be featured.

I am a strong believer in there never being too much diversity in the book. If anything, there wasn't enough. I wonder what Olly would've been like if he'd been Asian, or Latinx, two strong demographics in the state of California, where they lived. The character introduced in the end reminded me of a drawing that felt complete, but at the last minute, you added an element just because.

Im a huge fan of just because! But I would've liked for this character to be bigger if that were the case.

Overall:

This book was the sweetest book I've read this year. Just because I didn't like the ending doesn't mean the book didn't rock!