update september 2017
Lowered to 3 stars because every time I think about this book, I like it less and less. Ableism and insta-love mixed with what is realistically just… not amazing writing. 🙁 I probably won’t pick up any more of Nicola’s books in the future.
ORIGINAL REVIEW BELOW:
“I was happy before I met him. But I’m alive now, and those are not the same thing.”
Reread review time! I originally gave this 5 stars when I read it last year, but upon rereading it, I had to lower it to 4 stars. While I still really enjoyed the relationship that develops between Maddy and Olly, I feel like just six months of reviewing books has really shifted the way I analyze the things that I read, and I had to knock a star off for a few issues that I’ll explain later in the review.
Madeline lives a pretty happy life; as happy as anyone can be when they’ve been trapped inside their house their entire life, that is. Maddy has SCID, an autoimmune disorder that has essentially rendered her allergic to the entire outside world. She spends her days taking her classes from home, skyping with her professors, reading anything she can get her hands on, and spending time with her mother, Dr. Whittier, and her nurse, Carla. Everything goes to hell when Olly moves in next door, though, and she begins to fall in love. As she develops feelings she’s never known before, Madeline starts to wonder: is life worth living if you’re not experiencing everything it has to offer?
WHAT I LIKED ➳➳
First and foremost, this is a YA contemporary romance, so naturally, the most important aspect of the book is the romance… and let me tell you, Maddy and Olly are adorabletogether. Their banter is so fun, the flirting is adorable, and when they finally get to be together in person, it’s just nonstop heartwarming fuzzies and smiles.
I also really enjoy Madeline as a character. Despite her obstacles, she comes across as incredibly mature, as though she’s more or less accepted the hand she’s been dealt. She only begins to question things when she feels like she can’t be separate from Olly, and anyone who’s been in love knows how hard those feelings can be to ignore, so can you blame her?
WHAT I DISLIKED ➳➳
*cracks knuckles* Okay… if you’ve been around the YA book community for a while, you’ve probably heard at least a snippet of the controversy surrounding this book. Without spoiling anything, we’ll just say that SCID is not repped well at all in this book, and there’s a big “twist” that is… well, a bit insensitive, to be frank. I heard about the controversy after my first read of this book, and didn’t really see where it was coming from, to be honest – I’m sorry to say that, even as someone who deals with chronic pain/illness, I wasn’t as empathetic as I should have been. Upon rereading the book, I was just kind of like, “… whoa. I get it now.”
Essentially, Madeline is willing to throw away literally her life to be with Olly for a few days, which in and of itself is not a terrible plot arc – it’s very 90s Disney-esque, I guess – but the fact that she is capable of doing so feels a little less than sympathetic regarding teens who suffer from these real-life disorders and don’t get to make choices like that on a whim.
Then, there’s the infamous “plot twist”… **SPOILER** Maddy isn’t even sick. Her mother’s been faking the entire thing for Madeline’s entire life to keep her home in a safe, little bubble. **END SPOILER** I won’t sit here and go on a rant about it, because frankly, I don’t know how to put how I’m feeling into words, but it just rubbed me wrong enough that I couldn’t, in good conscience, leave this book at a 5-star rating.
FINAL VERDICT ➳➳
At the end of the day, the romance in this book is really cute, and if you’re looking for a sweet teen love story, here you go! I just wouldn’t go into this book expecting anything earth-shaking. If you suffer from chronic pain/illness, I would especially like to offer a word of caution because the ending of this book just might piss you off.
I didn’t get it because so many people trying to explain it, didn’t get it they were just repeating what they were told. I had to go look up able-ism, and still I didn’t see it. However, when I continued reading about able-ism I realized that the idea that someone in order for you to live a full life it is a requirement for you to not be ill is a sick thought process. I do not think that was the intent when Nicola Yoon wrote this book though, but that is what I took from it considering when she assumed she was sick she could do nothing and doing things meant she would die, but when she found out she wasn’t sick…she was free to just do anything!
Yes, very well said! I definitely don’t think she meant for it to come across the way that it did AT ALL. I try never to attribute malice to anything that can be explained by accident, you know? But when I reread this, whether she meant for it to be there or not, I did feel a little bit of ableism coming from it, and it made me sad. 🙁 Hopefully she’ll take the constructive criticism and it won’t happen in any of her other books.
I think I might’ve given this 5 stars?? But it was my first read and I rated it while still coming down from that love story high, haha. I did read into the issues with it, though, and I’m kind of bummed that the author ***SPOILER*** really ducked out of giving an actual portrayal of someone with a disability. I mean, taking away her SCID diagnosis took away that aspect of the diversity and it sucks for anyone going into it thinking that it was going to be an actual representation of some sort of acute illness. Regardless, you know all this. I still think it was a cute story, but also kind of dangerous and problematic.
Oh man, the love story high! LMAO I know EXACTLY what you mean. Sometimes I think I should make a rule where I don’t rate anything until 24 hours after I finish it, just so I can see if the high goes away. But yes, exactly! It was cute, but still kind of a bummer. The more I’ve thought about it, I can’t imagine going into this book as someone who has SCID, not knowing the twist, and then finding out, and… sheesh. You know what I’m saying.
I didn’t mind the love story too much but what a frustrating ending!!!
Yeah, I wanted to slap her but I undersrand it was due to a mental health issue…
I am not sure if I ever plan on reading this book tbh so I read the spoiler and OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL
Aughhh GIRL…it’s frustrating
I really loved Everything, Everything when I first read the book (I think I was enchanted by the illustrations). However, I think I would rate it lower if I was to reread it again, too. Did you see the movie?
-Jordan @ The Heart of a Book Blogger
I do love the illustrations! I’m a total sucker for illustrations in general. I did see the film! I thought it was pretty cute. Did you?
Yeah, this book. I loved it but also SHOULDN’T? Like I want to hold hands with those people who were deeply offended by the plot twist and say “Screw this book!” But also, I just really enjoyed it, and the romance was super cute and I liked the overall sentiment. I definitely don’t agree with the use of the disease as some sort of “edge”, some sort of plot device that can be alleviated to the author’s advantage. It came off as cheap and people who were paying attention will feel like they have been, like, short-changed. Eh. So yeah. My review of this one was also half-half.
Cass @ Words on Paper
Yes, I totally agree with you! I almost felt a little bit guilty for how much I did like it. It’s tough when you enjoy something but you also can acknowledge its problematic aspects. I guess we just have to find the balance.
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