Review: Everything, Everything

“Everything is a risk. Not doing anything is a risk. It’s up to you,” Nicola Yoon


Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
306 pages
Genre: Young Adult
Published by Alloy Entertainment, 2015
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: I won’t be returning to this one.
Reviewed by Indiana
Spoilers ahead


This is going to sound a bit strange, but this book reminded me a lot of the movie “Tangled,” the one where the witch captures the princess and keeps her locked in a tower so she can use her hair to stay young forever. Great movie. Bad witch.  

Anyway, when Everything Everything came out in 2015, it seemed like I saw it everywhere. Then of course the movie came out in 2017 and I continued to see it everywhere, so I thought I’d finally give it a shot.

Madeline Whittier lives in the bubble of her home. She’s been diagnosed by her mother, who is a doctor, with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency and she’s told she can’t go outside or touch anything that hasn’t been sterilized. The only people the 18-year-old knows are her tutors, who communicate with her via video chat, her nurse, Carla, and her mother.

That is, until Olly and his family move in nextdoor. Though they can’t meet in person at first, Olly writes email on the window and they start talking. Madeline’s life is isolated, but Olly’s got issues of his own, with a drunk and abusive father consistently trying to punch him or hit his mother.

Madeline and Olly talk via email just about every night. Finally, Madeline convinces Carla to let Olly visit, which he has to be sanitized for. Their relationship blossoms, but is almost destroyed when Madeline’s mother finds out later on.

Eventually, as in many classic love stories, Madeline decides that living in her bubble isn’t really living and runs away with Olly for a few days. While she does get sick, it’s doesn’t kill her, like her mother had always said it would. After she is forced back home and apart from Olly, she receives a note from a doctor who had treated her when she was on the trip with Olly.

In a very illegal turn of events, the doctor tells Madeline that she doesn’t have the disease she’s always been told she had; that she doesn’t exhibit any of the signs for it. Madeline eventually confronts her mother about it, who at this point in the book seems a little unhinged.

This is also where the book really started to remind me of “Tangled.” The major difference being that the mother is Madeline’s actual mother and she isn’t exactly evil. She just let fear of losing her daughter, as she’d lost her husband and son long, long ago, drive her to do highly unethical things, like keeping her daughter locked in the house for the first 18 years of her life.

Everything Everything  was a fast read, made more so but the entertaining doodles and illustrations through it which were done by the author’s husband, David. For the most part it was an enjoyable read. However, there were a few scenes that broke my suspension of disbelief. In one scene, Madeline goes outside to try and stop Olly’s father from hurting him. When she doesn’t get sick the following day, one would think that she would question whether or not she was actually sick. Madeline is a smart character who questions other things; why not her supposed disease?

Secondly, the doctor that emailed her? That’s extremely difficult to believe that would happen because of so many laws (like HIPAA for instance). Maybe it’s because both of my parents work in healthcare so I’m more familiar about this stuff then others, but that didn’t work for me.

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