'Everything Everything' by Nicola Yoon

Thursday 2 November 2017

“Just because you can’t experience everything doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experience anything.” 

‘Everything Everything’ was given to me as a birthday present from a dear friend. I had assumed that it was another young adult novel centred around an illness, accident or misfortune so I had never picked it up before but there was a little more to the novel than I was expecting. 

Madeline Whittier has SCID, severe combined immunodeficiency which basically means she is allergic to the world.  Because of this Madeline lives a quiet, calm life centred around learning and losing herself in books until a new family moves in next door. The new neighbour Olly becomes her new focus as she watches the family unfold. 

When the pair finally connect Madeline becomes desperate to see the world through Olly. Yoon replicates digital relations, using excessive text messages and instant messenger as the pair fall for each other quickly, finding and supporting each other through their unfortunate circumstances. This unconventional narrative makes their relationship develop quicker and with this they push the limits of Madeline’s illness close to death. 

Everything Everything Nicola Yoon

Outside of the plot I was intrigued by Madeline, it is easy to mistake her for someone a lot younger due to her lack of life experience. Yet when interacting with Olly she plays it cool, so what initially comes across as maturity is a reminder that Madeline is much older than she is treated by her mother and her nurse. Throughout ‘Everything Everything’ there were hints like this, of things that were not quite right. Where did she learn how to behave like that. Is it from books and films? The internet?  

It niggled at the back of my mind that Madeline already had a connection to the outside world via the internet. There are numerous references to Madeline’s popular tumblr and I couldn’t grasp that in her isolated world that she wouldn’t have reached out before Olly. A coming of age whirl wind romance is clearly a force worth risking your life for. 

This driving force made me feel like I was waiting for recovery or death but what Yoon delivered was a fantastic twist and refreshing change compared to novels on a similar par. Although I was disappointed that the twist is barely explored and almost washed over. Have you read ‘Everything, Everything’? What did you think of this or hints of internet popularity but personal isolation? 

Also I haven’t watched the film yet, is it worth it? 

Not read it, grab a copy here: Everything, Everything

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