Review: Everything, Everything

by Gurpreet Sihat

Since leaving university, I’ve become one of those people who refuse to choose books to read simply because they have good reviews or a lot of hype surrounding them. Well, I say since leaving university but what I really mean is since I made the mistake of listening to the hype around a certain trilogy and was so incredibly appalled by the writing and the ridiculous story arc the otherwise clever protagonist followed that I almost lost all faith in hype and reviews altogether.

Nowadays I steer clear of listening to other people’s opinions until after I’ve read the book. Instead, I choose books based on three main things:

  1. The Blurb – If the blurb doesn’t hold my interest (and that includes the names of the characters), there’s no chance I’ll be reading it of my own free will.
  2. The Cover – Yes, I know you’re not meant to judge a book by its cover but I simply can’t resist an intriguing cover! It’s technically the reason I started reading Sarah Rayne’s The Silence and look how wonderfully that turned out!
  3. The Formatting – This is a strange one but every once in a while, mainly with young adult standalone novels, I choose books based on what they look like from the inside. Sophie Kinsella’s Finding Audrey, for example, grabbed me by the snippets of screenplay and Night Owls by Jenn Bennett had me at its font and spacing.

That brings me neatly onto Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, a book I picked up because there were funny little hand drawn illustrations, a spiral poem and diary extracts all handwritten scattered throughout. And what a brilliant find it was too; so good, in fact, that I finished the entire thing in one three hour sitting because I just couldn’t put it down!

The story revolves around Madeline, a teenaged girl suffering from bubble baby disease (professionally known as severe combined immunodeficiency or SCID). For seventeen years it’s just been her, her mother and her nurse, Carla, with the odd visit from her architecture professor and the endless books she reads. It’s never been too difficult for Madeline to accept her situation, accept the fact that if she steps a single foot outside the house designed to keep her alive, she could die, but when a handsome boy, Olly, moves in next door, her view of life changes. For the first time, she wants to truly live, not be stuck indoors with books as her only window to the outside world. She must break every rule ever placed on her to have a chance with Olly…

Although clichéd in parts (which young adult romance isn’t?) it’s a simple, beautiful story with a fantastic ending and damn does it make you feel good! And the best bit? Each turn of the page brings you something entirely new – not just another page filled with two or three hundred words, no! Perhaps it’ll be one sentence or diagrammed instructions on how to have the best first kiss. Maybe it’ll be a spiral poem or possibly you’ve already finished the book and you hadn’t realised because you’re just so engrossed! A very clever novel and definitely one I recommend!

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