EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING: What We All Long For
Author: Nicola Yoon
Published: September 1st, 2015
Length: 307 Pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780553496642
Trade Paperback ISBN: 9780385683678
There is a full medical test and physical. There is a decontamination shower. There is an airlock. Once you’ve passed all of these tests you can stand across the room from Madeline Whittier and talk with her for half an hour. Of course, nobody bothers to do this. Madeline Whittier has a rare immune disorder that means she is allergic to the world. She has never left her house where she knows only her caretaker Carla and her mother. She is content with her Skype classes and her books. Until Olly moves next door and she begins to remember that there is an outside world that she desperately wants to know, even if it means she dies trying.
Everything, Everything is a young adult fiction in the vein of The Fault in Our Stars or All the Bright Places, where powerful and all-consuming love pushes teenagers to partake in shockingly risky displays of self-discovery. Thankfully, this novel has numerous well-crafted one-liners to remind and convince you of the significance of Madeline’s particular struggles. Even if the narrative is predictable and commonplace for most YA coming-of-age romance, it is buoyed by Madeline’s surprisingly relatable journey: “For the first time in a long time, I want more than I have” (80).
In a clever design move, Everything, Everything mixes Madeline’s first-person narration with graphs, charts, texts, and drawings that open up a whole different means of entering into her world and its limitations. From medical records to instant messages with Olly, Everything, Everything finds plenty of unique ways to tell its story. However, some of the chapters are almost patronizingly short. I felt like I flew through sections of this book simply because a page was only a chapter title and a couple of sentences. Some of these incredibly short chapters aren’t so bad, such as Madeline’s one sentence spoilers for classic novels she’s read, but most are simply short for the sake of being short.
Everything, Everything never reaches the emotional heights of the novels I have compared it to. There is no moment that will break your heart or force tears from your eyes as in The Fault in Our Stars or All the Bright Places. This is not to say that it doesn’t have its moments of surprise or increased tension, but that expectations should be tempered if what you’re looking for is a more emotionally intense reading experience. Despite its name, the novel does not contain everything or everything. Nevertheless, it is a sweet, almost poetic read that offers a cozy narrative with some very pleasant and insightfully written moments.