Madeline lives a fairly contained life. She’s home schooled, rarely ventures beyond the the walls of her house and has little contact with the outside world beyond her mother and her nurse, Carla.
Madeline has a very rare condition that makes her extremely susceptible to any kind of germ. Her immune system can’t fight them and so Madeline has to live inside her sterile, clean home, experiencing the outside world only by looking out the window and the books she reads (all brand new and properly sterilized, of course!)
She’s perfectly content in her world until one day a new boy moves in next door and Madeline has become intrigued by him and his family. Suddenly, her world seems a bit smaller and Madeline is willing to do and risk whatever it takes to get to know this boy and possibly fall in love with him.
Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything has received a lot of praise since its publication — and it deserves much of it. However, it’s not quite the be-all, end-all book that certain fans or the marketing materials would have you believe. For one thing, there’s the issue of insta-love that crops up far too often in novels targeted toward young adult readers. Madeline’s crush on her neighbor morphs far too quickly into love — even factoring in that she rarely has much contact with the outside world. Her increasing desperation to spend time with the boy next door and getting to know him does ring true at certain points, but other developments don’t quite sustain the feeling.
There’s also the question of the big revelation in the novel’s closing chapters. It’s one that is fairly well telegraphed by the mid-point of the story, thus ceasing to really be a surprise. Instead the revelation when it finally occurs only confirms what we thought was happening all the time.
Those two factors put this one into the category of a good book rather than a great one.
But it shouldn’t take away from the sheer hook of the novel’s opening chapters nor that compelling first-person narration we experience with Madeline.