Author: Nicola Yoon
Rating: ★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly. Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.
Huge than you to the publisher for letting me read an advanced copy of this book!
So going into this book I’d heard both sides of the spectrum. It’s The Best Book Of This Year. It’s HORRIBLE. I knew there was a twist coming so I’m not sure if I figured it out on my own, or if I was looking for it… but I’m gonna go with a little bit of both.
Going into this book I had set my expectations really low because I’d had a few good book people say that it was terrible. I wanted to give it a shot (and I got it for review) and I’m pleased to say that I did enjoy it. This book is a VERY quick read. I have an eARC, and feel that a physical copy would have enhanced my reading experience due to the illustrations and sections written in email/chat/transcript.
Oddly enough I read this book directly after reading another Big Summer Book with a crazy format (Illumine) and I know that reading a physical book with a unique format is a lot better than reading an e-version. I found myself not caring enough about the illustrations or charts because I just couldn’t read them. And sometimes they felt a little juvenile. I did give Maddy a pass for some of it though because she’d lead quite a sheltered life.
This is a story about a girl who basically, lives in a bubble. She’s allergic to the outside world and anything could trigger a reaction so she’s confined to her home which is sealed off and the air is filtered in. Her only friend is her mother and a handful of internet people. (Which surprised me because I’m totally healthy and leave my house daily and have a TON of internet friends… I imagine that if I couldn’t leave my house on pain of death that I’d have A LOT more internet friends). We never see Maddy interact with any of these people, which idk, seemed odd. She spends her time reading, doing school work online, and playing games/watching movies with her mother.
Then a new family moves in next door and the two siblings try to befriend Maddy. Obviously they can’t meet, but the boy, Olly, is curious. He watches Maddy (in a non-creepy way) through his window and they communicate through gestures and funny antics. They eventually start to email and chat online and then Maddy convinces her nurse to let Olly inside. And they slowly begin to fall for each other.
This romance worked for me. It was subtle and gave me all the feels. I loved how Olly was curious and Maddy was protective and how they were both cautious by not. And when Maddy realizes that living in her bubble isn’t really living, she decides that she doesn’t care if her life is cut short, she just wants to spend time living, with Olly.
This is where the story started to fall apart for me. They suddenly take off to Hawaii and idk. It just struck me as odd. Like, sure it would sound good on paper, maybe something they’d scheme but not actually follow through with… but they actually do it and idk, I just never felt that either of them really had the guts to do it. And of course Maddy gets sick and then the inevitable heartbreak happens.
And then the twist. Which I had started to suspect. And I am very torn on that. The revel was emotional and sad and heartbreaking but at the same time I just wondered how it had kept on for so long.
And the mother. I thought that she was sweet and caring and really dedicated herself to Maddy. I was surprised that she never seemed to blame herself for her daughter’s suffering and then later on I wanted to hate her for the way she treated Maddy, but at the same time I wanted to understand and I guess if we could have seen a deeper side of the mother, a more broken side, a more screwed up side, maybe I could have taken things a little bit better and loved it a little bit more.
The writing in this is very quiet. Some people will enjoy the voice and the style, others will hate it. It’s not a style that I seek out, but when I do stumble upon it I find that it’s refreshing.
Overall I think I liked this more than I would have due to my low expectations and if I’d gone into it thinking it was going to be The Best I would have been disappointed.