Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s been a while since I read Everything Everything, so this mightn’t be the most in depth review…

I first heard about this book last year at YALC (which is coming around again very soon…) and just wasn’t interested. I heard really good things but continuously didn’t pick it up, and then the #ZoellaBookClub came to town. For those of you who don’t know, the Zoella Book Club is a promotion in the UK where Zoella (a famous Youtuber) fronts the campaign and chose 8 books to promote (and they’re also on offer in store). They also have new cover designs (mostly colour changes to the original covers) and that’s partly why I bought some.

So Everything Everything got a minor cover change – from blue to pink – but it’s super gorgeous and looks fab on my shelf. Now onto the actual book…

Everything Everything is the story of Madeline, a half-Japanese half-Black girl who is allergic to the world. She can only socialise with her Mum and her nurse, Carla, and she can never ever go outside. A boy moves next door – Olly – and suddenly Madeline wants to go outside. They strike up a sweet friendship online and they fall in love.

I really enjoyed this book, and I’ll definitely pick up more of Nicola Yoon’s work, but I found the topic a little problematic. In short, this book let me down on a few key issues – if you haven’t read the book and plan on reading it, these may be a little spoilery.

Madeline has a severe immune reaction to the outside world, but she doesn’t react to food in the book. As someone with food allergies, I found this a little disappointing – many of the most common allergies are to food, and I would have liked to see a character who struggles with food in this way. I really don’t want to give too much away about the end of the book, but I felt let down in this respect, especially as many people dismiss food allergies and think you’re making it all up for attention (not true!).

The second issue I have is essentially the ending – it undermined the entire rest of the story and was way too happily-ever-after. Disabilities don’t magically disappear or get better, and when disability is so poorly represented, these books are really damaging.

Because Madeline is such a diverse character with severe immune issues, I was genuinely surprised that this didn’t come into play – mixed race people find it much more difficult to find donor matches, and this would have been a great way to highlight their plight when faced with cancer, for example.

Overall, an enjoyable read with a problematic ending that could have been so much more interesting.

View all my reviews


On *THAT* Telegraph Article – Portrayal of SEX in YA

This morning (afternoon?), Twitter has been ablaze with talk of an article that was published in the Telegraph attacking the Zoella Book Club choices because of their portrayal of sex.

If you haven’t given it a read, you can find it here.


The gist of the article is that these books are BAD for teenage girls because of the way they portray sex.

The article labels all YA literature as ‘fluffy, joyful escapism’ when, in reality, a lot of the books on the list deal with mental health issues, and are a little more serious and well researched than a smutty romance novel. The idea that YA readers are reading absolute fluff is an outdated one – the genre is incredibly diverse and pioneering, and many recent books have been a little harrowing. While ‘sick lit’ has been demonised in the press, the explosion of books surrounding mental health issues and including LGBT characters has simply, to my knowledge, not been echoed in the wider fiction market.

A lot of the books I’ve recently read in YA are not fluffy romances – they’re tackling difficult issues, ones that simply aren’t discussed in mainstream education.

That’s not to say that the author of this article is wrong. The portrayal of virginity and slut-shaming in YA still has far to go, but the problem doesn’t lie with any one individual book. Just like the ‘dark romance’ days of YA normalised the idea that a dark, mysterious bad boy  is probably a secret sweetheart who will win your father’s affection and then also turn you into a vampire, portrayal of virginity as a whole as a ‘gift’ and something you can ‘lose’ to someone else – the idea that your sexual identity is something someone else can alter and take away from you – is still problematic.


Again, it isn’t the fault of just one book, but when the media, your culture, even your religion is telling you that virginity is something you shouldn’t consider losing lightly, and that you should only give to someone special (despite the same sources telling boys the opposite), it’s no wonder many girls make a huge deal out of it. That isn’t YA’s fault (and it isn’t necessarily a problem), but YA could do more to change the rhetoric. It’s an uphill battle against pretty much all other forms of media, but if YA is anything, it is progressive.

We unfortunately live in a society which teaches girls that sex should be painful for them, that they won’t enjoy it, and the only thing that matter is that the man ejaculates. That isn’t the fault of YA, it’s a problem with society itself.

On the other hand, we often see dream-like portrayals of sex in contemporary romance (fantasy romance like ACOMAF gets a free pass in my book) where first-time sex is a brilliant unity of souls culminating in an explosive (but definitely not sticky!) simultaneous orgasm. This, again, is problematic, but in a different way.


(I’d also like to say that virginity is an interesting concept when it comes to non-heterosexual couples, which are often ignored in the general media, but I do feel YA is getting there with LGBT representation. It isn’t perfect, and I would LOVE to see virginity dealt with in a book about LGBT characters – if you know any books that do deal with this, let me know!)


Back to the article, I agree with Emma Oulton’s comments that teenage girls are being failed a proper sex education (in fact, I feel like PSHE itself is completely lacking – we need better mental health education, better political education and better health education in general – especially women’s health, periods and the like) and Young Adult literature is an art form that can help tackle this chronic miseducation. The Zoella Book Club choices are a little narrow (in that they tend to focus on mental health issues, and there is no inclusion of LGBT characters, for example), but I do honestly feel that future book clubs could diversify, and there would have been outrage against these books if they dealt with some of the more controversial topics that often feature in YA (for example, Louise O’Neill’s brilliant Asking For It).


At the end of the day, Zoella  has a brilliant opportunity to bring books to the masses of teenage girls that focus on some hard-hitting issues. The books she has chosen aren’t ‘fluffy’, and it’s improper to attack the authors of these books for one sentence in their work – but on the other hand, we as a genre need to be addressing the issue that is the portrayal of virginity ( as well as many other important portrayals), and we have a brilliant opportunity to fight back against the lack of education on these topics.

What are your thoughts on the article? Have you read any of the Zoella Book Club choices? Tweet me at @annalisebooks or comment below!

Annalise x