ARC Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

gallery-1473414254-florabankscoverreveal123The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Release Date: 12 January 2017 by Penguin Random House UK Children’s

Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Young Adult

Series: None (Standalone)

Rating: â™„ ♄ ♄ ♄

Goodreads | Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not in any way influence my views on the book.

Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks has one of the most interesting premises I’ve come across and that blurb instantly hooked me so I was delighted when I managed to get my hands on an ARC copy.

First things first, this was a totally unique book in terms of premise, plot and protagonist. I have never read anything where the main character suffers from “anterograde amnesia” and The One Memory of Flora Banks really gave an insight into what it’s like to live with a chronic illness like that. Especially at the beginning of the book, we follow Flora as her memory “resets” several times in a day and it is so disconcerting to see her retracing the same steps over and over again. It really brought home how difficult simple things must be for Flora.

How can I have forgotten that I have amnesia? How, though, could I possibly remember?

And it is precisely that which makes the plot of the novel so much more compelling. Although I know the premise of a kiss/boy spurring Flora on to undertake a cross-continent journey has understandably rankled some readers, I thought it was less the kiss and more the profoundness of her recalling something. I’d like to think if it was any other memory, she’d react in the same way purely because of how rare it is for her to remember anything. It was heart breaking to see Flora deal with having a memory and her desperation in wanting to believe it an indicator that she is healing.

I check my hand. FLORA, it says, be brave.

I loved reading about Flora’s coping mechanisms. I could vividly imagine her with her arms scribbled on and her house with things to trigger her memory of who she is. Flora’s voice is so captivating, her thoughts, fears, and dreams really jump off the page. I found it inspiring how candid Flora is about her memory loss and how she’s both naive and brave at the same time – she doesn’t let her chronic illness and constant reminders that she shouldn’t try to function alone stop her from going after Drake and the truth. 

This is how my journey will begin. One thing at a time.

The story itself kept me intrigued, wanting to know why she’d remembered the kiss and what would happen when she found Drake. The setting of Svalbard was brilliant – Barr really excelled at using the desolate landscape to draw comparisons with Flora’s state of mind. The other characters were intriguing in how they dealt with Flora’s amnesia, especially how they must adapt to her forgetfulness. For 90% of the book though we are “alone” with Flora seeing things through her eyes so you’re always wondering how much of a reliable narrator she is.

He does not know me, or he would never ask what I did yesterday. People tell me what I did yesterday: they do not ask.

For me, the book picked up the pace in the last quarter of the book and I was riveted by the last few chapters! However, it felt like it ended rather abruptly – I actually would’ve liked to see more development and the aftermath of what happens in those last few chapters. Without giving away spoilers, I’m also a little disappointed at how some things were explained away rather easily when they seemed to me to be pivotal parts of the narrative and plot.

Despite these few niggles though, The One Memory of Flora Banks is great if you’re after a good slow-burn thriller with a compelling narrator and story or if you’re interested in a good YA exploration of living with a chronic illness. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything and Eileen Cook’s With Malice. This book was Barr’s first foray into YA but I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for her other offerings. The One Memory of Flora Banks is out next week on Thursday 12 January!

Are you looking forward to The One Memory of Flora Banks? Are you a big fan of mystery/thrillers? Any recs for great YA similar to TOMoFB? Drop me your thoughts in the comments below!

Bookish Review: Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

Published: August 2015 by Simon & Schuster

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Rating: ♄ ♄ ♄

Goodreads | Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads: Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?

Review: I read Night Owls (or The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, as it’s known in the US) for my book club but actually think it would’ve been a title I’d have picked up of my own volition. The blurb sounded really promising and as I’ve been knee-deep in fantasy these past few weeks some contemporary YA romance was looking very appealing!

Night Owls was a distinctly average book for me – a mix of good and not-so-great things. One thing that hooked me was the artist vibe which I found really interesting – I’m not in any way creative at all, and so I find myself in awe of anyone with even a hint of creative talent. I liked how diverse Jack and Bex’s artistic interests were. I had no idea cadaver drawing was even a thing and I liked that despite how male-dominated that particular field is, Bex was the one interested in it and actually it pushed her to get her talent recognised. 

Jack’s graffiti was also interesting because it wasn’t your usual pre-pubescent gang tagging nor was it subversive political & social commentary art a la Banksy. It felt more personal and I liked how he chose his words and his canvases and what we learn about his motives for doing something so risky as we go along. 

Some other things that really stuck out to me were the portrayal of Bex’s family unit. I liked how close Bex, her mother, and her brother were and how realistic the single parent family setup was. Bennett does not shy away from reality and the difficulties including how both Bex and her brother had to step up and help out for them to get by. The family drama Bex experiences was also interesting to see play out especially the motives behind each character’s actions and how this impacts on the others. 

Night Owls was also surprisingly sex-positive. What really struck me was how candid Bex is about her disappointing sexual experiences so far and never feels nor is made to feel ashamed of her experience. The conversations around sex between different characters were healthy and I liked how Bennett does not use LGBT representation as a plot device.

One of the downsides for me was that many of the other characters just did not feel fleshed out enough. Even Jack who is the love interest fell a little flat for me because we were seeing it all from Bex’s swooning perspective. There was a lot of physical descriptions and I just couldn’t see the ‘person’ beyond the manic pixie dream boy aesthetic he had going on. The issues that were framed as his ‘flaws’ felt a bit of a sham to me because it wasn’t directly to do with him/his personality and felt a bit of an inconvenient cop-out that kept Jack pretty damn perfect. 

Also, the drama wasn’t the most difficult to guess or follow but it was frustrating that Bex seemed a little too slow at joining the dots, enough that when the reveals came and she was blindsided, the reaction was more facepalm and cringeworthy than anything else. The drama and obstacles to Bex and Jack skipping off into the sunset also didn’t feel very problematic to me and seemed rather easily resolved with a nice neat bow at the end.

Overall, Night Owls was a nice quick read, which didn’t stretch out the drama unnecessarily, it was easy to get behind the romance between Jack and Bex and cheer them on. But ultimately it’s not the most memorable YA contemporary romance I’ve read and didn’t offer anything new or particularly exciting for me to remember it long after I’ve read it.

Have you read Night Owls? What did you think? What are your thoughts on differently named titles in different countries/regions? Let me know your thoughts!!

Theatre Review: In the Heights by Lin-Manuel Miranda

In the Heights by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Starring: a brilliantly diverse cast

Theatre: King’s Cross Theatre, London

Dates: Current; extended to January 2017

Rating: ♄ ♄ ♄ ♄ ♄

My only coherent thought after I’d watched In the Heights was “If ITH was this good, then oh my god are we in for a treat with Hamilton!” Buuut let’s rewind back to the beginning…

I’d been meaning to go and see In the Heights since it transferred to the West End in October 2015 so I jumped at the chance when I saw an opportunity to get some awesome seats at a ridiculously discounted price. Also, for all the hype Hamilton has rightly been getting, I actually knew very little about In the Heights before I went to see it beyond the perfunctory “It’s a Lin-Manuel Miranda production” (which let’s be honest is enough for most of us!) I didn’t even know that it had been nominated for 13 Tony Awards and won four – including Best Musical!

A quick summary of the story: Into the Heights: At the crack of dawn on the hottest day of summer, Usnavi opens up his tiny bodega in his neighbourhood of Washington Heights – one bustling neighbourhood where everyone knows everybody, and the breeze carries the sweet sounds of three generations of music.. Usnavi dreams of a return to his native Dominican Republic. His childhood friend, Nina, has just come from her first year at Stanford with some surprising news for her parents, and, priced out of the ‘hood’, salon owner Daniela is packing up her sass and taking it to the Bronx. But when Usnavi discovers he has sold a winning lottery ticket worth $96,000, everyone on the block gets a dose of what it means to be home.

Into the Heights deals with issues such as gentrification, family, immigrant realities, and love. But although that may sound heavy, Lin-Manuel explores it in a really poignant way that focuses on the positives. I could really relate to all of the characters on some level and I think that’ll be the case for most people. LMM is so adept at telling stories that although on the face of it his productions might seem targeted at one specific audience (Hamilton – history nerds, older gen; ITH – trendy, hipster young ‘uns) actually once you’re immersed you realise they’re cross-generational, cross-racial etc. etc. and I think that’s why his productions and songs resonate so much with so many.

ITH is a multi-character and plotline story. I honestly cannot choose a favourite character because they’re all so brilliant in their own way: Usnavi, the beleaguered shop owner deep in unrequited love; Sonny, the smooth-talking cheeky chappie, Abuela Claudia, with her simple pleasures; Nina, trying to reconcile her background with her future; Benny, who’s just trying to get by in the world and get the girl; Vanessa, the girl who seems to have all the attention but is having trouble branching out on her own, the Rosario’s, scraping by to make their daughter Nina’s future easier that they’ve had it; Daniela, the sassy salon-owner and victim of gentrification. Hell even the Piragua Guy (steet food seller) had a story and his own solo!

It sounds rather chaotic but the characters all had distinct personalities, stories and even singing styles and it was easy to follow. I loved how colourful each character was, that they all got their own solos and had backstories. But most of all it was amazing to go and see a theatre show which had the most diverse cast ever – every single actor *was* their character and it just made the whole experience so much more expressive and immersive. Their stories are told very well and it was all interwoven without being messy – it really shows how our experiences are often bigger than us and how “family” and “home” can mean so many things. I adored each and every plotline and loved how it all came together at the end.

Obviously, I can’t review a LMM production without mentioning the songs – I can confirm they were brilliant, as expected. The lyrics were just phenomenal, I am seriously in awe of Mr Miranda because honestly it’s difficult enough to rhyme words but to make weave words together into a much bigger and meaningful story is just ~wow~. There was a good balance of uplifting and upbeat ensemble songs as well as the more serious ballads and the range of styles, from freestyle rapping to duets, were fantastic. The choreography was equally diverse with everything from salsa to swing. I really recommend the In the Heights soundtrack. And on that note, the Hamilton mixtape is now available to pre-order with two songs already released. 🙂

If you’re desperately waiting for Hamilton, I really recommend going to watch In the Heights to whet your appetite until November 2017. It’s a classic Lin-Manuel Miranda production with amazing songs, diverse actors all wrapped up in a great story that’s guaranteed to leave you feeling fuzzy and warm! The production has been extended three times already due to phenomenal demand but is due to end on 7 January so be quick! Or maybe you’ve seen In the Heights already or even Hamilton (colour me green with envy)? Tell me what you thought in the comments below!

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Bookish Event: Our Chemical Hearts Tour

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This time last week I was at Queen’s Park Books for Krystal Sutherland’s Our Chemical Hearts tour courtesy of a book club friend at QPB! OCH is Krystal’s debut novel and it sounds fabulous…

A quick summary of Our Chemical Hearts from Goodreads: Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love that he’s been hoping for just hasn’t been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything’s about to change.

Grace isn’t who Henry pictures as his dream girl – she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys’ clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It’s obvious there’s something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn’t your average story of boy meets girl…

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Katie Webber chaired the event asking some brilliant questions like the inspiration behind Our Chemical Hearts. Interestingly enough, this led to them talking about the science behind love and heartbreak and how apparently it is scientifically proven that a break up affects the brain the same way as a root canal – now no one can accuse you of being melodramatic when dealing with heartbreak *smug face*

Krystal had a Cinderella-esque journey with Our Chemical Hearts,  getting an agent 12 hours after submitting her manuscript and found out her book had a publisher when she had just started her first shift at The Body Shop. She got a phone call telling her the good news and spent the rest of the day selling bath bombs and rubbing moisturiser on strangers’ hands (anti-climax much?!) And this was all without any prior experience or contacts within the publishing industry so it is possible!

She and Katie are good friends which made the event feel more like we were just eavesdropping on a brilliant conversation – and it was writing that brought them together. They decided to become writing sprint partners – something they highly recommend to budding writers because it helps you to get used to receiving critique early on. Another tip is to FINISH WHAT YOU’RE WORKING ON much as you might want to cheat on it with a ‘slutty’ new idea (brilliant analogy!). 

Krystal finished off by sharing some awesome news: Our Chemical Hearts has been optioned for a movie and is scheduled to begin filming next year!! Her next project is also in the works, called A Semi-definitive List of Fifty Worst Fears (think that’s accurate – Krystal did admit the title is incredibly long!) And on that note, Katie’s debut, Wing Jones, already receiving rave reviews, is out in January 2017 so also keep an eye out for that!

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Hot Key Books gave away some great goodie bags with a cover themed shade of Barry M nail polish and a handmade bracelet from Hodge Podge. I also got a signed copy of the book – itching to start reading it soon! Have you read Our Chemical Hearts? What did you think of it? I’d love to know what you thought so drop me a comment below. 🙂

Bookish Review: The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

9781848454576The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Published: June 2016 by Harlequin Teen

Genre: Contemporary, Realistic, Romance, YA

Rating: ♄ ♄ ♄

Goodreads | Buy on Amazon

So it’s Halloween (happy haunting guys!) but anyone who knows me knows I don’t do scary movies/things. At all. Like I’m that person who got scared at the slightly jumpy scenes in Stranger Things and hides during Scream Queens which is slapstick horror at best. So… I decided to go total 180 and do a romance contemporary review instead on this hallowed night of horrors. Don’t worry though, it’s not all sunshine and roses – keeping it real with some Armentrout *cool dude emoji*.

Mallory Dodge has been home-schooled up until senior year of high school because of a traumatic childhood. After four years of intense recovery, following her adoption by a pair of doctors, she still finds speaking up, or sometimes at all, difficult. After all, a habit of silence reinforced with threats of violence is hard to break… Senior year is Mallory’s way of breaking out of her comfort zone. But she didn’t expect to be totally thrown in the deep end which is exactly what happens when she comes face to face with Rider Stark, her protector from childhood whom she hasn’t seen in four years. As sparks fly and old feelings resurface, Mallory finds herself in deep with Rider and his complicated life, and she realises that she must find her voice if she is to save the only boy who has always been there for her.

I’d thought I’d already closed the chapter. Now it was reopened, flipping all the way to the beginning.

The Problem with Forever in a nutshell was pretty so-and-so for me. There were some great things, a few not so great. The characters fall in the latter camp – they were underwhelming and seemed one dimensional: Rider was the broody saviour; Paige, the “bitchy” obstacle of a girlfriend; Jayden, the kid who’s in over his head; Hector, the long-suffering older brother; and Ainsley, the sassy best friend. I would’ve liked to know a bit more about each of their back stories – how they got to where they were, why they behaved the way they did. There are some hints that Paige is from a broken home but it is never explored beyond the perfuctory mention. And I really disliked that Ainsley and Jayden were just plot devices to provide Mallory some perspective.

Forever was something that we all took for granted, but the problem with forever was that it really didn’t exist.

The main reason for the 3 stars though was that this was a veeeery loooong book (“The Problem with Forever-ongoing books” amirite?) The book could’ve been a fraction of the length it was without losing any of the substance and plot. The first 50% was pretty much the unrequited drama of “will they/won’t they” and I found myself repeatedly rolling my eyes because it was just endless flowery descriptions of how hot Rider is, how expressive his eyebrows/ dimples/ eyes/ insert body part here is, and how Mallory keeps stealing not-so-subtle glances (let’s be real, she ~stares~) all whilst his girlfriend looks on – lovely. And while we’re on the topic, I found Armentrout’s writing a little clunky – there’s a lot of eyebrows “slamming”, lips “kicking” and fingers “wiggling” i.e. in goodbye which I found plain jarring. Best of them has to be this nugget though:

The dimple made an appearance, blessing the hallway.

Lolz. I can’t even.

One of the things I did like was the portrayal of trauma and recovery. This is a great book when it focusses on how difficult it is to become “unstuck” after a traumatic event even if that’s years and years after the fact. Armentrout is unbelievably good at portraying the most harrowing child abuse without being too heavy-handed and we witness the progression of Mallory from being paralysed into silence to finally finding her voice.  I loved how The Problem with Forever  shows us that the physical scars and manifestations of trauma aren’t the only “symptoms”. Mallory has trouble physically speaking after years of silence as protection against abuse. However, we realise that sometimes the person who seems the most put together is actually the one who needs the most help. I think this is a really important aspect of mental health and it’s great that Armentrout gave it page time in this book.

Words were not the enemy or the monster under my bed, but they held such power over me.

So overall, the issues that The Problem with Forever deals with and how Armentrout writes about them was a positive for me and quite unique enough to warrant the 3 star rating. It’s very sympathetically done and the process of healing that we follow Mallory on is a touching one. However, the story that these issues are couched in just didn’t do anything for me and I felt disjointed from it. There was just a little too much swooning and not enough connecting for me when it came to Rider and Mallory and although understandable that their background would draw them together, I thought there was a reliance on their shared history for the romance to develop.

My past was a part of me and it molded who I was today… but it did not control me.

Have you read The Problem with Forever? Should I give other Armnetrout books a try? (If so, recs are v welcome!)

Bookish Review: Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

Published: February 2015 by Macmillan Children’s Books

Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Issues

Rating: ♄ ♄

Goodreads | Buy on Amazon

 

I read Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls not long ago and was disappointed by the portrayal of female friendships so I had high hopes for Beautiful Broken Things especially as it seemed to be receiving rave reviews.

Caddy and Rosie have been best friends since forever, and whilst Rosie is the confident one and Caddy the shy and “uninteresting” one, their friendship is comfortable and stable. Enter Suzanne, the exciting but mysterious new girl and before long, Caddy finds herself overcoming her jealousy of this intruder and thirsting after the freedom and rebellion that Suzanne brings. But Suzanne is running from her own demons and Caddy soon finds herself swept up in a tumultuous friendship.

Sounds great doesn’t it? Sadly, I was very disappointed with this book, and I’m aware I’m in the minority! It took me a while to get through Beautiful Broken Things and honestly? It was a slog. My biggest issue with the book was that for the first 75% we have a ridiculous amount of repetition. Nothing seemed to happen that hadn’t happened once twice multiple times already. Let me explain. Essentially, we had a Groundhog Day-esque loop of situations:

  • Step 1: Suzanne does something reckless
  • Step 2: Rosie gets annoyed and calls her out on it
  • Step 3: Caddy would stand up feebly for Suzanne whilst rejoice in feeling needed
  • Step 4: Suzanne would apologise (I am not even kidding, “sorry” appears a grand total of 88 times in the book!)
  • Step 5: Rosie and Suzanne would make up
  • Step 6: Repeat ad infinitum

And I’m sorry to say but that gets tiresome really quickly. The same can be said for the characters but special shout out to Caddy here (just as an aside, I really couldn’t get over this name, I actually took to calling her Cadence in my head because seriously Cadnam). So the idea is that Caddy, through Suzanne, will finally stop being “uninteresting”. Unfortunately, I felt like Caddy exploited Suzanne’s recklessness to make herself feel needed and validated which was so dangerous for Suzanne who was essentially spiralling out of control and needed support and stability more than anything. Also, I didn’t see any character development in Caddy, she was just as insecure, naive and selfish in the last chapter as the first, and especially at times when her friends needed her. There was one point where I wanted to throw the book across the room because of her sheer idiocy but Rosie’s reply stayed my hand:

Caddy: “How could we know this was going to happen?”
Rosie: “But the thing is, you should have known that something like this could happen. Like, that’s pretty much exactly why people don’t do things like this.”

There were a couple of redeeming features hence the two star rating. First, I appreciated that Barnard portrayed the complexity of female friendships with all of its obsessions, jealousy and conflict without having to rely on any romantic subtext. Teenage female relationships are messy and passionate and sometimes authors seem to feel the need to justify it by weaving in romantic subtext – honestly there’s enough drama in platonic female friendships that you don’t need to amplify it! Secondly, I liked that Barnard was original in looking at the aftermath of abuse in Beautiful Broken Things and how the trauma doesn’t magically just go away once a victim is removed from an abusive situation.

Despite those few positives, the best way I can sum up this book is that I felt like a rubbernecker. You know when there’s been a car crash on the side of the road and drivers slow down to stare as they drive by? Well with Beautiful Broken Things, I was the driver and the book was unfortunately the car crash. Beautiful Broken Things was interesting enough, in a morbid “I know something bad will happen” kind way and that’s why I stuck around (I wanna know how it ends dammit!) And to continue the analogy, exactly as you would with a car crash you’d rubberneck for a minute, maybe two, and then be on your merry way, the whole thing forgotten and filed away as insignificant in the grand scheme of your life. This pretty much sums up my feelings about Beautiful Broken Things – it was just about interesting enough to pique my curiosity but totally forgettable once put down.

Bookish Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

everything-everythingEverything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Published: September 2015 by Corgi Books

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction

Rating: ♄ ♄ ♄  1/2

Goodreads | Buy on Amazon

I haven’t read any YA contemporary romance in a while and was in the mood for some. Everything, Everything has been on my TBR pile for literally aaaages (along with every other book on the planet *sigh*) and I remember there was much hype around it when it was first released so it looked promising.

Madeline Whittier is ill. So much so, she hasn’t been able to leave her house in 17 years. Maddy is allergic to the Outside and for as long as she can remember, the four walls of her home have been the boundaries of her world and her mother and nurse, Carla, the only other inhabitants. Maddy has accepted her lot in life and tries not to dwell on all that she is missing. But everything, (everything) changes when Olly moves in next door and is determined to penetrate the bubble Maddy has had to build around her life…

I was happy before I met him. But I’m alive now, and those are not the same thing.

So this book was all kinds of awesome… until it wasn’t. I think that’s the best way I can think to sum it up. Those who have read it will understand what I mean but let’s focus on the good parts first. Obivously, Maddy’s disorder is the most unique and important aspect of the novel. I found her illness intriguing and whilst this was a contemporary romance, what I took away from the book was Maddy’s outlook on life – her philosophy if you will. She was as positive as one can expect under the circumstances and I found it admirable that she found ways to look on the bright side of the very limited life she lived. Everything, Everything really made me  appreciate all the small things I usually take for granted, things like literally being able to step outside our front door without pain of death.

Instead I wish for something more likely than a cure. Something less likely to make us both sad. “World peace,” I say.

There were a couple of other things that I really liked in Everything, Everything. The book is beautifully illustrated throughout with fun doodles (by the author’s husband btw, adorbs) which gives a little relief to the heavy topic at the centre of the novel. I also liked the cute IM conversations and the messages on the window, it broke up the narrative a little whilst also reinforcing just how isolated Maddy is. Nicola Yoon also used a really interesting way to emphasise just how different Olly and Maddy’s situation is – Olly’s constant movement, fluidity and momentum contrasted with Maddy’s cautious, stationary and predictable life and it was a really awesome example of an author showing rather than telling.

His body is his escape from the world, whereas I’m trapped in mine.

But I’m afraid that’s really where the goods end for me and the not so greats take over. Besides Maddy’s outlook which I did connect with, I didn’t particularly warm to the character herself. There were times I wanted her to be less passive about her situation especially towards the climax of the novel and I felt when she finally did take the initiative to control her own life, it came a little late. Same goes for Olly’s character, I couldn’t warm to him either beyond a superficial level (hello addition to book boyfriend list!) because he was damn near perfect, seemed to always know the right things to say and do and didn’t appear to have *any* flaws. I didn’t really care for Olly’s difficult family situation as it seemed contrived by the author to show he isn’t perfect – sorry Ms Yoon, I’m not convinced and am firmly of the belief that poor Olly basically suffered from Augustus Waters syndrome.

Before him my life was a palindrome- the same forward and backward.

So yep, its probably obvious that whilst there were some things I liked about Everything Everything, the ending which I found a little disappointing, meant it knocked off a star and a half for me. In the end, the innovative novel that I was hoping for fell a little flat and ended up being pretty meh for me. I think fans of The Fault in Our Stars may enjoy this and it is worth a read for the glass half full approach it promotes.