ARC Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Published: February 2017 by Macmillan Children’s Books

Genre: Retelling, Romance, Young Adult

Series: None (Standalone)

Rating: â™„ ♄ ♄ ♄ 1/2

Goodreads | Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads: Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

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

Review: I’d been salivating after Heartless ever since I’d heard of it. I am *the* biggest fan of the Lunar Chronicles because Marissa Meyer just hit the nail on the head with every book. I honestly cannot find fault with any of the books (which is the case even for some of my other favourite series) and would read them again in a heartbeat. Since I was wooed by Meyer’s fairytale retellings, I knew I had to get my hands on Heartless.

So first things first, I loved that this was the Queen of Hearts origin story because it totally throws you off-kilter! I wasn’t expecting to warm to Catherine as much as I did, because obv she’s the villain in Alice in Wonderland, but how can you not?! The poor girl has simple dreams: she just wants to open a bakery with her best friend and not be on the receiving end of the King of Heart’s affection. Alongside Catherine, there were the usual beloved cast of characters in Alice in Wonderland but also some original ones too. 

I liked the mix of canon and original material; it made it refreshing rather than feeling like just a rehashing of the Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland which can sometimes be the case with retellings. Marissa did an awesome job in balancing the two – she stayed loyal to the world Lewis Carroll created with nods to things like the wacky croquet, tea parties, and the references that had me squealing, whilst also giving us quirky new characters and a mystery that keeps you turning the pages. She even managed to weave in Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Raven which is just genius! 

The thing that really got me with Heartless was the knowledge of how this story plays out. I mean we all know the Queen of Hearts becomes a beheading-happy monarch so it’s pretty bleak trying not to get your hopes up or sail that ship into the sunset. Although I did figure out the mystery pretty early on, it was still a joy/painful to see it unfold. You actually want to cheer Catherine on as we follow her transformation into the Queen of Hearts – kind of like Disney’s Maleficent and a would-be heroine wronged into villainy.

The only thing that niggled a bit was the pacing hence the teeny .5 star deduction. The first Ÿ of the book concentrated mostly on Catherine’s romantic and entrepreneurial troubles and her indecisiveness on how to deal with both of these issues. Having said that though, it is understandable considering Catherine is massively stifled by societal and parental expectations (ugh her mother!) But because of this, much of the action and revelations happen in the last quarter and felt a little rushed to me. I would’ve loved more details on the back stories of the various characters, old and new, as well as the wider ‘verse which is hinted throughout! 

Overall though Heartless was an immersing read, it was recognisably Wonderland but not stiflingly overdone, more an homage to Carroll’s genius with references sprinkled throughout the book… Which brings me on to the fact that this book should come with a warning on the cover – beware: serious cravings for delicious sweet treats will be aroused in reading this book. The descriptions of lovely desserts had me drooling! 

SO in case it wasn’t already clear, Marissa Meyer has done it again with Heartless! Fans of The Lunar Chronicles you are in for a treat! Whilst those just after a solid classic or fairy tale retelling, in the vein of Renee Ahdieh or Rosamund Hodge’s books, should be shifting Heartless to the top of your TBR list. 🙂

Are you looking forward to Heartless? Did you also adore the Lunar Chronicles? Any retelling recs you’re dying to shout about? Drop me your thoughts in the comments below!

 

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: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Published: September 2016 by Macmillan

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Rating: ♄ ♄ 1/2

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This was my first Kendare Blake book (*gasp* and I call myself a YA book blogger). I’ve never gotten around to reading Anna Dressed in Blood and tbh it’s never really appealed because ghosts, horror and paranormal which aren’t my favourite genre in the world. Buuut I thought I’d take the plunge with this pure fantasy offering 🙂

Three sisters, triplets, queens: Mirabella, the elemental, Arsinoe, the naturalist, and Katharine, the poisoner, are bred by their guardians to compete for the Fennbirn crown. In their 16th year they will take part in a life or death battle, using their gifts to outwit their sisters, to claim the throne by being the last one standing. Except this generation things aren’t proving quite so straightforward. Arsinoe and Katharine’s gifts are weak whilst Mirabella is the only one showing signs of power that has people convinced she will triumph. As they and their guardians fight to cheat, trick and betray their way to the crown, the girls are tested and find the darkness in them brought to the fore…

I was hoping for great things with Three Dark Crowns. First of all, although it’s got a bit of a Hunger Games premise about it (the whole to the death competition thing) I liked that it had a “purpose”, that they weren’t randomers just thrown together by a cruel government. These girls have been bred to compete for the crown and murdering their sisters to get it was par for the course. It was interesting to see how their separate upbringings had shaped their personalities and how far they had been indoctrinated to believe that either they killed their sisters or died trying. The wider political friction between the Black Council and the Temple was intriguing but I would’ve liked to understand more about how it all came about. 

And that leads me to what the biggest letdown was for me – the world building, or lack of. There were so many different rituals, the Gave Noir, Beltane, the Hunt, the Quickening to name a few and some of the names were really ambiguous that by the time they were mentioned a second or third time, I’d forgotten what they were, where they came in the sequence of the Ascension Year, their significance etc. and it jarred the reading for me having to pause and remember. It also felt like a lot of context was skimmed over – why the animosity and friction between the Temple and the Black Council since they all believe in the Goddess? Why are King Consorts so important, what do they do? Hell, what does a Queen do once she’s crowned? I can’t for the life of me tell you what happens to the Queen in the 16 years between the birth of the triplets and the Ascension Year. The twist at the end also wasn’t so much a twist for me as a facepalm moment, and again it feels due to a lack of world building.

The characters weren’t the most memorable I’ve come across and there were quite a few to keep track of. I just feel like a lot of info was held back purely because Three Dark Crowns is the first in a trilogy and this also meant the pacing was rather slow. For pages and pages, we essentially watched as the girls learned and learned and learned some more how to use their gifts (or not so much in Arsinoe’s and Katharine’s case) and it did make me wonder what they’ve been doing for the past ten years that they haven’t really grasped the fact that neither are gifted and should have made contingency plans waaaay sooner. So as this plot was crawling along, the subplot of romance was given more airtime than I think we needed in this book.

The romance was a little miss for me. Reading Three Dark Crowns I actually felt like I was reading a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We had plenty of potential couples, but then we saw them running around with other characters because of various reasons such as curses and duty and it all was just rather messy. Hell, even the parents were in on it – was it just me who found the whole Madrigal (Jules’ mother) going off with Matthew (Jules’ bf’s brother) very weird? Like if Jules was to marry her boyfriend, Joseph, whilst her mum was dating Joseph’s brother, wouldn’t that just be a really awkward situation??? Anyway, I wasn’t sold on any of the ships – most of them seemed quite passive and I couldn’t really feel/sense the attraction between a character and their love interest.

I really wanted to like this but I’ve rated Three Dark Crowns 2.5 stars – the premise was interesting enough that it did keep me reading and was original. I liked that the plot doesn’t rely on some epic romantic arcs for our protagonists to have agency, at least in this book, and that it was more about 3 sisters dealing with their difficult predicament (kinda has a girl/sister power Frozen vibe about it!) However, I’m still on the fence about whether I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for the next installment…

Have you read Three Dark Crowns and have drastically different views? Let me know, I’m always intrigued when I’m in the minority with views on a book 😀

Bookish Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

A_Court_of_Mist_and_Fury_-_UK_CoverA Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Published: May 2016 by Bloomsbury

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Rating: ♄ ♄ ♄ ♄ ♄

Goodreads | Buy on Amazon

*Fans self* phew. Where the frick do I even begin?! A Court of Mist and Fury has coasted its way to my absolute Top 10 books ever (not including HP ofc duh) it is seriously *that* good. Sequels, especially the second book in a trilogy, usually struggle to live up to the first installment, and can sometimes feel like filler material but ohmigosh this book. THIS BOOK. Ahem, OK down to the business of convincing you to read this book if you haven’t already (WHY HAVEN’T YOU ALREADY).

Following on from the events Under the Mountain and Amarantha’s trials, Feyre is struggling to come to terms with her actions. Whilst her fast approaching wedding to the High Lord of the Spring Court is somewhat a distraction she feels stifled by Tamlin and her role in his Court. That is until Rhysand, the High Lord of the Night Court returns to call in Feyre’s end of her bargain with him. As Feyre spends time at the Night Court, she finds things aren’t all they seem, not least of all Rhysand. Learning more about her gifts and understanding more about the Fey world, she meets new friends along the way, and learns more about herself and the oncoming evil threatening her world – one that she might be key to stopping…

And I became darkness, and shadow, and wind.

There are 3 things that are the absolute basic ingredients for the success of any novel: characters, world building, pace & plot and Ms Maas delivers on all three – the bloody gift to humanity that she is. I am in love with all of the characters in A Court of Mist and Fury, from our main protagonists, right down to our secondary characters. Maas has spared no “expense” with her characters and gives them all enough page time and back stories and most importantly, purpose, that they are fully three-dimensional. I adored Rhysand’s Inner Circle – Morrigan, Cassian, Azriel and Amren. Their back stories are well-developed and distinct that the reader cares what happens to them, feels their joy, pain and sorrow and honestly this is just so rare. I loved learning more about Feyre’s back story, seeing more of her sisters and their dynamics, and seeing her grow into the independent and confident badass girl that we get by the end of the book. ACoMaF had a really great message which is that people have scars and imperfections but that this doesn’t stop you from growing or improving. Feyre forges her own path and decides her own mind and hear, even if it means going against the grain, in this book and it really is a joy to read.

The Court of Dreams. I had belonged to a court of dreams. And dreamers.

And for their dreams… for what they had worked for, sacrificed for.. I could do it.

And let’s not forget about Rhysand. The depth of his character is so refreshing – he is not just a pretty face with the sexiest flirty manner. Maas shows rather than tells us that Rhysand is a selfless ruler, who makes the best decisions for his people even if that means being derided and reviled outside of his Court. His loyalty and devotion to his Court, friends and Feyre is evident in his actions. I loved how he was Feyre’s equal, from the serious stuff like the respect he gives her to make her own decisions, right down to their brilliant banter. The slow burn romance was deftly handled by Maas, none of it was rushed or given priority over the brilliant story – just as it should be. ACoMaF was all about setting up the wider Fey world and I think a heavy dramatic romance would have detracted from this. I will say that the character ships are pretty obvious by the end of the book – but that’s a good thing because there doesn’t see to be any damned love triangles in sight 😉

“So what is there that was worth saving at the cost of everyone else?”

When I faced him, his blue eyes were as ruthless as the churning winter sea in the distance. “Everything,” he said.

The world building in A Court of Mist and Fury is just phenomenal. I knew that we’d learn more about Rhysand’s Night Court but wow. I drank up Maas’s descriptions of Velaris, the City of Starlight and the artists quarter. The cameos from some of the other courts, like the Summer Court and seeing the differences between them and the different High Lords, and learning about history of the Fae world just makes it so easy to become totally immersed. The events of the first book is contextualised into the bigger oncoming war against the King of Hybern and everything makes sense – there are no surprises when all the facts fall into place. Sometimes in fantasy genres, there can be some glaring plot holes where the author has taken some creative license in bending the world building to fit the plot but all of the plot lines just come together so naturally in this book. I’m so excited to see how all of these pieces will tie together in the final installment.

I want to rave about so many other things but this has already become a love letter of epic proportions so I’m going to console myself by re-reading ACoMaF again v soon. This book has really set the bar for me for a lot of the fantasy genre which is saying something! Here’s to a painful year of waiting for the next book.

Have you read A Court of Mist and Fury? Do you prefer it to A Court of Thorns and Roses? Let me know in the comments below!

Bookish Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

coverfullAn Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Published: April 2015 by Harper Voyager

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Rating: ♄ ♄ ♄ ♄ 1/2

Goodreads | Buy on Amazon

An Ember in the Ashes was a book club read and one I’d heard a lot of hype about as the next big fantasy series. The book couldn’t have come at a better time though because I was in the mourning period whilst waiting for the next installment in the Throne of Glass series, and I was hoping An Ember in the Ashes would fill that void perfectly.

Elias is a warrior trained at the most fearsome military academy in the Martial Empire. Laia is a slave, robbed of her freedom and her family. But their dreams and destinies are more alike than either could have imagined. When Laia’s brother is arrested for treason against the tyrannical Empire, she sets off an extraordinary quest to free him. Forced to sacrifice her own freedom and turn spy for the rebels, she meets the academy’s most promising student, who harbours his own rebellious thoughts against the Empire that he’s been brought up to serve. Together they realise they are both destined to play a part in a bigger game that could threaten the future of the Martial Empire itself.

I loved An Ember in the Ashes – that is basically the bottom line. However, having read it for a book club (always dangerous, prepare to either tear the book apart like an angry mob or pledge undying allegiance to it!!) I got to see how other book clubbers responded to it which is always interesting. The actual set up of the book was brilliant, it had all the classic elements of an epic fantasy – power struggles, prophecies, political maneuvering, and enough drama to keep me hooked. Whilst a rebel faction isn’t anything new in a YA fantasy, I did like how their objectives and their ethics were ambivalent, and the same goes for many of the characters too. Tahir was also cruel enough to sprinkle many clues about how the rest of the series will play out and what our protagonists have to look forward to, that I was practically eating out of her hand trying to join up the dots and guess.

I also found myself vested in the characters, their individual story arcs, and their interactions with each other. I cared about both the heroine and the supposed villain and shipped them most ardently 😉 I really liked how Laia was motivated not by some heroine complex but by her love for her brother. It was refreshing to see her not suddenly turn into a warrior princess and military strategist overnight just because she was a Protagonist on a Quest and associated with the rebel camp. Even though there were points where her naivetĂ© led to some facepalm moments, overall it made her character more realistic. Elias was also interesting in that he was a defector  even though he was one of the best Martial soldiers and as high up the social pecking order as you could get. It was intriguing to see his internal conflict around morality which is actually a major part of the book.

However, there are definitely elements of the book that even I can concede could have been handled a little better and may irritate some readers. First of all, some of the love triangles were unnecessary and quite a few of my fellow book clubbers heartily agreed. I admit I was a little disappointed that Elias and Helene couldn’t just have a platonic relationship. I thought their shared childhood growing up under very difficult circumstances is more than enough justification for her to care deeply about him. There were also some elements of instalove, and risking of lives based on fleeting acquaintances (par for the course really).

Another niggle was with Tahir telling us multiple times that the Commander was the Big Bad and the students of Blackcliff were the most loyal and sadistic of the Martial Empire’s servants. Sometimes this wasn’t totally convincing. Sure, the Commander did punish Laia once severely but she didn’t follow through on lots of her threats – the facial mutilation that never was seemed to be a classic cop out by the author to keep the protagonist attractive and perfect. Also, most of the students seemed to spend most of their time angsting after each other and playing out their love triangles/rhombus/freaking polygons rather than being the brutal soldiers and assassins they were supposed to be. Now I’m not asking for more sadistic elements for the sake of it but it just seemed like Tahir told rather than showed this particular aspect of her world building.

An Ember in the Ashes is one of the rare occasions where my rating could be called slightly irrational – I’m totally aware of some of the glaring issues with the book but I nonetheless adored it overall and it was pretty near perfect for me. The goods definitely outweighed the not-so-greats for me and the series is now up there with my other favourite fantasy series such as the Throne of Glass and the Lunar Chronicles series.

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.