PURCHASE:Amazon | Book Depository
This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.
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.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
Do you ever read a book that leaves you feeling empty? Unfulfilled? This is what reading this book was like for me. Even now, I am hesitant to pick it up and write this review because whenever I look at this book, I am reminded of that horrible feeling.
There are many good things about this book and I can see why so many people have fallen head over heels for it but this book and I weren’t meant to be.
This book is ripe with potential but for me, that potential was never fulfilled. Instead I was left feeling disappointed.
Maddy is a great female lead and she also happens to be biracial (YAY DIVERSITY!). I love that even though she has been sheltered all her life, she is never naïve. She is smart, aware of her situation and isn’t bitter. That is until Olly comes along. And that’s where I thing things took a bad turn. Because when Olly comes along, Maddy realizes she doesn’t just want to live, she wants to be alive. Olly makes her see all the things she wants and can never have so what does she do? She starts keeping secrets. And if there is one thing I hate, its secrets. There are exceptions but I don’t think secrets should be kept from people who are on your side especially if they are just a cover for for reckless behavior. In fact, I am not really fond of reckless behavior (although there are certain situations some readers will find reckless that I wouldn’t so it just depends on the reader) and that was probably strike one for this book and I.
Even though Olly set into motion the events for strike 1, I’d still say he is pretty swoonworthy. He was hilarious, kind and SO PRETTY. He also liked math! Like Maddy, he is dealing with his own issues but said issues were never explored. Somewhere along the way, this book became more about how SCID was preventing Maddy from doing things she wanted to (like being in a real relationship with Olly) than it was about two people connecting despite their circumstances. I wanted a romance that wasn’t limited by restrictions but rather enhanced in some way. But that’s exactly what happened.
Something else that didn’t work for me were some of the minor conveniences like Maddy getting a credit card. Given that she is 18, it’s possible she could have done it without leaving the house but to get a credit card, I would assume one needs a bank account and how did she get her own bank account without her mom knowing and without her leaving the house? While we’re at it, why is everything in the house so white? I get that it kind of represents the colorlessness of her life but I’d also like me some concrete explanations. Neither of these things are that big of a deal and the reason they stuck out to me more than they will to other readers was because by the point I started noticing and started getting irritated by these things, I was no longer in love with the book.
You see, this book was so very charming when it first started. Little details like old diary entries, lists, IM messages (that sounded realistic and weren’t written lyk dis) and Life is Short™ spoiler reviews that Yoon added made this book feel magical and brought Maddy’s character to life. I LOVED this book and I loved Maddy’s character (her favorite movie Pride & Prejudice, THE BBC version!!!!!) I loved Olly and Maddy’s relationship. I loved Maddy’s relationships with Carla and her mother as well. That first third of the book was magical but sometimes, magic doesn’t always last.
Something happens towards the end of the book that seriously pissed me off. That was strike three for me. I cannot go into much detail without giving away spoilers but that one thing made me feel like the entire situation at hand was undermined. Turned into something it shouldn’t have been. It seemed like an easy way out of a very complex situation and I hated that. I wanted there to be a complex solution to the problem instead of a mean twist that solved everything.
This book was obviously a miss for me but given how many people have loved it, I am sure many more will. If you happen to be one of those people who don’t, come join me in eating tons of Nutella to drown all that disappointment.
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