I’ve heard so many great things about this book. I mean, c’mon, it was so popular that they turned it into a movie! In other words, I really wanted to love it. But… I didn’t.
Madeline developed a rare disease when she was younger that makes her allergic to practically everything. As a result, she has lived her whole life cooped up inside her house with only her mother and nurse for company. Then, Olly moves in next door and everything changes. Before, she accepted that she couldn’t leave the house and tried not to want anything more than to stay inside and read. But now that Olly’s just a few hundred feet away, she begins to think about all of the things that she’s missing out on. She suddenly yearns for love and adventure and over time she decides pursuing these things might be worth risking her life.
I guess I should start with the things I did like about this book. I enjoyed the unique format and thought that the diagrams and drawings were a cute addition. I loved that Maddy was a reader and I found that part to be extremely relatable. I also thought that Maddy and Olly’s IMs were funny and interesting, I thought they had a really strong, cute connection. In my opinion, they were both pretty likable characters and I did want to see them together. Also, I really loved Carla. I thought she was so sweet and lovable and I admired her for inspiring Maddy to try and live her life. That was pretty much the extent of what I liked about this book.
Onto the things I didn’t like. First, even though I was rooting for Maddy and Olly, there was a bit of an insta-love feel to their relationship. This was the first time I really understood why that bothers people so much. Everything just felt too convenient. Furthermore, I whole-heartedly wish that I believed that there were guys like Olly out there who were willing to be loyal to a girl they could hardly ever see or talk to, but I honestly doubt there are many. This was just the first of many unrealistic elements in this story. Next, despite how much I loved Carla and the way she treated Maddy, I can’t imagine that there are many nurses/mother figures who would have acted that way in this particular situation. Spoilers ahead! Letting Olly into the house to sit across the room from Maddy after being filtered was one thing, but letting Maddy spontaneously leave the country even though it could literally kill her was a whole other thing. Also, Maddy and Olly’s entire trip was just so unbelievable. It is not that easy for two eighteen-year-olds to just sign up for their own credit cards, buy plane tickets, and leave the continental U.S. on a whim. If it was, I would have tried it haha. And finally, I thought the end was somewhat predictable. I started to catch on to the fact that Maddie wasn’t sick the first time she went outside and nothing happened. Then I realized that her mother was probably just afraid of losing her the way she lost her brother and father. If it hadn’t been so predictable, this might have been a good twist, but I was pretty sure what was going to happen pretty early on. (No more spoilers.)
Overall, this wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read, but I certainly wouldn’t reread it. I am curious to see if I would like the movie any better. The concept of a girl allergic to the outside world was interesting and the characters were pretty likable, but I just found the plot to be so unrealistic and predictable and that ruined it for me. I have heard that as far as Nicola Yoon books go, some people like The Sun is Also a Star better. Maybe I’ll give that one a chance and hopefully I’ll enjoy it more.