The first word of the review I left on goodreads for this book was whoa and I’m not sure I can do much better here. This book is seriously good (in many different senses of the word) and left me equally enchanted and disarmed. It’s easy to see why this novel is going to debut as a #1 New York Times Bestseller (all the more impressive considering this is Nicola Yoon’s first novel). It’s easy to see why people are picking the book up. The cover is beyond gorgeous and the flap copy instantly intriguing: 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.
The combination of a rare disease and a doomed love story is too much to resist. And the promise of the cover art and story set up are fully delivered on. However, the novel is more than the swoon-worthy love story and humorous (at times intricate) drawings that are included in the pages of this book. It explores the complicated relationship eighteen-year-old Madeline has with her mother, her nurse, and her own changing sense of identity. Furthermore, Yoon somehow manages to make Madeline completely relatable, despite her completely unrelatable circumstances.
How does Yoon pull this off?
My first guess is magic. My second guess is very, very tight writing. Much of the book is quiet, like Madeline’s life full of routine, ritual, and solitude. Other parts of surprising, twisty, and fast paced. The simple writing style, rye humor, and subtle wisdom of the main character unite these disparate moments and definitely will keep you turning pages.
I (probably) won’t be the first person to tell you to read this book. And I (definitely) won’t be the last. So when you do, come back and tell me what you think. One of my roommates and I have been squealing over how much we liked it all week. I have very little doubt you will feel the same way.
*I was very, very excited to get an advanced copy of this book through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. All these thoughts and opinions are my own.