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Everything, Everything: Worth the Read?

Kara Pauly, Journalist

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In today’s age of cookie-cutter young adult novels, it can be difficult to sift through the fluff and cliches. Alternative pixie-dream girl and anti-establishment heroine have graced our pages and hearts since the likes of Hazel Grace Lancaster and Katniss Everdeen. Oftentimes it seems like the same story is regurgitated over and over again, with the same redundant plot. In this series, I, a young adult, will review young adult novels and compare them to their movie adaptations. Read on to decide whether you should skip the book and just go see the movie, or find out if it is truly “Worth the Read.” WARNING: There may be spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk.

At first glance, Everything, Everything seems like a rip-off of John Green’s 2012 bestselling novel, The Fault in Our Stars, with the ill heroine and suave, rebellious love interest. In TfiOS, Hazel and Augustus bond over their cancer and although the story is told from Hazel’s point of view, is very much a shared narrative with Augustus’ voice leaving an impressionable mark on the story. Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything differs in that it is very much Madeline’s story.

Her love interest Olly is obviously a dynamic character who advances the plot irrevocably, but his role is limited due to Madeline’s isolation and physical distance from him due to her immunodeficiency. Madeline has SCID, which means she is essentially allergic to the outdoors and is confined to her sterile home with only her mother and her nurse Carla for company. It is Madeline’s confinement perhaps that shapes the idea that Everything, Everything is her story, and not their story because there is little face to face interaction between Olly and Madeline for the majority of the novel.

This may also be the reason why the story is more conducive for a novel than a movie, as much of their interaction and flirting takes place via text. This did not translate well on screen, with the director attempting to make the text exchanges more tangible by placing Madeline and Olly in real life versions of Madeline’s models for Architecture class. I understand that watching two teenagers text for a two-hour film becomes very redundant and is not visually dynamic, but the “real-life” text exchanges were strange and took away the mystery and tension when Olly and Madeline eventually do come face to face.

The film also failed to effectively flesh out Olly’s back story and the extent of his familial problems. This is a key factor in Olly and Madeline’s relationship, bonding over their dysfunctional families. The film failed to do this part justice and I do not think that filmgoers were able to appreciate Olly’s complexities as much as they could when reading the book.

Another complication in the book to film adaptation was the style of the book. Interspersed between chronological narrative were snippets of doodles, notes, and short book reviews, acting essentially as Madeline’s diary. While the film managed to incorporate most of these elements, they were not as present or noticeable and did not contribute to Madeline’s character.

The film did a fantastic job in casting Madeline and Olly with Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson nailing their roles. Unfortunately, I was not as pleased with the casting of Carla. Ana de la Reguera did a great job conveying Madeline’s nurse’s warmth and affection but looked far too young to have a teenage daughter. Anika Noni Rose did a fantastic job as Madeline’s overprotective mother and portraying her complexities and twists.

Overall, I would say that the movie did the best it could with what it had. It is incredibly challenging to effectively translate text messages and drawings into a full-length film, and the directors did what they could to increase the drama. However, if you want to experience this story in all of its young adult glory, I would recommend sticking to the novel to gain a more realistic version of the story. Everything, Everything is absolutely worth the read.

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Everything, Everything: Worth the Read?