Book Reviews, YA Contemporary, Young Adult

Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon Review

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Taken from: @inkdropsbooks (Instagram)

Rating: ★★★★

This book caught my eye because, well, because I’m pretty sure you can’t be into YA at the moment without having caught wind of Nicola Yoon’s novels. Both of them have been huge hits, and this novel Everything, Everything has even been made into a movie starring Amandla Sandberg. I just had to read this book and see what the fuss was about, and I get it. I really do. I read this book in less than a day, and if I hadn’t had things to do, I would have read it in one sitting. Madeline is captivating, and the story, and Nicola Yoon’s writing, swallowed me whole.

Madeline is 18 years old, but she spends every day cooped up in her completely clean, safe, cocoon of a house. Why? She has a condition called SCID, which means that she is effectively allergic to the world. One step outside, and something could trigger all sorts of horrible reactions. The world is literally out to kill her. Madeline is content with her life, which consists solely of her mother, her nurse Carla, her Skype tutors, and her books – that is, until a family move in next door. Olly is energetic, running up walls and jumping onto the roof; he is kind, protecting his mother from his abusive father; he is funny, communicating with Madeline by mimed conversations through the window and then through online messages. However, the more Madeline gets to interact with the outside world, the more she wants to be in it, and she has to decide whether life is better lived safely, or fully.

Madeline is such a wonderful main character and her voice is so strong that you feel like you know her. I love the way that Nicola Yoon has various different types of chapter in the book, so that you get a sense for different sides of Madeline. Some of the chapters were simple retellings of what is happening, while others were computer screenshots, or  diagrams, maps or IM conversations. These broke up the structure of the novel in a really fun way, because events that were perhaps more ordinary, like Madeline buying an entirely new wardrobe, could be put across to the reader quickly with a drawing. Others really got across the emotion that Madeline is feeling, whether it is the dream that is described in writing in the form of a spiral, or a map of her broken heart. They also bring you closer to Madeline in that you feel like you are reading her personal journal, seeing the doodles that she makes for her eyes only.

I also really enjoyed the relationship between Madeline and Olly. I loved the contrast between Olly and Madeline, and the fact that he in a way, symbolises everything that Madeline is missing outside. He wears all black to her all white, and while she is trapped inside her house, he is running around and practicing parkour. At the same time, he didn’t feel like a YA love interest cliche. He wasn’t a bad boy, he wasn’t cruel, he wasn’t a John Green quirky nerd. He felt as real as she did, and I never found myself wondering what was so special about Olly. He was genuinely nice. I also liked that although both of the characters come from very different family backgrounds, they both have to face the same challenge of finding a way to be free of their family’s control, and the idea that love can trap you as well as free you. This might seem a little vague, but I promise you, if you read this book you will see what I mean. This novel doesn’t portray love as being simple, and for such a short book, I think Nicola Yoon really explores the nature of love in all its forms really well, from Madeline’s controlling mother, acting out of love and trying to protect her daughter, to Olly’s mother who can’t find it in her to take herself out of a dangerous situation.

My only issue with this book was that I felt like the plot twist – without revealing anything spoiler-y – was a cop-out. All of the problems facing Madeline were solved with a flick of Yoon’s wrist, and the consequences of this plot twist didn’t felt properly dealt with enough. To be honest though, this was annoying, but it didn’t ruin the book for me. My favourite parts of the novel were the characters and their relationship, and this wasn’t really dampened by the weak plot. If Nicola Yoon had explored the various revelations made in a more nuanced way, this book would have been a 5-star read.

Overall, this book had so many wonderful aspects. I really recommend this if you are looking for a short and sweet read, whether you typically read YA or not, this is a brilliant and entertaining novel, and I can’t wait to read more of Nicola Yoon’s work.

Book Reviews, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Young Adult

The Sleeping Prince – Melinda Salisbury Review

 

 

 

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Taken from: @inkdropsbooks (Instagram)

 

Rating: ★★★★

The Sleeping Prince is the sequel to The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury which I reviewed recently (here). While I found The Sin Eater’s Daughter somewhat disappointing, The Sleeping Prince was the complete opposite. I went into it expecting it to be like the first book, but this was the complete opposite. The characters were relatable and jumped right off the page, the relationships were more complex, and the storyline had me hooked from the start.

Something to note if you go into this book after reading The Sin Eater’s Daughter is that The Sleeping Prince follows a new set of characters. Gone are Twylla and Lief, the Prince and the Queen. In this book, we’re introduced to Errin, who from the very beginning captured me. Her and her mother have had to move to a village near the border of their kingdom after her father died and they were thrust into poverty. She had to leave her apprenticeship to be an apothecary and she is barely scraping by. She is also harbouring a grave secret that could put them both in danger. Her mother is sick with what Errin thinks is a magical disease that makes her go crazy when the full moon is out. When the village is evacuated because the Sleeping Prince (the story from the first book) is going to invade, Errin faces the great problem of how to get her mother to safety without anybody realising what’s wrong with her.

sleeping-prince_melinda-salisbury_fullUnlike Twylla in the first book, Errin is so proactive and determined to get her way. She always has a plan, and refuses to let the world trample all over her. Throughout the book, I felt more and more like I respected her genuinely for not only the backstory that Salisbury gives her, but for the things that she did throughout the book. She travels across the kingdom, hunts people down, fights enemies, and all the while, she is just focusing on her family and getting them to safety, not glory or victory. I also enjoyed the other characters that were introduced, such as the mysterious Silas, and eventually when the story meets up with that of the first book, it did so in a completely surprising way that I was not expecting. The characters from the first book that made a reappearance in this one were more three-dimensional and alive than in the first book, and seeing them working together (or against each other) gave the whole book a different dynamic to the first.

Another thing that I really loved about The Sleeping Prince was that we got to see some more of the magic in Melinda Salisbury’s world. The first book was completely set within the castle grounds, but in this book we are in a different kingdom, we learn more about the myths and history of the world, the different types of magic and creatures, and so much more. The world really expanded in this book which gives you so much to think about and enjoy.

When I started reading this book, I wasn’t expecting too much, to be honest. I had enjoyed the first book, but I had found it to be slow-paced, and I didn’t really like the characters. If the books were longer, I don’t think I would have got this far into the series. However, I feel like Melinda Salisbury is always pulling something out of her sleeve to change your mind. I thought this book would be okay, but I actually really enjoyed reading it and whizzed through without wanting to put it down. Now I absolutely cannot wait to read the next instalment, so look out for the review to The Scarecrow Queen!

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