I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I was super excited to read this book after reading the description and all the positive reviews.
This was the first non-dystopian/fantasy book that I’ve read in quite a while. It was a nice change of pace. I read this on my birthday, and although it was not the best book I’ve ever read, it was an alright choice for a birthday book.
I thought the book was very well written. It flowed nicely, and I liked that she included their IM’s and Madeline’s drawings.
First of all, girl who is allergic to the world, great idea for a story! Second, in response to the reviews where some have pointed out the foolishness of Madeline suddenly willing to risk her life and health after being in close proximity to a boy for the first time. I took these comments into consideration when I read, but then I remembered my first crush, my first love and when I first met my soulmate. Love will make you do crazy things, without worrying about the consequences to yourself. I think this book captures that idea perfectly. So, even though he was the only boy she had ever known, she knew in her heart that she loved him and would risk her life to be able to live with him, because living in her bubble for the rest of her life without him would be as bad as death.
Although this book (like many others) focused heavily on the fact that Madeline fell in love the second she saw Olly. I believe another reviewer called it “instalove.” This is one thing that I hate about YA books. Instead of instantly deciding that they are attracted to a boy or deciding that they want to get to know a boy, they are instantly in love with him and are willing to die for him. However, it bothered me much less in this book than it does in some. This girl has been isolated from everyone but her mother, her nurse, and her occasional interactions with her tutors. Of course when she sees the gorgeous new neighbor, she’s going to decide that she loves him as soon as he shows her some attention.
*Disclaimer: This paragraph is spoiler-ish*
The one thing that I did like about this book, something that I have not seen featured in any other book featuring “instalove:” the boy questions her instalove! Olly did not fall in instalove. He was intrigued by the girl next door that never left her house. He was attracted to her and developed a relationship with her, which led to love. He also points out that he knows that his love for her is real, because he has never felt like this with anyone else before. Then, he shares his concern that although he is head-over-heels in love with her, “But, it’s different for you…It’s your first time for everything. Maddy, but not for me.” At first she starts to get upset, “But then, I realize that he’s not trying to dismiss or belittle my feelings. He’s just scared. Given my lack of choices, what if I’ve just chosen him by default?
I think that her reply was adequate (not sure if that’s the word I want to say, but I can’t think of a stronger word that described my opinion): “I promise you that I know my own heart, it’s one of the few things that’s not completely new to me.”
I’m usually not into sappy-ness, and this book almost pushed my sappy-limit, but overall, I enjoyed it. However, I do not think I would have enjoyed it nearly as much without the twist at the end. Although, I think the actual ending could have been done better, I feel like the twist at the end made the book much better. Not because it made it possible for the happy ending, but because it made it gave the book more texture.
Great job on your first novel, Mrs. Yoon. I look forward to reading more from you in the future!