I spent most of this novel enjoying it, but thinking it was pretty routine YA: girl with a secret, and a cute boy next door. But about halfway through, things begin to change in a major way, and I went from liking it to LOVING IT.
“Just because you can’t experience everything doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experience anything.”
Madeleine has spent her whole life trapped in her house — she has SCID, an immune disorder that renders her allergic to just about everything. She stays in her house — behind an airlock — reading novels and playing Scrabble with her mother (who’s also her doctor). When a new boy moves in next door, they begin communicating through email and IM. But she’s afraid to tell him that she’s sick, and afraid to tell her mother that she’s made a friend outside her walls.
Yoon tells the story through not only Madeleine’s narration, but also emails, IMs, and little posts where Madeleine defines words in a new way, or talks about what certain books mean to her. I listened to the audiobook, and highly recommend it — the conversations between Madeleine and Oliver really work well in that medium.
Like I said, other than the SCID, the novel starts out pretty normal. Oliver, the boy next door, is gorgeous and funny and smart. So is Madeleine. But as they become more and more involved, Madeleine begins making choices for herself for the first time — with consequences. I can’t really go into more without spoiling things, but if you like YA you should definitely read this one. And when little things about Madeleine’s life begin to bug you — don’t blow it off as poor writing. Those little inconsistencies add up over time to something I never saw coming.