I read this book because I saw the trailer for the movie and thought it looked incredibly cheesy. I had also just finished December Park which is about children getting snatched up, so cheesy sounded good at the moment. After finishing the book and re-watching the movie trailer for Everything, Everything, I’ve gotta say I’m so glad I read the book first. What comes across as stupid or ridiculous in the two-minute trailer is cute and endearing in the book.
Everything, Everything is about 18-year-old Madeline, a girl living with SCID, more commonly known as bubble-boy disease. She cannot leave her home because she is allergic to the outside world. If she left, she would die. She has lived her entire life under the protection of air filters, in-home nurses, a special diet, and an incredibly watchful but caring mother. Her small but for the most part fulfilling world is uprooted entirely when a new family moves in next door and she meets Olly, their teenage son. Madeline questions whether she’s really content in her bubble with her, her mother, and her nurse Carla. She has to learn the difference between just living and feeling truly alive.
What I loved about this book is the way that the author ties in little bits of Madeline’s quirky personality through doodles, drawings, and diary entries. It makes the character seem so much more real, especially since the premise is pretty unbelievable. The whole “bubble-boy” thing could have been ridiculous and overdone, but it wasn’t. Madeline isn’t angsty and desperate for the outside world. She is innocent and content and only just now contemplating the fact that there might be more to life than just the white walls and white sheets of her room.
This book was very reminiscent of The Fault in Our Stars minus the cancer
and it’s romantic without being a gushy stupid teen romance. It was a super-fast read, and I blew through it in about half a day. It didn’t blow me away, but I wasn’t disappointed either. It was cute, innocent, fun, and perfect for a quick read on the front porch on a nice day. We’ll see if the movie can pull it off just as well.
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LyEE7eR0nM
Those who pass up this book because it looks like it was written for fourteen-year-olds are really missing out. I first heard about Eleanor and Park from my mother, who told me I absolutely had to read it. My mom typically reads books about women struggling to survive in East Asia or queens getting their heads cut off, so it was a strange recommendation coming from her. I went for it.
Eleanor and Park is the story of two teens in Omaha, Nebraska in 1986. Park is 5’4″, half-Korean, into punk music and black t-shirts, and doing his best to maintain just enough popularity in order to avoid being the weird kid. Eleanor is a big (she says fat) redheaded girl who dresses in eccentric clothes and is impossible not to notice, despite the fact that all she wants is to be invisible. When Eleanor sits next to Park on the bus on the way to school, Park is sure she’s ruined his stint of popularity for him. Over the course of a school year, Park and Eleanor slowly fall in love despite all the things holding them back. Eleanor and Park is a fantastic story of first love, how awkward it can be, and how it takes every last breath out of you.
Eleanor and Park is not a particularly fast read. I read it slowly and carefully, not wanting to miss a single detail. I’m a sucker for love stories, and this one captured me immediately. I felt like the characters were genuine and ridiculous – what most teenagers in love typically are. It was witty and cheesy and fun. It was awkward. It was everything you would expect a novel about two in-love teenagers in Nebraska would be. I also think it’s the best of Rainbow Rowell’s books, because there’s also a level of seriousness to the entire thing. People tend to dismiss high school romances, but Rowell does a fantastic job of presenting it as the most important thing that has ever happened to Eleanor and Park. It wasn’t something fleeting, it was forever.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book before any of Rainbow Rowell’s others. Fangirl and Attachments are both good in their own right, but in my opinion are fast reads and make no lasting impressions. Eleanor and Park is good for those who want to branch out into reading YA Fiction but don’t want to feel like they’re reading a book written for kids. It’s good for someone who wants to read a book about love and romance with an added layer of innocence.
My initial thought when beginning Poison Study was that it was definitely going to be a hit or miss. Luckily, it was closer to a hit for me.
Although Poison Study may not be the most sophisticated book, for YA fantasy it was surprisingly good. Yelena is a teenage girl in jail for murder, something she openly admits to. Unapologetic for her actions, she has been rotting in the dungeons of Ixia for months when she’s offered the position of Food Taster for the Commander, which essentially means if anyone attempts to poison Ixia’s leader, she’ll be the one getting poisoned first. Trained by her handler Valek, Yelena must learn to defend herself and her Commander and hopes to plan an escape. However, Yelena quickly finds it will be much more difficult to survive outside the castle walls than she thought (mostly because she’s a murderer, even if she had a good reason for it). All in all, Poison Study is a book about a girl who for the first time in her life must learn not to run away, but instead to confront her past while attempting to stay alive in her present.
I personally tend to feel that YA fiction can be pretty predictable. While some of Snyder’s storyline was typical for the genre, the world-building in Poison Study provided an awesome backdrop for Yelena’s story. The kingdom of Ixia was believable and interesting, and the culture she created made Yelena’s character seem a lot more real. The characters were great. I could see Yelena change and grow throughout the book as she shed the girl she was in the dungeon and tried to figure out who she was supposed to be. Snyder threw in quite a few twists that I hadn’t seen coming and had me changing my opinion on one specific character time and time again, and didn’t leave any of the characters one-sided or forgotten.
My one and only complaint about Poison Study is the Yelena and Valek storyline, which probably makes me cynical and annoying. While the emotions felt real, that YA romance has been told time and time before.
All in all, Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder was a pleasant surprise. While I’m not sure I’m in it for the long haul through the entire series, it was a great start. (Followed by: Magic Study)