Teen Novel Makes Subpar Film

by Natalie Murray ‘18

“Everything, Everything,” by Nicola Yoon, is a teen romance/drama novel telling the story of Madeline “Maddy” Whittier (played in the film by Amandla Stenberg), an 18-year-old girl who suffers from Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID). Because of this, she’s on permanent house arrest: any exposure to the outside world could overload her fragile immune system, potentially killing her. An avid bookworm with an active imagination, Maddy doesn’t mind her confinement—that is, until Olly
(Nick Robinson) moves in next door. Olly and Maddy fall in love, and begin pushing boundaries and
risking everything to be together.

Although neither the movie nor the book lived up to my expectations, it is an endearing (though shallow) film, based on a similarly endearing novel.

In many aspects, the book and movie seemed rushed—though the movie was faster than the book, which I believe to be its primary downfall. Whereas the book contained more character arcs, the movie moves so rapidly that the characters have little time for development. Maddy and Olly go from seeing each other through their windows to falling head over heels to risking their lives in what seems like minutes. The novel, contrastingly, has a much better flow. Maddy had time alone in the beginning of the novel, allowing the reader to fall in love with her and her quirks, and she fell for Olly over a more realistic time period. The book also better developed the mother’s character, so the major plot twist at the end seemed less random in the book than in the film.

Despite flaws in the pacing, the film was cinematically strong. The actors are refreshingly diverse, which is noteworthy in an age where Hollywood is rightly criticized for the lack of characters of color. The soundtrack made the movie, though wildly unrealistic in some aspects, more relatable to its teenaged audience.

“Everything, Everything” is mediocre, both as a book and a movie. Both have pacing flaws, which led to severely underdeveloped characters and plot lines in the movie, though it didn’t harm the book as much. So if you want a cute, casual film to watch, “Everything, Everything” could be the one for you.

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