Quick review for a quick read. So I have complicated feelings about this book. I liked it, but that's not to say that I didn't feel like there were issues that needed addressing more thoroughly (and the fact it has quite more than enough problematic points to articulate in the mix of things). This book skirts the issues of mental illness as well as having an all consuming rare sickness far too lightly for my liking. I think it needed much more depth to really sell the story and could've potentially done so in a much better way than it did, even considering this is written for a teen audience. For a while, despite some cheesiness and some significant plot holes, I was enjoying this novel, enough to rate it at a 3.5 to 4 stars. It's a story with cute romantic chemistry, easy to read banter, and beautiful illustrations. But then the ending...eh. I'll get to that in a bit.
Maddy is a young woman who's been sick all of her life. She's allergic to the world around her, as diagnosed by her mother, a doctor who hires a nurse (Carla) to tend to Maddie when she's away. Maddy doesn't question her mother's dedication or words to her, hence she's in a bubble. I don't blame her for not knowing any better about the situation she's in, and I like the fact she's a bookish girl who has a natural curiosity about the world around her. When Olly moves into the house next to Maddy's, the two of them hit it off relatively quickly. ("Ba-da-da-da, I'm an instalove machine, and I won't work for nobody but yooou...") I thought I'd be annoyed with this, but surprisingly, I was flying through this novel - the chemistry between the leads does feel real (if a bit fragmented). I liked Carla's character too, she seemed a really compassionate character and I liked Maddy's interactions with her.
I flew through the narrative admittedly because of the narrative style and the illustrations within the book - it was a cool way to present the story. Yet, as the story went towards the ending, my suspension of disbelief only extended so far. The revelation about Maddy's situation didn't make the twist in the story all that strong to me, because I was left wanting more and feeling like the center of that twist was relatively unaddressed and skirted over. While I was relieved for Maddy herself, I still felt this story dropped a hard ball, missing developing the characters and situations in order to make it work and just feel like it used its very serious issues just as convenient plot points.
It's a story I liked for some experiences, but I feel it left me wanting much more from it than what it told. It wasn't "everything" to me.
Overall score: 3/5 stars.
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley from the publisher.