So…since I saw the movie with a friend recently (who has also read the book- yay for real life bookish friends), I thought I would make a post reviewing BOTH. Hooray.
Rating: 3/5 (original rating: 4/5 but I docked a star for the problematic aspects)
I finished this book in a day…I still can’t quite believe it yet. It feels like I just ran a marathon (and the only thing I run is this blog so #saveme) this calls for celebratory brownies (and a break to let my soul rest because honestly). This is the fastest I ever read a book ever. How exciting.
My blurb: Meet Maddy a girl with a rare condition called SCIV or “world allergy”. Because of that she has to stay at home always. Enter a cute and funny new neighbor, Olly. And now we all start questioning what is a life worth living and there is also a trip to Hawaii because that is all fun.
Declaimer that I feel is necessary: Now, I am pretty much talking about the reading enjoyment aspect of this book because I don’t really know enough to talk about the problems as eloquently as an ownvoices reviewer but it is important to ACKNOWLEDGE the problems.
This is not good representation of SCIV in any way shape or form. It definitely isn’t a book for disabled people. It is a book for the able people about a disabled character. Which is not good or ok.
I highly encourage you to read THIS wonderful review by @apagewithaview in which she does an INFINITELY better job at explaining everything.
Now onto my original thoughts of this after I first read it.
I must admit I was surprised with this book. It’s quirky in it’s own weird way and I found myself really enjoying the writing style and Maddy’s voice (especially after she starts liking Olly- but I will get to that in a bit).
Besides, something quite curious happened?? I read this book in Romanian and not in it’s original English form?? IS the world turning backwards and chaos ensuing in the universe? Because let me tell you THAT ALMOST NEVER HAPPENS. It is a rare occurrence. (…when it does happen it’s because it’s cheaper to get books in Romanian (10 dollars for a hardback if you get in in the bookstore and 7 if you get it online kind of cheap)).
And now: short-ish description of the characters that somehow got out of hand and now it’s long-ish:
- Maddy: She was kind of annoying at the beginning.
Here are some honest opinions: I thought she was a bit of a snob. Look it it perfectly plausible that she is an introvert that likes to read because yes she was stuck in her house all her life. BUT DID SHE REALLY HAVE TO SHAME HER NURSE’S DAUGHTER FOR GOING OUT AND LIKING BOYS?? (Answer: no she absolutely did not have to do that. There is no need to be rude. I hate to see girl hate in any kind of media because it’s hurtful).
Also what kind of manic pixie dream alien teenager has a certain type of favorite poetry?? OR EVEN KNOWS WHAT TYPES OF POETRY THERE ARE AT ALL?? Or likes to play Scrabble with her mom?? Even my grandma thinks Scrabble is boring. What stopped them from having other bonding activities- like binge watching How to get away with murder on Netflix (…what? Don’t give me weird looks it works perfectly fine for me and my mom…we are normal I swear). Does being sick mean that you don’t get to do fun things?? Because I seriously doubt that. But then she starts liking Olly- and actually watching Mission Impossible instead of Pride and Prejudice #bless.
- Olly: Oh wasn’t he just full of wonder? To quote one of the best women in Disney movies aka Meg from Hercules: he really is “wonder boy”. In spite of his disgusting donkey of a dad he is sweet and cares so much about Maddy. And I love his witty sense of humor (and no I don’t want only gush about him like he is the saving ray of sunshine (even though he was after the first 60 pages of the book- sorry not sorry Maddy but I would have dnf-ed the book) because he thinks that haikus are like limericks that lack humor and he made Bundt cake commit suicide and gave it a funeral…though these reasons certainly adds up to my love for him)
There is also a whimsical layer to this story, one that I think Nicola Yoon crafted really well. This is a story that not only focuses on the actions and words of the characters but it absolutely LOVES to use symbols as well alongside those other two. And most of them you don’t even get until the end –so I shall discuss them more underneath in the spoiler section- but the author uses EVERYTHING to craft the story line and lose ends that you didn’t even realise were lose or even ends gets tied up like a big satisfying knot. The drawings add depth too so keep your eyes open for clues and Easter eggs.
There were small things like: Maddy buying colorful clothes for the first time and she gets the shoes in blue like Olly’s eyes. But also major things like the flipping scrabble that I couldn’t stand but then Maddy starts loosening up slowly and having more fun after the two start talking.
Things I didn’t like:
The fact that there was the occasion of portraying a healthy mother-daughter relationship but that just…doesn’t end up happening to say the least. And since I am really close with my mom I was so excited at first to see something similar in a YA book (you know…since most adults are either dead or horribly irresponsible)…but then it just kept getting worse.
(one massive spoiler so avert you eyes pumpkin friends because yup this is the ableist part of the book)
The ending can definitely be hurtful to so many people. Maddy’s illness is fake and she can live her life happily HOORAY…but what about the people who’s illness is not fake?? The people who really can’t leave the house? Does that mean that their life is not worth living??? It annoys me that her “sickness” was used as a metaphor and plot device.
I would have preferred it if we learned more about SCIV. Because I know nichts about it still. That would have been pretty awesome. If you know any kind of good articles about it please feel free to leave them in the comments.
And that ending was a bit abrupt: what are she and Olly going to do now?? Maddy has zero work qualifications and Olly is still in high-school. You are both still kind of young and in dire need to eat your veggies children- sorry but I don’t make the rules.
END OF SPOILERS
Other random thing: I squealed when Maddy said that she read the The little prince for the first time with her mom because I DID THE SAME THING!! And the Olly said that he didn’t understand the book I squealed again BECAUSE I DIDN’T EITHER!! Yey for relatable mashed potatoes brains that do not understand metaphors ever!!
Overall: it’s sad that a book that features a poc protagonist and an interracial relationship has such a big problematic aspect. I hope that in the future diversity is more normal in books- feature disabled AND poc characters that are happy because that is how the world is.
Look, I am not a movie reviewing expert (not that I am a book reviewing expert either I am just winging everything to be honest) so I am not going to make an essay on the cinematography ok. Here are some notes that I took on my phone that I have expanded into coherent thoughts.
Overall I think the movie is a pretty faithful adaptation- it captures the quirky tone of the book really well. Even the added scenes seemed to fit perfectly.
Some changes were even for the better. They didn’t include the girl hate element that REALLY aggravated me. Rosa was a more important character and was even portrayed as Maddy’s only girl friend. So yey great female friendships and no slut shaming. The only change that I didn’t like was the exclusion of Olly’s gay friend from Hawaii. Him and his struggles with his homophobic parents were strangely missing hmm.
The movie also doesn’t play the whole “you don’t get to live a real life if you have a disability” as strongly as the book. At least it’s not said straight up by any of the characters.
The acting and editing were quite meh. Sometimes the acting took me out of the movie a little. I also feel like some of the plot lines weren’t developed enough. Olly’s abusive dad was never mentioned before he suddenly hit Olly making Maddy hurry outside to help him so the scene lost a lot of it’s potential emotional punch. Similarly, if Maddy’s relationship with her mom would have been shown more it would have made the ending more emotional. These scenes just seem to jump out of nowhere and just tell the audience how the should feel.
(my friend also didn’t like the movie- and she likes Suicide Squad so you can be the judge of that)
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster. Goodreads
What do you guys think about book to movie adaptations? Love ’em? Hate ’em? Never want to ever hear about them again because they just ruin your favorite books so you shall hide behind your bookshelf and pretend they don’t exist?
Also what do you think about the problematic aspects of this book- and does the fact that it has a poc protagonist excuse other problematic parts?