My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Actual Rating: 2.5
Let me start with this: I wasn’t impressed by Everything, Everything, but when this book came out, I knew I’d want to read it anyways. Afterwards, I had a lot of trouble deciding to round up or down – 2 was too low and 3 was too high, but in the end, the writing style was what pulled me to round up.
And also, this review is going to be packed with spoilers, because there are a billion details I want to talk about, especially in the “things I don’t like” section. If you’ve already read The Sun Is Also a Star, you’ll know that it’s written (mostly) in two perspectives: Natasha, and undocumented immigrant who is going to be deported tonight, and Daniel, the Korean-American who is struggling with the decision between following his dreams or his family’s expectations.
I’m going start off with things I liked (Spoiler-free):
1. The prologue. It was by far my favorite chapter. It embodies the main reason I wanted to read this book in the first place: the writing style. The writing style was amazing in Everything, Everything as well.
2. Some Daniel and Natasha scenes. They had a lot of moments together that I actually thought were pretty cute, because it just felt like friends having fun, and I could understand the connection they had – but when they start talking about love, it becomes a little overboard, and I’ll talk about this more below.
3. Different perspectives. The story isn’t limited to just Daniel and Natasha, and I loved how we saw glimpses of other people as well. It humanized them, and really made it seem like they each had their own stories to tell.
4. Cultural diversity. That was, of course, a main point of the book, and I’m glad to see it being addressed. I have a slight issue with how openly racist everyone seemed to be – I wanted to see it on a different scale as well. In modern day, there’s a lot of racism that goes on more subtly, and a lot of people ignore it because it’s not as obvious or dramatic. I wanted to see more realistic scenes like those.
Here are things I didn’t like (LOTS of spoilers):
1. The insta-love. This one takes the cake. First Daniel and Natasha seemed to have that spark, but suddenly there was an entire page where he was admiring her every facial feature and action. Honestly I would be fine if they continued to explore their sudden connection, but they jumped directly into the topic of love. And when Natasha says, “Don’t fall in love with me,” it felt like the most cliché line in the world.
2. Daniel and Natasha’s fight. It felt so pointless. Was it to add drama? Or to show how strong their emotions were? It just started so randomly, not to mention how I agree with Natasha when she says, “Don’t you tell me what to feel.” It’s been LESS THAN A DAY, and Daniel has absolutely no right to be able to dictate her emotions. He has no right to be angry, or to expect her to agree that they’re “meant to be.”
When Natasha reveals how she is undocumented and about to be deported, Daniel is nothing short of heartbroken, and he says how she should’ve warned him and that she didn’t tell him the truth. To me, that’s the entire problem about why I think insta-love doesn’t work. There’s no trust in the relationship yet, because that foundation hasn’t been built up. And Daniel has no right expect her to just fall into his arms and tell him the most important thing that’s probably going on in her life.
4. How it didn’t work out. This is a big one. Okay, so I have no problem with how Natasha failed to stop the deportation itself. What I have a problem with is why.
To be honest, I would have actually liked it if it turned out that no matter what she did it didn’t work out, because then it would be REALISTIC. Heartbreaking but realistic. But the book made it seem like the only reason that it didn’t work out was because the lawyer missed the court appointment. Because he was too busy having an affair with his paralegal. I feel like this trivializes the entire process and makes it sound like undocumented immigrants had such a high chance of staying – except for Natasha, because her own attorney messed up. It makes the problem personal, and the book loses its ability to make a universal message. It makes me wonder what the entire point of the book was if it was just going to pin the blame on the lawyer.
5. Focus on romance. The book focused too much on the romance, than on the cultural issues/deportation, which I felt had so much potential. And while I understand that this is a YA book and a LARGE (AND I MEAN LARGE) component of that is contemporary romance, it felt like it trivialized the serious problems that I thought could be addressed.
The second Natasha was officially deported, that was it. The book didn’t talk anymore about how she had left a life behind. Her life in New York became defined by that one day with Daniel. What about the other parts of her life? What about finishing school, or her best friend. All of that was just gone.
That leads me into my next point:
6. Underdeveloped secondary characters. I wanted to know more about the side characters. Charles, Daniel’s older brother, for example, had so much potential but nothing really happened with him. He was there to be a jerk, and aside from one “nice” thing, he didn’t have much screen-time. I loved how Natasha was saying that he was like that because he didn’t like himself, and I couldn’t wait for the idea to be explored more, but that’s the thing – it never was.
And Bev? She was “the best friend” but she seemed so insignificant. I wonder why Natasha isn’t spending her last day talking to her more, and why Bev just seems to be a random thing that COMPLETELY disappears. They don’t seem like best friends AT ALL. Bev isn’t even in the epilogue. There’s nothing about keeping in touch with her. It’s as if she just dropped her best friend.
7. The epilogue. I would have been okay with it if the story didn’t end with Natasha and Daniel meeting each other again. Because then it would’ve said something about how one day could change your life. You move on, but you don’t forget.
But Daniel and Natasha just had to (coincidentally, like everything else in this book), meet again. To me, it just feels like the author is fishing for a happy ending.
Overall, I was captivated by the writing style, but the plot was so unrealistic that I felt like I couldn’t fully enjoy the book. And the twist about the attorney gave me the same feeling I felt about the twist in Everything, Everything: disappointed and and underwhelmed. But I’m giving this book 3 stars for now (which, in my opinion, is pretty generous).