Friday, 5 February 2016

Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 388
Genres: Romance, Young-Adult

All the Bright Places

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it's unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the 'natural wonders' of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It's only with Violet that Finch can be himself - a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who's not such a freak after all. And it's only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink.
I found it very hard to rate this book. At its heart, All The Bright Places is uplifting but yet also a downer. It was odd.

I knew immediately what kind of mental illness Theodore Finch was suffering with as it was pretty textbook. I felt like grief and mental illness in this book was explored quite well, Finch and Violet struggle with their demons but they are not defined by them. Finch in particular was an extremely likeable character for me. A bullied misfit who is very tall and stands out in the crowd. I like how Violet was never on his radar until the moment he sees her on the ledge of the bell tower and finally realises he is not alone.

I also liked Violet's character progression, she is at first this shell of a person who no-one can reach until Finch cracks her open. I like how teenage sexuality was explored, it felt realistic and not avoided or glossed over. The pace was pretty slow in parts, sometimes Violet and Finch are just a bit too unrealistically quirky with the obscure literature references and philosophical musings.

I was left pretty underwhelmed by the ending, I think it was because it was pretty obvious to me how it was going to end. Compared to similar books I have read, it just didn't give me the same feels I have come to expect.

I liked All the Bright Places but there was something clunky and off about it. It's a very weird conflicted feeling. I can see why this book is so hyped but I think I am in the minority of people who just were not blown away.


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