Monday 12 January 2015

Book Review - All The Bright Places

All The Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Genres: Contemporary | Young Adult
Release Date: 7th January 2015
Publishers: Penguin
No. Pages: 400
Source: Review Copy - Penguin
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death. 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.

This is a difficult book to review, and one of very few that I actually try to avoid writing a review for, merely because, to me, it feels like books like All The Bright Places and other similarly styled novels like Love and Other Unknown Variables, The Fault in Our Stars and Tin Lily, all require you to have some sort of sense of connection, were you can relate to the characters within the story, or you've been through similar emotions, or you feel a pull to create a better world for these young people. It's very much character and emotion driven, and it makes it difficult to say whether you would enjoy this book, or better still, how this book really is. I can say that on the night, I really loved this book, I was taken in by it's character and could feel myself falling in like quicksand, but it doesn't mean you'll feel that way too.

All The Bright Places see's a young boy who is completely drawn to the idea of death, but does not want to die, teach a girl, who does want to die, how to live, and no matter what this young boy does, he teaches the lesson loud and proud, but, not always in the way it's expected. Finch is.. he's a tough character, in fact, to me, this is much less a story about Violet and how she grows and comes to terms with the loss of her sister, and much more about Finch and his story, his, battle against a issue that can very easily label you, and All The Bright Places covers that aspect of labels, both physically, in the form of positives and negatives, of dreams and the dead hopes, but in the more emotional and mental way, in the form of health issues, on confidence, and in personality. Finch is, a beautiful character, he's a character that will stay with me a very long time - his power, his passion, his, appreciation for the little things in life, it's so wonderful to read and it's heartbreaking to experience, to watch Finch's charcater change, to watch and read about him cornering off his life, about the hardships he went through, about the life her had, and had no choice but to live, the features that he suffered from, and feeling of, being trapped in yourself, he was what made this book for me. Finch's story was, definitely the most difficult part about this book for me, there was many a time I wanted to stop reading, just so there wouldn't be an end, an end that I really could not have prepared myself for enough, but Niven's writing, her talent for making this story not only relatable, but powerful in a way that highlights just how much one person can change so many lives, can, affect so many people, it made Finch shine, and while I did love Violets story, which was just as important, there was no charcater I loved more than Finch.

As plots go, All The Bright Places does feel a bit like stories I've read before and liked, it does take a twist on features and focuses much more on it's characters and the messages within the novel, but it does feel like a story I'm aware of already, which does put a slight damper on the reading experience as a whole - that and it felt a little long in areas where it didn't need to be, but these are just minor irritants that bothered me and might very well not bother many other people at all. Another smaller issue I had with the novel was how for such a strong subjected feature, Finch's issues, I don't feel like the actual knowledge of this issue wasn't highlighted enough. Me, I recognised the signs earlier on on more of a personal level due to friends having the same issues, but other people might feel a little irritated and annoyed at the length of time it took to reveal what was wrong, but from a time period point of view, of experiencing what Finch felt and went through, his battle, from school to home life, to his deep sense of adventure to the inner, most darkest parts of him, I felt it, and I was there, I just don't know if other people will be too..

Sometimes, there are books that become so difficult to review after the event that I have to turn to my notes, my feelings in the moment, and let them do the talking, and All The Bright Places is one of those reviews. While this novel is one of the most beautifully heartbreaking reads I've ever had the fortune to read, and while I confess that All The Bright Places can be a forgettable read, it's definitely in the moment, one of the most wonderful. Fair warning, very little of the following is rewritten, so take it as you please:

'I never read author notes, but I did this once and they just - *breathe Amanda* - this whole book, everything, the wandering, the learning to live again, the hiding, the holes, the memories like landmarks, the moments not the days, the if's, the if's are everywhere..

I think while Violets story is painful because of what she goes through; the left over actions - I think how we got to see both signs, how we got to experience what Finch went through, how we saw his getting to were he got, it was real, it was painful and it was horrible to read about, it really was.. but where I got connected to Violet, it was always Finch for me. He, lived everyday like it was his last. He did everything he could for other people. He lost himself, page by page, and that hurt me more than I had imagined it would. I always love, in a none sickening way, reading how choices people make can affect others, but I always connect to the person making the choice, I can't imagine how difficult those choices are to make..

I dislike how this book made me feel, but I also love it all the same. There's not enough words for the feelings in this novel, there aren't enough to describe it. This book is quite possibly one of the most emotional reads I'll ever have in my life, and there's nothing I'd like more than for other people to read and feel this book too. If people don't smile and cry for this book, then there's something seriously wrong. Niven is a genius.


  1. Yes, admittedly I don't think I'll remember much of all the details that happened in the middle of this book because there were bits that were just boring or not quite as eventful as the rest. But yes, this was incredibly emotional!

    Lovely review, Amanda <33

    1. It was definitely an emotional read, I didn't want to finish it so it would end! Thank you though Mel, as difficult as it was to review, it was a wonderful read :)

  2. *sniffles and cries forever*

    I loved this one. I felt so connected to the characters and I just really felt like I understood Finch and I just wanted to HUG Violet because I couldn't imagine losing my sister. I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH I WANT TO SCREAM. In fact, I fiiiinally got my sister to start reading it. She's like 3/4 through saying, "I have a baaaaad feeling." I just smirk and say nothing. xD

    1. They had such sad backgrounds but beautiful developments, no matter how heartbreaking. 3/4 of the way through is definitely the 'bad feelings' part though, I was broken at that point before the big 'event', oh man, oh Finch! *sniffles with you*


    I'm with Cait on this one, I love it so much I want to scream.Then scream some more. It's a book I keep pushing on people because I want them to have to go through all the hurt that I went through. Not sure if that's fair... but I WANT IT! That ending though *cries*

    1. It's definitely going to be one of the criers of the year in terms of tears isn't it? It's definitely a deep rooted novel and definitely had me crying, so it's fair to push it onto people :)


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