All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Publisher: Penguin UK (8th Jan 2015)
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. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?
So here I am, writing my review of Jennifer Niven’s YA novel, All The Bright Places that got everyone talking and it even won the Goodreads Choice Award for YA. Did I mention that it’s 4 minutes to 3AM? Well, bookworms would understand that no matter what time it is, when you have the time, you will read. Here I am, after finishing All the Bright Places, unable to fall asleep because I just want to write down my thoughts on the book, just to make them more tangible and discernible.
Let’s not beat around the bush here. All The Bright Places is a book on mental illness and the hero of the book, Theodore Finch, has bipolar disorder, but he brushes it off as he flits from his mercurial moods and ever changing personalities. All The Bright Places deals with other issues that are faced by teenagers today: bullying, suicide, mental health, grief and broken family.
Violet Markey is the heroine of the book. She’s suffered a massive slam from the universe when her sister died in a car accident which left her injured. She’s lost without her best friend and she’s finding a reason to live, but clearly she’s finding none as she finds herself on the ledge of a bell tower. Until she met Theodore Finch.
Right from the start, I could tell that Finch was troubled, what with his affinity for death and his eccentric take on life. I liked how I saw life through Finch’s eyes and it was some sort of a glimpse into his troubled head. I liked Jennifer Niven’s writing as it is poetic, as it strings up words that form beautiful prose. I admit, it took me a while to get used to Violet because in the beginning, she was rather stoic and unfeeling, but after she’s opened herself up to Finch, I liked their romance.
The romance in All the Bright Places was bittersweet and adorable. I enjoyed reading about Finch and Violet’s wanderings and I did fall in love with them for a moment in the book. I loved how Jennifer Niven cleverly used the wandering as a means of “dates” for Finch and Violet as they travelled all around Indiana to discover the hidden gems around them.
However, I felt that All the Bright Places was slightly heavy, plot-wise because there was a bit too much going on and I understand that there is the build up to the ending and readers can slowly fall in love with Finch and Violet instead of the insta-love we find in most books today, but for me, I thought the pacing was a bit of an issue as I felt that there were some sinking holes in the plot.
Overall, All the Bright Places was a book worth reading if you’re keen to find out what the hype is about. I didn’t really love it but I liked it enough to not hate it. After reading it, I didn’t really felt that much of an impact, but maybe that’s just me because I am not particularly fond of mental illness-themed books. I enjoyed Jennifer Niven’s wonderful prose and there are some passages and quotes from the book that are simply beautiful.
All the Bright Places is out now.