Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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All the Bright Places

18460392By Jennifer Niven | Published on January 6, 2015 by Knopf | Number of pages: 378 pages | Format: Paperback | Genre(s): Young Adult; Contemporary Fiction; Romance | Goodreads

WARNING! The content of this book consists of depression, suicide, domestic violence, abuse, mental illness, anxiety, bullying, and grief. Read at your own risk.

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.

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WARNING! MAJOR spoilers are ahead.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ or 4 out of 5

It took me a long time to finally pick up All the Bright Places after contemplating and putting it back to the bookstore shelves whenever I came for a visit. I was uncertain. Now that I’ve read it, I thought I made a right decision. This was a beautifully written book that brought amazement yet absolute heartbreak.

I loved both Theodore Finch and Violet Markey. At first I was a little afraid that they might end up undeveloped, but to my surprise they weren’t. I found their point of views and development quite interesting and their romance adorable. I loved them together. I loved them individually. I, indeed, grew attached to these characters, though it did bother me when Finch wasn’t sensitive or careful enough in asking Violet about the death of her sister, Eleanor. I sensed that he acted a little too forceful towards her.

Other than Finch and Violet, I wished that the other characters could have done more, most importantly the families. In the Finch family, poor understanding towards mental illness was portrayed. The parents were heedless. It was uncomfortable, but after reading posts of interviews with the author Jennifer Niven, it was mentioned that she did mean to put it that way because for her, “it was important to show what happens when adults are negligent in their parental responsibility to care for their son and be there for him.” (Click here for the full interview.) After all, mental health is extremely a complex issue to talk about.

When I got to the part where Finch left Violet during his birthday and suddenly disappeared, that’s where I knew the negative feelings would creep in, and it did. I honestly felt angry, sad, frustrated, and upset throughout the last few chapters until I reached the end. I really, really, really, really, and really wanted to know how Finch felt or what was going through his mind and how he was doing while he was away and was on his own journey in visiting all of the wonders of Indiana that he and Violet planned to go to before he committed suicide. I even stopped reading and went through the pages to see at least one chapter of Finch’s point of view, but it hit me when I only saw Violet’s gigantic name printed on each beginning of the last chapters, so I think that Finch’s tragedy wasn’t handled very well. It became a blur to me. As much as I was shocked, I did see the plot twist coming.

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Other people keep saying that All the Bright Places is a combination of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. I haven’t read the latter, but I did read the story of both Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace. Yes, there were similarities between the books; unfortunately, for me All the Bright Places was able to acquire more and what The Fault in Our Stars was lacking, especially because of the fact that Jennifer Niven wrote her book based on her own personal experiences while John Green’s was from imagination. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate both books, but I personally think that the work of Niven definitely captured my heart.

For the writing style, it was wonderful. I was glad that I got to explore Finch’s and Violet’s own point of view.

In the end, I felt extremely emotional. I cried. I mourned. My head ached. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I was stuck with what ifs, thinking about tons of alternate endings. I didn’t want the book to end.

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Lastly, of course I wouldn’t miss mentioning the heartfelt author’s note at the end of the book. If you’re planning to read All the Bright Places, please don’t ignore it once you’ve already finished the story.

What do you think about All the Bright Places? Have you read it? If not, are you planning to read the book? Whatever it is, let me know by leaving a comment below! I would love to hear your own personal opinions or thoughts. If you want, you may follow me on Twitter and add me on Goodreads.

Thank you!

Credits go to Goodreads for the images and information of both book and author.

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45592By the time she was ten, Jennifer Niven had already written numerous songs, a poem for Parker Stevenson (“If there were a Miss America for men, You would surely win“), two autobiographies (All About Me and My Life in Indiana: I Will Never Be Happy Again), a Christmas story, several picture books (which she illustrated herself) featuring the Doodle Bugs from Outer Space, a play about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s sister entitled Blindness Strikes Mary, a series of prison mysteries, a collection of short stories featuring herself as the main character (an internationally famous rock star detective), and a partially finished novel about Vietnam. She was also an excellent speller from a very early age.

In 2000, she started writing full-time, and she hasn’t stopped. She has written nine books, and when she’s not working on the tenth, she’s writing the screenplay for All the Bright Places, contributing to her web magazine, Germ, thinking up new books, and dabbling in TV. She is always writing.

“You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.”

Love, Ysabel

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