Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Tuesday, 23 June 2015
Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Release Date: January 6th, 2015
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Violet Markey and Theodore Finch are two completely different people attending the same school. Finch is the "Freak" who is bullied on a daily basis and spends his days thinking about death and the various different methods of suicide. Violet is one of the popular kids who has her future mapped out and is eager to graduate to get away from the town where her sister recently died in a car accident. Violet and Finch meet on the ledge of the bell tower at their school where both are contemplating jumping. Once Violet realises what is happening, she panics and Finch rescues her from falling over. To save her reputation, he claims that she was the one who saved him. In return, Violet pairs with him on a geography project and this marks the beginning of their relationship.
Violet and Finch are both struggling emotionally. They both feel a bit lost and need something, or someone, to help them find the brightness in their life. They are that person for each other.
The story is told in alternating perspectives and having a male perspective was refreshing. It was also refreshing that he wasn't portrayed as a typical YA male. He's not popular, he doesn't have loads of friends, he's not an athlete. He is smart and thoughtful and thinks about things differently than his peers do.
I liked the way the mental illness was explored. It didn't focus on labelling someone with an illness but rather on the root causes of the illness. Family life is explored as well as coping mechanisms for dealing with the emotional struggles. It's not clinical and I think that makes it much more relatable as the focus is on the people rather than what the people are labelled as.
Whilst I liked the overall message, I just didn't find myself connecting to the characters as much I was supposed to. Actually, I liked Finch. He's different from everyone else and really struggling with his feelings and I felt for him a lot. I just didn't really feel anything for Violet. I thought she was quite boring and she doesn't really do anything to stand out. She does develop throughout the book in that she starts to get better and come to terms with her sister's death but when she's "back to herself" she is still a little dull to me. Maybe it's because Finch is such an outlandish character that my expectations were too high for Violet. Or that she's supposed to complement Finch being so outgoing. Either way, I enjoyed reading Finch's perspective much more than Violet's.
The writing is good but I do have a bit of a pet hate for books that like to quote classic literature and poetry, and whilst the selections do fit in well here, I just personally don't like them. The emotional ending does pull at the heartstrings but overall I have enjoyed similar books more than this one.