Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Copy of Copy of Rewinding the Pages

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning!
 
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.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

Copy of Copy of Rewinding the Pages (1)

This was one of my recent adds to my TBR, but a comment Vivian pushed the book upwards on the list.

I instantly got hooked at the words ‘…meets Eleanor and Park’. And like I’ve written a million times before (this is an exaggeration, but it is deeply true), I am still in a search for a book that can give me what Eleanor & Park made me feel.

Okay, now I’m feeling a bit lost for words. I have mixed feelings about it—at one point some of the workings of the relationship irked me, but by the other point I think it turned out to be quite sweet. I’m going to bring it points again because I’m feeling the words going to mush in paragraphs.

Finch – Let’s start with the hero, shall we? Finch—or Theodore Finch—is a suicidal ‘goth’ boy who frequently changed and adopted personas along the course of the book—Badboy Finch, Nerd Finch, All-American Finch, etc. He supposedly had been having this ‘blackouts’ where he just, like, went off to ‘Asleep’. He also declared as being bipolar in the end—or at least diagnosed with it—actually attempted to kill himself and then sent off to attend a teen-suicide group.

When he first came into the picture, all chatty and grave, I thought—is this really the kid who is going to kill himself? Because I don’t think suicidal people can be that chatty—or maybe it’s just because I don’t know much about suicidal people. And also the way he made this gestures of to get people to pay him attention, how he sometimes like a know-it-all, I keep thinking, seriously?

Then he started targeting Violet—acknowledging her in the hall, choosing her to be his partner, being so direct at her with actually knowing her personally in the first place, being a bit happy-go-lucky at times—he reminded me a lot of this guy from By The Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead by Julie Ann Peters. The guy in that book is also the happy-go-lucky kind, showing up almost every day to the main character while she waited for her mother to pick her up. This guy also has something ‘death’ about him—he suffered from a disease, cancer, I think. I don’t remember. Both guys have this cheery personality hiding their death-related problems and also are instantly attracted to the heroine who just wished that he would just leave her alone. But despite her attempts, he would always run back to her. The difference is, the guy with the cancer is not chasing death—death is chasing him. And he was sort of sweet, I think, in an ‘I-have-no-boundaries’ kind of sweet. While Finch—he was asking for it.

But then they started going on these wanderings, they interact, they became more than friends, and then my opinion about Finch shifted. I initially thought of him as this weird, privy kid who did not understand the meaning of personal space. But as the story went on, I began to see him as this troubled guy who just wanted someone to understand him. His grand gestures, his ability to get Violet driving again, his late night chats—I actually thought he was kind of sweet. Plus, he’s tall. Okay, that’s irrelevant, but I like tall guys. Talking about bipolar disorders—yeah, I think I see where it is coming from.

Violet – Now the flower. My opinions of her were bare until somewhere in the middle of the book. At first, I thought she was just plain despite the description that she has a flower-smelling hair, curves, and ex-cheerleader and so on. But halfway through the story, I think she began to sound too perfect—Mary-Sue-perfect. Maybe it’s the jealousy inside me speaking, but yes, I think she was too perfect to be true. She’s practically flawless—nice looks, great body (being an ex-cheerleader et al), friends, supportive and loving parents, doting sister, boyfriend, successful hobby, cute ex-boyfriend and another boy chasing after her—except for the fact that her sister had just died from a car accident that left her with ‘Extenuating Circumstances’. Also how easy it was for her to get people to contribute to her new webzine—yeah, too picture perfect.

Anyways, let’s stop talking about the characters for once.

Plot – Finch and Violet finally got to properly know each other by going on a project assigned by their teacher, courtesy of Finch himself. This is a common trope to make the story go into how the characters met, but it sounded too cheesy, too easy, too neat, too…unnatural. In short, too forced. I’m not a fan of these kinds of meetings.

Then the wanderings played out and then the relationship began to look natural. Take a skip to the part where they began to wander more than the project required—you can feel the real relationship building from then on. I love their night-time chats, their nocturne walks, their wanderings—every of it, up until it took an ugly turn. And the Bookmobile wander *gush* it sounds like a total dream date—an every bookworm’s wet dream! Also Violet’s life pre-Eleanor’s-death—that also counts as a bookworm’s dream come true with massive book hauls and stuff.

But one thing that has bugged me—why did Finch and Violet want to kill themselves? What drove them over the edge? What has been clouding their heads so much that they just want to eliminate themselves from the world? Their reasons here didn’t work out enough for me. Their current reason is not strong enough to make them wishing for death.

Notable quotes:

“You deserve better. I can’t promise you I’ll stay around, not because I don’t want to. It’s hard to explain. I’m a fuckup. I’m broken, and no one can fix it. I’ve tried. I’m still trying. I can’t love anyone because it’s not fair to anyone who loves me back. I’ll never hurt you, not like I want to hurt Roamer. But I can’t promise I won’t pick you apart, piece by piece, until you’re in a thousand pieces, just like me. You should know what you’re getting into before getting involved.” – Theodore Finch

“I know life well enough to know you can’t count on things staying around or standing still, no matter how much you want them to. You can’t stop people from dying. You can’t stop them from going away. You can’t stop yourself from going away either. I know myself well enough to know that no one else can keep you awake or keep you from sleeping.” – Theodore Finch

In conclusion, this book could have been a sweet, romance novel purely based on the interactions between our two lovebirds. But incoherent reasons for death and suicidal thoughts chased the perfection away.

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Rewinding the Pages (2)

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

  1. This looks like a really good book! Might start reading this for the summer if I can find a copy 😀

    Thank you for your comments on my blog!
    Nicole ᵔᴥᵔ | florrall.blogspot.co.uk

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