Monday, 25 May 2015

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven review

Title: All The Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 6th January 2015
Length: 308 pages
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Format: Paperback, Hardback, Audio book, ebook
Source: Kindle Edition
Find the Book on Goodreads

'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.'.

There are so many things I want to say about this book. About how it's been the first YA book that I've ever read, that's resonated with me in such a strong way, since The Catcher in the Rye. I want to say that this is now one of my favourite books, and that I'll be buying it for everyone I know. I want to say that this book should be in every library, public, school or personal. I want to say that this is the best YA book I've read for years, since Looking For Alaska, and The Catcher in the Rye.

I want to say all this, but the one thing that I need to say, is that if you're going to read any book this year, let it be this one. If you've been waiting to read this book, don’t wait any more. Let this review be the sign that you need to, have to read it. Please.

The passages of the book from Finch's POV broke my heart. I've never cried at a book before (shocker, I know) and this is the closest I've come to crying. I actually had to stop reading for a while to stop myself, and get my heart and head together again. I never did cry while reading it, but I was close, and that is enough to know how great this book is. I still feel like crying now, writing this! Not that that is a bad thing, though - at all. In my opinion, the best books are the ones that get you so invested, and hit you in such a way, that you get emotional.

Never have I also read a book that has so accurately portrayed the mind of someone who is suffering from a mental illness - there was no pity or fancy airs with Niven in regards to Finch. He was himself, but he also has a mental illness, and I will always thank her for that, and for the character of Finch as a whole. When anyone ever asked me who my favourite book character was, it was always Holden Caulfield - now it is Holden and Finch, something I never thought any character would change.

The parts of the book written in his POV are especially honest, and emotional, and real - and that makes the book all the more worthy of so much praise. I can't spoil anything, so I won't say anything more about him. Just this: Thank you, Jennifer Niven, for writing about mental illness as something that you shouldn't be ashamed of. Thank you for showing your readers, through Finch, that mental illness should be talked about. Thank you for Theodore Finch.

Violet is an amazing character too - she is someone who you root for from the beginning, not just because of what she's been through, but because Niven had written her so that she is pure, and likeable, almost as if you're reading about one of your best friends. You root for her, because why wouldn't you? Because she was lost, and this book is her journey to finding herself again, and I loved seeing Violet bloom (haha, bloom) before our eyes, and becoming whole again. It was another dimension to the book that made it all the richer, and fuller, and better.

Their romance is lovely, too - usually in YA, I either feel it is too forced, or that the characters aren't meant for each other. But Violet and Finch just fit - their romance isn't cheesy - we read about them falling for the other as if we're watching two people enter a romance that was always meant to happen - and it's a perfect addition to a book that talks about serious themes, it makes everything else in the book so much more impacting, and lessens the blow, all at the same time.

Now I've finished it, I feel sort of empty, like I should carry on reading all about Violet's life at college, and everything else - it feels strange to not have anything else to read about any of the characters, the book was so immersing, it's literally taken me 3 days to read, I honestly couldn't wait to pick my Kindle up again and finish the book. But that said, the book itself was enough. This was a book that was not too long, or too short. You won't be wanting more, because Niven's writing is so rich and lovely that you won't need anything more. This is definitely a novel that will stay in my heart and thoughts for a long time, and I hope it will when you read it, too.

In short - this is a book for everyone. One about love, and taking pleasure in just wandering and discovering - but also, about how important it is to live, even if it means asking for help and support to help you get off that ledge, so that you can live properly, fully, without being scared of falling.



1 comment:

  1. Hi Chloe. You may remember some time ago that you mentioned this book to me during a conversation. Having heard so many positive reviews about the book since its publication, it had always been a book that I wanted to read. I hadn't got around to doing it, and so wanted to hold off reading your review of the book until I had finished it. I sit here now (yes, at 1am), having just finished the book, and a little cry, able to agree with everything you say about it. I absolutely loved the book, a real page turner - and now there are no more pages to turn....
    Having never read a book of this nature before I was worried, but it was eye opening and now leaves me with a better understanding towards mental illness. Jennifer Niven's thoughts/emotions conveyed through the characters are so wise, honest and passionate. The development of Finch and Violet's relationship is great too! The book was happy and sad, but has offered a chance to reflect on society's actions towards these issues more.

    Sorry if I stepped on your toes with what I wrote. But like you, I now love this book and hope that people take the time to read it! If you're able to recommend any other books, that would be great!

    Thank you for sharing! ☺️