All The Bright Places, Jennifer Niven
I love a good book review, and although I don’t think many people pay much attention to other’s reviews when they’re considering whether to read a book or not, they’re really fun to write and I find some of them so funny to read!
I’m not going to go through the plot and end up writing a synopsis rather than a review – basically, reviews should be people’s opinions in my mind – if you’re interested in finding out the entire plot, Google is your friend.
Here’s the Good Reads description of All The Bright Places:
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.
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.
Okay, so although I said I wasn’t going to give much of the plot away, that description sums up the plot relatively well! The first thing I want to say about this book is this:
You need to give this book a chance.
I will be honest, at first, I wasn’t really too into it. I picked it up as it’s said to be a good read for fans of Jay Asher or John Green, so I thought I’d give it ago. John Green novels are hard ones to escape, and almost everyone’s familiar with the basic plot of The Fault In Our Stars – the theme in All The Bright Places is certainly similar, but it definitely holds it’s own out in the Young Adult (YA) genre. If you’re thinking of reading, my advice would be to completely forget John Green or Jay Asher and concentrate on reading All The Bright Places while not comparing it to other YA books.
Finch is quirky yet charming and in my head I imagine him to be a bit of a hottie. He’s the underdog. He likes to change the way he dresses depending on how he’s feeling. He plays guitar, he writes songs. He doesn’t have Facebook. He’s also, obviously, rather unpopular at school – labelled as “freak” by the jocks and more popular kids.
All except Violet. She is popular, her boyfriend is the most popular guy in school; but just like a normal person, she has her own issues to contend with, and that would explain why both Finch and Violet find themselves up on the bell tower roof at the same time with that dark intention of suicide.
On the roof, Finch talks Violet out of jumping, as a result he ends up having a strange feeling that he’s somehow “responsible” for her safety from now on. The two eventually become friends, and those “natural wonders” that the Good Reads description talks about bring the two together in the most wonderful of ways. Two people who appear to the outside would to be opposites end up being the same.
The book becomes a great resource of inspiration, beholding wonders and beautiful places. Seeing the lovely things in other people, being patient and understanding of one another, realising that when you see something ugly, it’s probably beautiful to someone else. Pretty much, although the main plot gets rather sad, it has a lot of positive messages.
The vast majority of the book is full of wonder, beauty and heart warming ‘squishiness’. It made me smile and laugh a lot. And if I am being honest with you, I think All The Bright Places changed something in me. I felt happy, sad, melancholy and inspired all at the same time. I found these mix of emotions very hard to process and the whole novel really did get me thinking.
Jennifer Niven includes some Author’s Notes at the end which really explain where this story comes from. Reading about the inspiration and idea behind All The Bright Places just added to this emotional chaos that was forming in my head.
Yes, the plot is predictable and yes, Young Adult books certainly aren’t for everyone, but I just couldn’t put All The Bright Places down. There are such wonderful moments that made me feel jealous of Violent and Finch’s lives and all the wonderful things they’ve managed to see and do together. I’m so glad I decided to stick with this one and read it right until the end, it’s truly a book that’s changed the way I look at life.
I would recommend if:
- You’re a YA genre fan, or you like the works of Jay Asher/Rainbow Rowell/John Green/Gayle Forman/Jenny Downham.
- You fancy seeing the good in people and after a little bit of an inspirational journey.
- You like a good source of motivational and somewhat poetic quotes.
My Good Reads rating is 5 out of 5 because I just loved it so much and I have such praise for this book, I have already recommended it to a bunch of people.
Note: I’m doing the Good Reads 2015 Challenge! I’m so far behind on my target, and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to find the time to complete it by the end of the year, but if you want to see what I have read so far/what I want to read/what I am currently reading, head over to my Good Reads Profile! My “read” books are the books I’ve read so far this year, not my books of all time!
If you’ve liked reading this post, how about checking out my Insurgent, by Veronica Roth book review, or reading about Mine and Luke’s Top 3 Books of All Time that we listed for International Literacy Day.