I received this book for free from Swap in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Published by Knopf on January 6th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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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.
I’m usually very wary of a book that claims to be “The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park” (I’ve been burned before) so I was a little apprehensive about this one. Maybe the tagline was the least of my problems.
To be honest, this novel is extremely difficult to read. You might be thinking, “But you gave it four stars! So you loved it, right?” And I did. Kind of. I think your experience with it will vary depending on your familiarity with mental illness. The biggest division among reviewers is that some people feel like Niven didn’t convey mental illness in the best way possible while others agree and/or relate with the way she approached her characters’ issues. While I can’t tell you if everything in the novel is an accurate representation of mental illness, I do think the overall message is important.
All the Bright Places is anything but bright. Instead, dark and freaking depressing come to mind. I knew that the novel wasn’t cheery but I wasn’t expecting such a downer. I felt anxious throughout and it put me in a weird mood. I was uncomfortable, sad, and a little mad to boot. I could argue that reading this is like stepping inside the minds of two people struggling with every aspect of life and that’s why I felt so disconnected from my life but I think it was more than that. I felt part of the story, like I was the one with the terrible parents and voices in my head. I hated that feeling. I went through every happy thing I could think of (Tangled and Pitch Perfect followed by a baking marathon) after I finished the novel because I wanted to get out of that mindset. However, this made me realize that some people can’t get out of that dark hole. It helped me understand that mental illness is very complex and that maybe it shouldn’t be represented in an easy-to-read way. Instead, the author took something that happened to her and made it so that you would feel the emptiness that you didn’t know you could feel. Again, I’m not sure if everything is correct and it definitely doesn’t apply to everyone but at least it tries to get the message across.
Even though I think the book is well-written and a very important read, I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. Like I said before, this novel is really dark. Keep this in mind before you pick it up.