A mostly Young Adult book review blog run by a mother and daughter team.
All it took was hearing the description for author Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places for my interest to be piqued. I hadn’t known what to expect but after hearing that the novel was being compared to pieces written by authors like John Green and Rainbow Rowell I had pretty high expectations. All the Bright Places was breathtaking. It was hopeful and heartbreaking and romantic and tragic all at once. The novel dealt with topics that I find authors tend to skim over but Niven tackled everything fearlessly. Twenty-four hours after having finished the novel and I am still reeling and facing serious heartache. This was a beautiful read.
Characters Theodore ‘Freak’ Finch and Violet Markey couldn’t be any more opposite. Finch is obsessed with death and entertains himself with the multiple thoughts of how he could potentially kill himself. Violet is still dealing with her own guilt and trying to move past the loss of her sister that has been haunting her ever since the accident that claimed her life. Both characters meet at the ledge of their school’s bell tower where the thought of escaping it all crosses both their minds. It’s a chance encounter but one that neither of them will ever forget.
Uncertain of who talked who down from the ledge, Violet and Finch find themselves to be partners in a school project. As the two begin to spend more of their days together a romance begins to bloom between them. It is only with each other where Violet and Finch can let go of their inhibitions and be themselves. But the attraction between them both is dangerous and while Violet does her best to include Finch into her life while also trying to maintain her life as a semi-popular girl in high school, there’s a darkness eating Finch alive that he can’t fight.
I hadn’t expected to fall for All the Bright Places as much as I had. There was something alluring about Finch’s character and I instantly connected with Violet’s character. Finch is humorous and has hurt and been hurt and above all he’s still caring. Violet has lost the person closest to her but she’s still standing strong and trying to find the ability to write again. Both of these characters played with my emotions. I loved them both, dearly. Niven didn’t waste any time by putting up walls around these characters minds while we read them in the first person. We get everything out in the open immediately. These characters felt real and it is seldom that characters are fleshed out in such a way.
Admittedly, it did take me a while to fall in love with All the Bright Places. The first quarter or so of the novel all felt like build-up to something more. I waited for things to get better which they did. The rest of the novel in its entirety was captivating. The development of Violet and Finch’s romance was adorable and exciting which made certain events all the more excruciating. After that first quarter of the novel the rest of the novel’s pacing was quick and kept me caught up in the plot and the details of Violet and Finch’s relationship.
All the Bright Places tackles depression and suicidal thoughts in a way that I believe is usually romanticized in most YA fiction. More than once All the Bright Places brought me to tears or had me crying like a baby because it all felt so, so real (a trend in this review). This is a novel that any readers who are fans of contemporary fiction need to read. It’s a novel that broke my heart and will stay with me for the rest of my days.
Readers who are fans of contemporary fiction need this book in their lives. Readers who are fans of romance and plot twists need this book in their lives. Readers who want to be put on an emotional rollercoaster need to check it out as well. This is a novel that changes you and one you won’t forget.