March 14, 2015

Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Published: January 6th 2015 by Knopf
Pages: 388
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Illness
Source: Purchased
Format: Ebook
My Rating:
Buy it | Goodreads 
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 started out not liking this book. I found Finch very strange and Violet boring. As I progressed through I started to love it so much more then I expected, and I really connected to the story. A heartbreaking tale that I found nothing like Eleanor and Park meeting The Fault in Our Stars.

Lets talk about some of my favorite things:

“There’s no rush of having survived, only emptiness, and lungs that need air, and wet hair sticking to my face.”
“And then I go up to my room, climb onto a chair, and contemplate the mechanics of hanging. The problem is that I’m too tall and the ceiling is too low. There’s always the basement, but no one ever goes down there, and it could be weeks, maybe even months, before Mom and my sisters would find me.”
“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. That’s all on me too.”
“The thing I know about bipolar disorder is that it’s a label. One you give crazy people. I know this because I’ve taken junior-year psychology and I’ve seen movies and I’ve watched my father in action for almost eighteen years, even though you could never slap a label on him because he would kill you. Labels like “bipolar” say This is why you are the way you are. This is who you are. They explain people away as illnesses.”
I'm going to stop myself with the quotes, because I could keep going with Finch forever. The way he viewed the world and his death was so mechanical sometimes, but at other times he was able to find beauty in the most unique things. I related to him so much more than I thought I would and he left me with my heart broken and tears in my eyes. For me, Finch is a Twenty One Pilots album. I can relate practically every single song from them to him. I cannot explain how vivid my mental picture of him was and how deep my understanding and love for him went.

All the Bright Places also exemplifies the struggles that teens have to face in trying to find themselves  while dealing with labels and bullying, in some cases, in such a legitimate way.

Violet wasn't anything special to me. I found the "lost her sister in a tragic accident" trope not done in a very unique way and I couldn't connect to Violet as I did Finch. The final chapters in Violets point of view even bored me a tad. I did enjoy her development, but the true heart of the story was Finch.

I am extremely glad All the Bright Places is soon to become a major motion picture because seeing this on the big screen, a grittier tale of teenagers dealing with death and suicide in such a real way is something that needs to be seen. It surely has the potential to impact many people if done the right way.

This new trend of YA authors addressing these previously untouched topics in a much more realistic light is extremely enjoyable for me. I enjoy reading gritty stories about characters struggling with these intense, very serious mental illnesses because it is when I relate the most to them, and for me I tend to enjoy books much more when I can identify with the characters.

“The thing I realize is, that it's not what you take, it's what you leave.”
― Jennifer Niven, All the Bright Places

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