Book Review: All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Synopsis:All The Bright Places

Title – All The Bright Places  (Website, Goodreads, Amazon)

Author – Jennifer Niven (Website, Goodreads)

Published – January 6th 2015

Classification – Young Adult

Summary – When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom… Soon it’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself. And it’s only with Finch that Violet forgets to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

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Thoughts:

I picked this book up on CD and listened to it in my car. I was immediately drawn to the characters. Finch had such a funny way of viewing things at first. However, as the story went on I became a bit more cynical.

I’d like to make it clear right now that, in this review, I am only talking about my enjoyment while reading (listening) to this story. I think the topic of this book is important and in no way do I want to downplay the way the characters thought about themselves, others, and suicide. The themes and takeaways about the topic are not to be taken lightly.

However, if I merely talk about my enjoyment of this story, I’d give it less stars. I’ve realized I enjoy books and stories more when there is a strong lead character. I love reading stories where the characters fight to get what they have. I would have loved it if Finch and Violet recognized that something was wrong and did something about it! They don’t have to be “better” or have completely beaten the mental illness, but PUT UP SOME SORT OF FIGHT! I didn’t enjoy All The Bright Places because they just…were; they didn’t do anything. They just lived their life and didn’t try to get help – and therefore I felt incredibly frustrated at them!

And why are the adults who make it clear that they are there for Finch and Violet are completely blown off by them? Why didn’t Finch or Violet listen to the guidance councilor who was trying to help them? I get that not all councilors or adults have a good way of connecting with individuals their age but how is not communicating going to help anyone?

Additionally, I dislike how Violet treats Finch when she is around her peers. I get it – the idea is that she is the classic high-schooler who cares what her friends think – but my point is that I’d rather read about how she recognizes how wrong it is. Instead, Violet undergoes almost no transformation as a character in my opinion.

As far as Finch’s character – I’m not sure why people idolized him. Yes, in the beginning I thought he had an entertaining personality. But once he started to interact with Violet I found him very creepy. When a girl says no to sneaking out at night – don’t harass her!

It also bothered me that the adults in the book were almost nonexistent. How can their parents not care where they are at 2 in the morning? (Now looking at other reader’s comments, I guess this was a common complaint!)

All The Bright Places

This is the second story in a few months span that I’ve read about the topic of mental illness and suicide (the first was Thirteen Reasons Why). While I don’t exactly feel drawn to the topic since it is a sad theme (duh.),  I’d love to know if anybody recommends a good story with the theme of suicide?

Conclusion:

While the theme is not to be discussed lightly, if I critique the book on mere enjoyment of the story, it would be a thumbs-down for me.

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