Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Review: All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Publisher: Knopf 2015

Format & Page Count: eBook, 303 pages

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Date Read: February 7, 2015

Rating: 3/5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): 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.

My Thoughts: All the Bright Places is advertised as a cross between The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park, both of which I adore, so I was naturally curious about this book. This book basically follows the common contemporary love story plot of two characters with tragic back stories and opposing outlooks on life falling in love after a chance encounter. But of course these love stories can't be simple and happy, there has to be a dramatic and sad twist about two thirds of the way through the book that is supposed to make you burst into tears and grieve for the characters.

If you can't tell from my semi-sarcastic introduction, I did not love this book as much as I was promised. It was funny and cute and clever, but also predictable, expected, and over done. When it comes to contemporary love stories, I do not think this book really added anything new or exciting to the genre. It fell short of my expectations. I expected to be a pile of tears by the end, but I honestly was never hooked emotionally. There were moments when I felt a twinge of heartache, but there was no lasting effect from this book.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book, is the theme of mental illness and suicide. These are topics that I feel need to be expressed more in young adult literature, because many teens struggle with these things. If people read more books with characters facing similar struggles, they can connect and recognize that there is nothing wrong with who they are, which is a common issue teens face. While I commend the attempt at exploring these issues, I do not think it was done properly, but I can't get into the reasons why without entering spoiler territory. Basically, this book includes a suicidal character, but does little to promote teens with similar circumstances to seek help nor does it make it seem like things ever get better for a suicidal teen, which is important to write about. This book somewhat romanticizes suicide, which was problematic for me.

I do have to commend the author for her writing. I loved the characters and all the quirks they have. They seemed believable and I was even able to see some of myself in them. The way they communicated and their references to quirky things such as Virginia Woolfe and the Jovian-Plutonian gravitational effect. There were also many interesting facts and tidbits that I found extremely compelling, so I definitely enjoyed those little touches.

Overall, I did enjoy this book, but it definitely felt like the author was beating a dead horse with this overly cliche and tragic love story. I will definitely consider seeing the movie when it is released and would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick contemporary read.



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