Theodore Finch constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. That ‘something good’ is Violet Markey.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, crossing off each day on her calendar. Graduation is the day when she can escape her numbing grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, their worlds collide. It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself, not the ‘freak’ that the rest of the school has labelled him. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can start to move past her sister’s death and to start living the days that she so eagerly wanted to wish away. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
For me, this book is over-rated but that doesn’t mean that I hated it, I just don’t understand the hype.
Through the characters of Violet and Finch, debut author Jennifer Niven explores the world of mental-illness; in particular depression. It’s hard for authors of the young adult genre to fully portray the world of mental illnesses; Holly Bourne did it perfectly in Am I Normal Yet? but Niven somehow gets it to begin with and then loses her grip halfway through.
The description throughout the book of the characters however, is brilliant. Niven portrays Finch’s mood swings and personality changes incredibly and conveys beautifully his love for Violet. Niven’s portrayal of Violet is also magnificent but sometimes gets lost in the descriptions of Finch. There was so much more description of Finch’s dark place than Violet’s and I felt as if this was a shame because Violet’s voice needed to be heard as much as Finch’s.
Secondary characters such as Amanda Monk, Finch’s Dad and Violet’s parents could have had the spotlight shined on them a bit more too. Amanda’s character goes through a massive plot twist that I felt was completely overlooked bar a few sentences, Finch’s Dad was one of the causes of Finch’s depression and we only got a slither of a look as to why and Violet’s parents just seemed two-dimensional. They had no idea what was going on throughout the entirety of the book.
What I liked about the romance was that it wasn’t sexual, it was very endearing and romantic. The sexual moments of the relationship were suggested but not described and this worked very well since the one of the focusses of the book was how two people suffering can come together and help each other out.
People all over the internet are saying that if you love John Green, you will love this book. No. All The Bright Places is it’s own book and where it shares similarities to The Fault in our Stars, it also differs in the sense that I didn’t find it as captivating; The Fault in our Stars made me fall in love with the characters, All The Bright Places didn’t.
All The Bright Places was as stop-start read for me as I didn’t find myself as invested in the characters as I would have liked to be. When major occurrences happened in this novel, I didn’t find myself caring, I just turned the page like my life in that moment hadn’t been changed (no guys, I am not cold-hearted; I have cried and laughed at many many books). I wanted to feel happy for the characters and at times, I wanted to cry for them but I just couldn’t because I hadn’t made that connection with them.
This is an okay book but I felt like certain things got lost in the sea of the portrayal of mental illness. It’s nice to see more and more authors try and write about depression, OCD, eating disorders etc., but there’s a certain way to do it. I wasn’t captivated and it seemed too similar to John Green’s: The Fault in our Stars and Paper Towns and also Jay Asher’s: Thirteen Reasons Why.
I would recommend this book, purely because the ‘wanderings’ that Finch and Violet go on are fascinating and the romance between the two characters is magical, but I think it will be a long time before I read this book again.
Warning: this book contains triggers for depression such as discussions of suicide