All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All the bright places

All the Bright Places

 

■Synopsis (Excerpt from 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.

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.

■ My Thoughts (it might include some spoilers)

I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

This is such an intense, compelling novel. I went into this book without knowing anything about the synopsis and I was so astonished to find how intense and compelling this book was. It literally blew my mind.

This book has an incredibly strong second half.
That is not to say the first half is weak -nothing could be further from the truth in fact – it’s got a nice, engaging first half, it’s just the latter half – in particular, from around 225 pages mark – left much big of an impact on me. I literally ate this book up. I couldn’t, didn’t want to put it down. I wanted to keep reading, I just didn’t want this book to end.

The writing is so explicit. I don’t think it’s all beautiful or flowery,  but it’s got a strong ‘draw’ to it; something that makes the readers keep reading once it captures their hearts. At least it got mine. overall.
I felt some parts a bit slippery and off though. It was like it was all getting pretty close, building up the tension toward the highest point and I was kind of expecting it to explode, yet failing to hit my notes at the most crucial moments, leaving me feel a bit underwhelmed.
I also had a slight issue with the style in which the story is narrated. This book is in dual perspectives, so each chapter is narrated either by Finch or Violet. It might have been only me, but I sometimes lost track of who the narrator was and got confused. It often happened that I read over a page feeling something amiss and then I found that I had been following the story through the wrong point of view.
Yet overall, it was really well-written, incredibly evocative and more than anything, visceral. In particular, I didn’t even realize that I was doing so myself, but I was holding my breath while I was reading the last 100 pages or so. That was where the story really picks up, getting more complex, and where we’d start to see SOMETHING SNAP inside Finch and things get spin out of control.

The descriptions depicting this portion of the story was just brilliant. I could easily visualize, or imagine how Finch’s circuits in his brain are firing up in all directions and how he gets swallowed in the darkness slowly and steadily. I even felt my head spinning; I felt as though I was smothered by emotions.
By that point, I got so invested in Finch’s character, it was so painful and hard to keep reading. I literally didn’t want to see anything bad happen to him any more because he had already gone through enough.

Finch was a really fleshed-out character. He’s quirky at a glance, adopting a different persona by dressing differently and talking differently depending on his mood.
I couldn’t really find any decisive factor that makes him ‘different’ as he is painted, but I definitely see how his thoughts wander off and how complex his character is. On top of all that, he’s incredibly sensitive, fragile and vulnerable. He is like a ticking time bomb waiting to go off; I got to feel his inner struggles and emotional process through his voice and it was just brilliant.
And his voice – HIS VOICE. I fell in love with his voice. Whatever words that come from him rang through me and captivated me; I was in the clutches of his words. I simply can’t get enough of it.
On the other hand, I found Violet was a bit weak compared to Finch. It doesn’t feel right to say this, but her struggles and depression since the accident didn’t appeal to me as much, they didn’t feel strong enough. But I really enjoyed how she develops herself and gets back on her feet through the wander and the interactions with Finch. The dynamics between those two main characters and its development was such a delight to read through.

That is all the more reason why I was so stunned when I found what happens to them in the latter part. I couldn’t read the remaining 40 pages without crying.
That was the last thing I wanted to happen. For me, it was like a nightmare coming true. I cried over Violet’s words and compunction from then onwards. Every time she reflects back and wonders what could have been done to make him last – I cried. Her words cut through my heart.
Although I’m kind of content with how she gets over what’s happened and how the closure arrives, it’s still poignant and heart-breaking. It just hurts.

This is not a feel-good fluffy YA; it deals with some serious issues like depression, suicide, and bullying – how small a thing that we consider inconsequential and nothing can push others over the edge. We can get a glimpse of what could be going on inside the brains of someone with mental illness through the voice of Finch, and I really appreciate that.

That said, it wasn’t that I didn’t have any issue with this book; as far as mental illness goes, the thing that didn’t sit well with me was that Finch didn’t confide in anyone with his true emotions and issues that plagued him. Rather than asking for help from experts and professionals, he chose to bottle up his feelings and took the matters into his own hands, which kind of bothered me; to be honest, I was a bit frustrated, thinking thing could have ended up differently if he had let someone in on what was actually going on.

Other than that, I really enjoyed reading this book. This book really affected me emotionally and I loved that.

This is really a poignant story, you may feel sick in the stomach, or end up crying your eyes out (like I did) but this is also an amazingly beautiful book. This is my type of book, this is my jam.

In my personal opinion, this is way better than The Fault in Our Stars. Hands down.

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2 thoughts on “All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

  1. I was afraid to read the whole thing because of the potential spoilers, but hopefully I’ll manage to read it soon(ish) so that we can compare our opinions 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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