Monday, December 22, 2014

Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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I received this book for free from Random House Children's Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer NivenAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on January 6th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: Random House Children's Books
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The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this compelling, exhilarating, and beautiful 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.

This is the sort of story that kinda sneaks up on you. You’re not sure what kind of book it is at first – especially if you’re like me and don’t brush up on the blurb beforehand. It seems intense and gritty and even a tad confusing. You notice right away that the characters are definitely messed up with deep rooted issues they need to work on. Then there’s romance and profound conversations and soul searching and what seems to be a light at the end of this dark, dreary tunnel. Then, BAM!


Well ok don’t get too agitated, it takes a while until reality crashes down – almost at the end, really, but it basically changes the whole meaning of the book. At least it did for me. One thing this book does is open your eyes to the realities of living with a mental disorder. A label. A thing that you can’t see or control, but it defines you – if you let it. You’re never quite sure what’s wrong with Finch, but you know there’s something, and it’s unstable. He’s had a rough childhood, raised by abusive father and a mother who seems to not really question his bizarre behaviours. It’s incredibly sad, really. Heartbreaking and eye opening. He’s so messed up, yet no one cares enough to even realize this is bigger than simple teenage angst.

Despite his issues, Finch can be so spontaneous and fun, he sees the good in things, makes life into an adventure. He’s definitely a compelling character; intelligent and blunt. His strangeness made me like him all the more. He doesn’t know who he is, so he tries all kinds of styles – from 80s Finch to badass Finch. He doesn’t let the side glances and rumours get to him all that much, he takes every day in stride and that made me respect him. Though I assure you he doesn’t take any crap either. He can take care of his own, even if he goes a bit on the extreme at times. Violet is also a very well developed characters, but I didn’t find her quite as interesting as Finch. I also had a hard time distinguishing her voice from his during the POV switches. I had to keep reminding myself which perspective we were reading. I also found it very odd that she was the only one in her family who seemed to be affected by grief. Yes she lost a sister, but her parents lost a child mere months ago and you would never have known. For how caring and involved they were it felt unrealistic to me. That’s the only part I would raise an eyebrow at, however. The rest of the novel is written with such raw power, such realism, that you can truly insert yourself in these character’s lives and feel what it feels like to be so… broken.

The only other minor complaint is that the pacing could be off at times. The story would come to a halt and make you wish the shoe would just drop, you know. But then it does… I do highly recommend it for contemporary fans. The novel as a whole is emotionally gritty, character driven, and psychologically intense – I mean think about it, it’s got a fragile narrator who can’t even be trusted to live.


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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17 Responses to “Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven”

  1. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I’ve been seeing lots of positive reviews for this book, Giselle. I’m not sure it’s my kind of read but I’m glad that the author tackled mental health issues. They are so important, especially today!
    Lovely review! 🙂

  2. Rashika

    So I am going to have to wait until the end for the part that changes everything??? NOOOO. That makes it so much harder to resist the book, Giselle. WHY MUST YOU TEMPT ME SO?

    I already kind of love Finn though! Considering how much he’s been through, I love that he isn’t some wimpy kid, he takes it all in stride and stands up for himself! I also love that he is bizarre and trying to find himself. It makes him all the more intriguing! I feel like he’d definitely be a very fun character to get to know!

    I see what you mean about Violet’s parents though! That would seriously bother me. It’s always seems that in such situations in books, either the parents are so grieved they forget the existence of their other child or they kind of just brush it of. There never seems to be much of a middle ground *sigh*

    Lovely review, hon <3

  3. Pili

    Okay, I am not usually a contemporary lover, but you have made me so curious about this book now Giselle! I must add it to the wish list for sure!!
    Great review!

  4. Chyna @ Lite-Rate-Ture

    I had a good feeling that the pacing would be on and off because it was recommended to the fans of John Green and Rainbow. But I was still interested in reading it, I was denied in Netgalley huhu

    The book seems promising but I don’t think I’ll love it. It’s enough to like, but I naaaah HAHAH Thanks so much for sharing, though. As always lovely review, Giselle!

  5. Alexa

    This book seems really promising. I was a bit skeptical when it was compared to Eleanor and Park, but it seems that the story is a lot more compelling and works its way to promote a social message. I can’t wait to read it!

  6. Laura Plus Books

    I’m glad you liked this one overall! I can definitely understand how Violet’s sister’s death was a little unrealistic. Her parents seemed as though they were so over it but I guess they just wanted to hold up a brave face. The pacing was a little weird for me as well. It’d be slow and then bam crazy drama. I personally really loved the flow that created though. 😀

  7. Olivia

    I saw the review of a very trusted reviewer and this book literally blew her away. I can’t wait to try it. I know that I read a lot of books about disorders and some of them hit home more than others. I hope this one can do that for me.

  8. Mishma @ Chasing Faerytales

    I’ve wanted to read this book ever since I saw in it Goodreads.I was totally captivated by the cover and the blurb,and after reading your review now,I am dying to read this book now.
    I love myself a tearjerker and I think this will be perfect for me to get over my reading slump.