Review: All the Bright Places (*****)
It has been a while since my last book review. I thought I would get back at it with a book I really enjoyed: ‘All the Bright Places’ by Jennifer Niven. It has been described as a mix between ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ by John Green meets ‘Eleanor and Park’ by Rainbow Rowell, which are two of my favorite YA novels.
‘All the Bright Places’ tells the story of Theodore Finch and Violet Markey and it all starts on the ledge of the bell tower at their school. Theodore is obsessed with death, more specifically his own, and Violet is consumed with grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death. They are paired up for a school project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state. Finch helps Violet see beyond the grief for her sister and Violet helps Finch stay ‘awake’. As the school year unfolds Violet starts to get back into her life, Finch starts to slowly lose control again.
Like I said in the beginning, I really enjoyed this book. Although ‘enjoy’ might be the wrong word. I bawled my eyes out near the end and the book left me feeling gutted, but that was what I had expected from a John Green/Rainbow Rowell mash-up. To be honest, I would have been disappointed if I hadn’t needed tissues. The book is split up in different parts, each part switching narrator to either Violet or Finch. I thought this was really well done, giving you the ability to better understand what is happening when needed. In the end, it felt like it was more Violets story though, which means the shift of perspective is mostly to help deepen Finch’s character. However, I think I liked the parts told by Finch better, especially since his struggle was very well constructed.
The book deals with a lot of mental health issues and I thought it did so very well. Acknowledging the struggle someone can have with the stigma and shame that is often accompanied with mental health.
Overall, ‘All the Bright Places’ was an incredible book. If you are into sad YA, I would highly recommend it. I was a little afraid of the hype train, but it was well deserved.