Thursday, April 30, 2015

Book Review: All the Bright Places

Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Source: Purchased
Goodreads | Amazon 
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.
Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning!

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 Review

I should start off my review by stating that All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven did not make me cry like so many of the readers of this book, but I did get a little emotional. But only a tiny bit, which is shocking because I am a very emotional person. (If you're wondering what made me cry... I'll tell you... It wasn't the Violet/Finch stuff, but the Eleanor and Violet flashbacks.)

I expected all of the sad events that occur in this book to happen when I started reading it, and the strong foreshadowing confirmed my predictions. I guess it just left me with very little room to be sad because I knew what was coming. I had time to be sad while reading and to come to terms with the ending before I even got there. I couldn't really think after I finished reading, and I had a hard time analyzing everything about the book.

Nonetheless, Niven's novel is one that I was kind of unsure about after I closed the final page. I didn't know if I liked it or if it was just another book that I read without really feeling anything for any of the characters or plot or really anything. I was just lost, dazed, and confused. After sleeping it off, I decided that I liked the book. It's a different kind of book in the depression and suicide canon of books, and I'm glad that I was finally able to get to the book.

At times, I was bored with the writing. It's not that the book is wordy or poorly written because it's not; the prose just got on my nerves because sometimes it's catchy, and other times it's a bit boring. It just left me dumbfounded because both Finch and Violet of supposed to be fans of words and how they can be arranged in writing and speech. Sometimes, I felt like the word choices could have been a lot better to really make it a beautifully outstanding piece of writing.

Unfortunately, the characters didn't really stand out to me like I thought they would, but I still liked them. I feel like I'll remember them for a while, but soon, they will just be distant memories that I will have to revisit. Finch threw me off guard because he's just so out there. Sometimes I loved him, and other times, I hated him. At times, I thought he was pompous, especially when he and Violet first meet, but then I grew to like him and then dislike him and then like him again. It was like an endless cycle of figuring him out, but I was okay with that because it's truly representative of his depression. I was conflicted about how I felt about him, and I still am. On the other hand, I had a better connection to Violet. Her back story was better explained, and I really felt her sadness and I understood it. Therefore, I was able to get inside of her head a little better and really get to know her.

I'm thinking the only thing that really left me hanging about this book is that I really wanted to know more about Violet's sister, Eleanor. It's just plain old human curiosity to wander, and I wanted to know everything about this situation. Eleanor a huge reason as to why Violet is the why she is. Besides... I'm just such a sucker for stories about sisters and would have loved to have seen more about her included.

So did I like this book? Yes. I really did, but it just wasn't a spectacular read for me. Will I read other YA titles from Niven if she writes them? Absolutely. This one was good, and I hope that one day one of hers will be great for me. I'm glad that Niven was able to tell a story like this (apparently very similar to one that she went through) because the world really needs it. You never know when someone is suffering, and she does a great job at showing how depression and other mental health problems are invisible illnesses. 

All the Bright Places is Jennifer Niven's first book for young adult readers, but she has written four novels for adults - American Blonde, Becoming Clementine, Velva Jean Learns to Fly, and Velva Jean Learns to Drive - as well as three nonfiction books, The Ice Masters, Ada Blackjack, and The Aqua Net Diaries, a memoir about her high school experiences.

Although she grew up in Indiana, she now lives with her fiance and literary cats in Los Angeles, which remains her favorite place to wander.



  1. I see this one at my book store every time I go! I've been wanting to buy it for awhile but I keep putting off because I'm just not sure! I'll probably wait a little while longer. Great review!

  2. I bought it a while ago because so many people were raving about it. I'm kind of bummed that I didn't like it as much as they did, but it's an okay book. If you end up reading it, let me know how you liked it.

    Thanks, Michelle! :)

  3. I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND. YOU ARE NOT THE BLACK SHEEP. To be honest I also connected more with Violet rather than Finch, AND I DIDN'T CRY. I still thought it was an amazing read though :)

  4. I definitely want to read this one because of the issues it tackles. But I also fear that it won't hold my attention, if you get me? I'm a fan of lyrical writing which I hear this one has but I'm a little weary of the fact that it was off and on. Definitely will think a little more before picking this one up. Fantastic review, Erin! x

  5. Yay! I'm so glad I'm not alone. I was feeling like this one was really going to make me be the outcast in the YA world, especially because of my TFIOS feelings.

  6. It's definitely worth reading; I just wish I could have got more out of it. I completely understand because sometimes I read for a while because it was good, but other parts just weren't.

    Thank you!

  7. Great review. I’m curious about this book and all the hype, so I’m probably going to read it this summer.

  8. Is it terrible that I'm a bit happy when I see people discussing the flaws of this book? I respect Niven for all of the praise (and I agree she is an author to watch) BUT I really wish other reviews were as balanced as yours.

    I have a theory that the book would have worked better with a radically different structure (which I explain in my spoiler-filled review so I will link instead of leaving a comment that could ruin the book for someone:

  9. No - that isn't terrible at all, Emma! I love when I see people point out the flaws in books, and I guess this one just really got to me (in a different way) because I kind of have a connection to it.

    Thanks! I tried so hard to make sure that this review wouldn't offend anyone because I know people are in love with this book. :)

    I am heading over now! I think I avoided it when I first saw it on your blog as I tend to avoid reviews for books I haven't read yet.

  10. Thank you, AJ! I hope you let me know what you think of it when you read it. :)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.