Review

All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places

by Jennifer Niven

Genre: YA Contemporary, YA Romance
Published: January 6th, 2015
by Knopf Books for Young Readers

three-half-stars

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Summary:

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.

Review:

The thing I realize is that it’s not what you take, it’s what you leave.

I’ll admit it flat out – I was incredibly suspicious of this book. The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park? That’s a pretty hefty marketing comparison to pull, and I suppose you can’t blame me for being wary. However, Cait persuaded me to give it a try, and I am so glad she did.

All the Bright Places is about two broken individuals coming together and healing each other. No one knows for certain what exactly happened that day or who saved who, but when Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet on the top of their school’s bell tour – both pondering the great end – there is an undeniable spark between the two. And the more they get to know each other, the more they both realize how invaluable they are to each other.

All the Bright Places is completely raw and honest. Jennifer Niven doesn’t shy away from discussing difficult or hard topics. Suicide, mental illness, feeling alone and grief are all discussed in a detailed, sincere way; and I really appreciated how that was done.

Yet, it’s the characters who truly make this novel come alive and infest it with energy and realism.

Violet is traumatized by her older sister’s death in an automobile accident. Since then, she has stopped writing and given up cheerleading – two of her biggest passions – because they remind her too much of her sister. She refuses to get in a car again, forcing herself to walk everywhere she goes. You can immediately sympathize with Violet and her grief.

Theodore, however, is the complete opposite. Charismatic and charming, he also happens to be the class clown and is prone to trouble. However, he has a secret: he suffers from View Spoiler », and his world shrinks a little every day.

View Spoiler »

Together, however, is where the two shine. With Theodore, Violet learns to overcome her grief; and with Violet, Theodore feels…special. The romance between the two is slow and gradual, and absolutely fabulous. You can truly see the chemistry between them, and it all feels so realistic.

And that ending?

image

A bit too rushed for my liking, but definitely provocative and thought-provoking regardless.

All in all, come its publication in January, I definitely believe All the Bright Places will be a hit with teens with its gritty and honest storytelling. And while it certainly wasn’t perfect, I did find it an important and well-executed reading experience regardless.

three-half-stars

78 thoughts on “All the Bright Places

  1. I’ve heard good things about All the Bright Places on Goodreads, and initially I was hesitant to read this book as well. After reading your review, though, I might just have to give this one a try- Theodore and Violet sound like a great couple, after all!Nice review Zoe, I loved the strong analysis! (Plus the gif is to die for :D)

    Claire @ Cover to Cover

  2. This sounds like a great book. It’s good that the author handled all of those really serious issues well because if written wrong, those books can be a little bit iffy. It also seems like the characters are both very unique, and therefore, really fun to read about. Awesome review!

    1. I completely agree Ana. 🙂 Sensitive issues can always be interpreted the wrong way, but I felt Niven handled it nicely here. 🙂 Thank you!

  3. I’m glad you liked this one! It seems that the flaws could be overlooked, and I am eager to meet the characters. I love realistic characters, and when they are like the life of a novel.

    I’ll have to get my hands on this sometime in the future. GREAT review, Zoe! 🙂

    1. They definitely can Naban. 🙂 Everything else is wonderful, and they’re relatively minor, so it doesn’t have too much impact on your enjoyment. I look forward to seeing what you think of it when / if you read it!

  4. Zoeeee, you can’t just leave a spoiler in the midle of your review! It was so, so hard to resist. Anyway, I’ll just wait for more reviews to come in before I do decide on reading it! It sounds good and all, but I’m always wary until I’ve seen a ton of reviews.

    1. I completely hear you joy. It’s definitely hard to enjoy books when they have such similar premises to ones you already know.

  5. I freaking loved this book! I finished it yesterday and am still trying to get all my thoughts and feelings together about it. I think I loved it more than you did but either way, I am so happy to see you tried this and liked it!

  6. Actually, I’ve heard of this book before, and I think I put this on my “no-thanks” shelf because of the part of the summary; ” he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself.” (I’m not angry at suicidal teenagers, I watched a really bad indie movie of a suicidal teenager, and let’s just say that I was traumatized. ) but with your review Zoe, I think I need to give this book a shot. You got me at the description “raw”

    BTW! Sorry for not being around a lot huhu. 🙁 UNI is still keeping me busy and I’ve not commented a lot. Hope to see more of you! 😀 Advance Merry Christmas! 😀

    1. I completely understand where you’re coming from Jules. 🙂 It’s such a sensitive topic, and can definitely go the wrong way if not done correctly. 🙂

  7. Where have I been, I totally missed the change! Your blog looks great and I love the new name!

    It sounds like the two characters really give each other strength, I think it’s easy to root for a relationship like that. Definitely going to check this one out!

  8. Great review! This is one of those books where I keep on hearing so many good things about, so I know I’ll probably be buying it on the day it’s released in bookstores. 😉 I don’t think it’s really my thing, but I guess I’ll never know unless I try it. Endings that are rushed do frustrate me a bit though. xD

  9. Zoe I saw this in Netgalley the other day, and I wanted to request it, but then lol I don’t reside in the US. BUT WOW – your review makes me want to read it. I honestly love reading stories about people with very personal problems because it gives me a better insight with regards to those kinds of people. Thank you so much for sharing this review! I really want to read it now ^.^

    1. Ugh…international territory rights. :angry: I hope you end up being able to get your hands on a copy of it, and I look forward to seeing your thoughts when you do. 😀

  10. “All the Bright Places is about two broken individuals coming together and healing each other.”
    That sounds a bit like Say what you will, which is one of my favorite contemporaries. I like those type of stories, so you pretty much hooked me with that sentence! For some reason, I always fall for the somewhat.. darker and heavier contemporaries.

    1. It is a bit like Say What You Will, especially in that regard. I know you liked that one, so I hope you feel the same way about this one. 🙂

  11. Whaaaat? I didn’t know your blog went through name and design change :O It looks pretty, Zoe! I don’t think this book is for me tbh because I hated both of those books, especially TFiOS. E&P was 2 stars for me so that isn’t promising either =/ I’m glad to hear that important topics are discussed. I can’t even imagine how this would affect someone so I already feel for Violet. Yikes! Theodore doesn’t have it easy either, does he? I’m glad you liked this book as a whole regardless of it being rushed. Great review, Zoe!

    1. Thank you Siiri! 😀

      If it’s not your cup of tea, I’d definitely still say to give it a try. I’m curious to know what you think. 😀

  12. It’s so great that this ended being a true and honest story. When I heard about it I was sceptical as well. Like you said, TFIOS meets E&P? Not likely.

    But your review is so heartfelt and beautiful, Zoe. I will be looking into this one more closely. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  13. Gah, I was just suspicious about this book because…I didn’t enjoy any of the books that it’s compared to. That being said, I’m kind of curious about this one. I mean, lyrical writing is my biggest weakness in life and I can’t go past this one. But now that you’ve mentioned it, I kind of want to see the raw energy of this book you know? I want to see this characters come together and create something beautiful. WONDERFUL REVIEW, ZOE! <3 It's just gorgeous, everything that you've said. A pity about the pace but you win some, you lose some, right?

  14. ZOE! Your blog is looking good! And new name! I love it! Love the new design too, so pretty and bright! Very different from the last one 🙂

    I’m not a big fan when a book compares itself to a hit too but I’m glad you gave this one a chance Zoe and it actually paid off for you.I love books that are character driven and this one sounds like it did a great job doing that, even though the ending’s a bit rushed.Lovely review Zoe, I miss you and your blog! <3

    1. Thanks Amir! :blush: That means so much!

      It’s always eyebrow-raising when a book compares itself to other books, especially if those books are as well-regarded and as popular as TFIOS and E&P, but I think this definitely deserves the comparison. 🙂

      Thank you – I miss you too! 😥

  15. I was a little wary of this because I wasn’t huge fans of the two books All the Bright Places has been compared to, but I love the sound of this. “…completely raw and honest” and “about two broken individuals coming together and healing each other” sounds like the kind of contemporaries I love to read. And I’m really, really curious about that ending – even if I have the feeling it’ll probably kill my feels. Great review, Zoe!

    1. To be honest, I was actually a bit meh about E&P and TFIOS as well so I was skeptical for the same reasons. This being said, definitely still give this a try despite that – I think you’ll end up enjoying it. 😉 Thank you!

  16. This read sounds incredibly emotional and amazing, I can’t wait to pick it up! I’d be picking it up around the New Year or so. It sounds like a difficult read, but their friendship sounds lovely and healing.

    Awesome review hun!

  17. I love any book that has broken individuals because it makes my hurt heart and I live to torture myself! *snickers* But I hate rushed endings…it can make everything seem anticlimactic, you know? However, despite the flaws…the story seems worthy of being read! Fabulous review. 🙂

  18. I could have sworn you would have fallen in love with this one Zoe, but I couldn’t have said it better myself, raw and honest. Gosh, I was a complete mess reading this. Sobbing, snotty tears. I think there may have even been a ‘WHHHHHY’ in there too. Where John Green and Rainbow Rowell almost romanticise illness and social issues, this one doesn’t. It’s balls to the wall kind of gritty and it’ll be one of THE books of 2015 without a doubt. I absolutely loved it and may never find anything close to making me feel as much as this one did.

    Brilliant review Zoe <3

    1. Such an emotional read, no?

      Where John Green and Rainbow Rowell almost romanticise illness and social issues, this one doesn’t.

      BINGO! I’ve always tried to pinpoint what exactly I don’t like about Green & Rowell’s books, but I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with that point. 😀

  19. I disliked TFIOS and haven’t read Eleanor & Park yet but I do know that those comparisons are usually full of crap. I’m so excited to read this book because it’s sounds super amazing and your review just made me more excited. Brilliant Review!

    1. That was how I felt too Anna, but despite being meh about those two, I still adored this one. 😉 Thank you – so glad you’re intrigued!

  20. I’ve heard absolutely nothing negative about this. That’s sure a first! I loved John Green’s books, but I did feel like he romanticized cancer a bit. It’s a disease, it’s kills, and it HURTS.. I just didn’t get that feeling from TFIOS.

    All The Bright Places sounds absolutely spectacular, though. The characters have been a focus in all the reviews I’ve read, which makes me unbelievably happy. So excited to read this, and thanks for the lovely review!

    1. I loved John Green’s books, but I did feel like he romanticized cancer a bit.

      When I finished TFIOS I knew I liked it, but I felt something was off about it, you know? But I think you’ve hit the nail on the head exactly with that point. 🙂 I look forward to seeing what you think of this!

  21. OMIGOSH I AM SO SO SO GLAD YOU GAVE IT A TRY AND LIKED IT EVEN IF YOU DIDN’T LOVE IT. I WILL FORGIVE YOU. BECAUSE IT IS AFJDSKLA. I really connected to this story. Finch. Oh Finch. And I didn’t think I’d like Violet as much as I did…but seriously, the entire thing just punched me in the feels. I am still crying. It’s the only book I’ve ever read that I literally finished and thought, “But I need to reread it RIGHT NOW.”
    *cries for sixty years*

  22. Awesome review, Zoe! 🙂 I’m afraid I don’t have much meaningful to add to the comments seeing as this book won’t publish until January 6th, but thanks to you and some other positive reviewers I’ve seen, I’ll definitely check this novel out when it comes ^_^
    Happy holidays 😀

    1. I’m so glad you’ll be checking it out Connie! 🙂 I look forward to seeing what you think when you read it! 😀

      And you too! 😀 :confetti_ball:

    1. Thank you Lisa! 🙂 You’re so sweet!

      So do I. 😐 I want a book to have the ability to stand on its own, you know? But I suppose I can see why the comparison was made here.

      I look forward to seeing what you think! 😀

  23. 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.

    1. Aww…sorry to hear you’re in a bit of a reading slump Mishma. 🙁 Hopefully this will be the book to get you out of it! I look forward to reading your thoughts. 🙂

  24. I am SO excited to read this. SO EXCITED. I’m not usually one for contemporaries (as you probably know), but I absolutely love how raw, how emotional, and how honest the blurb sounds… even if it did have a comparison to TFiOS. xD And I’m so glad that it lived up to your expectations!

    What I like most, based on your review, is how the romance isn’t rushed. I’ve come across so many YA contemporaries with broken and angsty characters, and when they come across the love interest, they immediately feel better and yay — they live happily ever after, after some sidetrack stories full of drama. But the romance here sounds like it was developed perfectly, and absolutely ship-worthy!

    And ughh, I had a tough time resisting the urge to click on the “View Spoiler” tags. MUST. NOT. SPOIL. MYSELF! Haha. Awesome review, Zoe! I was looking forward to this one before. but now I’m anticipating it even more. Need to get to the bookstore asap! 😉

    1. Yeah! So glad you’re excited Megan! If you love books that are raw and emotional, this is definitely going to be up your alley. 😀

      And I completely agree about the romance. So many times in YA instalove is more common than not, but definitely not here.

      I look forward to seeing what you think1

  25. I am so very very EXCITED to read this! I think it came out TODAY, actually, and I really must get myself a copy, whether I buy it or borrow it from the library, because WOW it sounds incredible. Like you, it was Cait who got me super excited about this–I mean, with all her flailing it’s bound to be good, right? I’m also pleased to hear that you loved it as well, because as the positive reviews add up I just want to read it more and more. 🙂 Great review, Zoe–and thanks for the recommendation!

    1. It did come out today now that you mention it – ha! Definitely get a copy – it’s absolutely incredible. And haha…a bunch of positive reviews is always a good sign, right? 😉 Thank you for the lovely comment Taylor! :heart:

  26. Aaaah, your review is spot on. Books on suicide are either a miss or hit with me, I agree that the ending was a rushed as well. I did like that this novel raised more awareness about mental illness, and Finch was pretty amazing as well.. Beautiful review.

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