Review | All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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GOODREADS SYNOPSIS: 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

PUBLISHED BY: Knopf on January 6 2015

RATING: ★★★✰✰

(An ARC of this was provided by Netgalley and Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review)

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

It's unclear as to who saved who the day Theo and Violet meet on the bell tower, but for a brief moment, both of them stood there, contemplating the end. Their meeting is a pivotal point in both of their lives that will change them both forever.

This book is genuine and unapologetic. Jennifer Niven isn't scared of confronting the less savory aspects of mental illnesses, but she does it so tactfully. [...]
Emotions are explored incredibly well in this book, and even if I couldn't relate to their extremes, I felt like I could understand the feelings involved - suicide, depression, isolation.

The characters, to me, were the highlight of the book, they bring the novel to life with their intricacy and detail. Niven has a real skill in being able to write characters who are complex and well developed. I could understand Finch's every emotional up and down because it was written so clearly. The struggle of having to live with a mental illness is explored in great depth, with poise and finesse, as is the struggle of loving someone with one. I loved Finch. He was charming and charismatic and gentlemanly, and also witty, hilarious and caring and can be so brightly optimistic that it hurts.

Violet's grief was tangible and heartbreaking. She's stopped living since the death of her older sister, giving up her passion of writing. She's such a well written character, her guilt and loss over her sister's death are presented skillfully. I loved her relationship with her parents too.

Finch and Violet together, though, is what made this book. The romance between them was slow and explored deeply. Together, they helped each other overcome issues, such as Finch's feeling of loneliness and Violet's fear of life. I loved their relationship from the very beginning, with their snarky banter, all the way to the explosive end.

However, I can't say I was blown away by this book. When I finished it, I was confused and unsure as to my real feelings. It didn't make me feel very keenly at all, all I was left with were vague and unnameable emotions that made me toss and turn until I fell asleep. It wasn't particularly memorable either. I don't know why this book prompted such an apathy in me, because usually, this kind of emotional, profound book is right up my street. I just couldn't feel it touching my soul in the way other books did. It just kind of left me unemotional. Nothing really stood out as exceptional, and though I could almost see the poignancy, I couldn't feel it myself.

Despite my personal feelings, I'm sure that this book will be an incredibly well received book, praised for the realistic and gritty storytelling.


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