Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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3/5 stars!

“The great thing about this life of ours is that you can be someone different to everybody.” 

I’ve never felt more conflicted in deciding how to rate a book until this one. Most of my friends who have known me long enough know how much I love YA contemporaries and how I usually get swept off my feet by them easily. But with this book, it felt like riding a skateboard for the first time, trying to get on the board with that victorious feeling that “Yay! I did it” only to lose your balance in an instant leaving you a mess of flailing arms and legs. I felt like this throughout the entire book. One moment up, the next moment down.

The story line is truly interesting and it’s not everyday that you’ll read anything about two teenagers, Theodore Finch and Violet Markey, who accidentally meet and fall in love after both fail a suicide attempt. The story has one of the most interesting beginnings I’ve ever read and it seemed to promise an exciting and eventful plot but it veered into something entirely different from what I expected. It’s not necessarily bad but I guess I was expecting too much from this book especially because of the blurb.

The writing is very smart and as foretold by the title, it is “bright” and maybe a bit too bright for me and too National Geographic like especially when Theodore Finch narrates the story. He always injects these loads of information and facts about these famous people and the different ways they died or often, committed suicide in his usual conversations with Violet.

It’s completely confusing- his love and appreciation for life but at the same time his passion and obsession about death and it wasn’t until the last quarter of the book that I understood and realized the reason for his behavior. Only then did I start start to feel for him because during the good first half, I was just simply unimpressed by his stunts and experiments with the different methods by which a person could take his life.

The prevalence of the melancholic tone to me is also a bit of a turn down and also a very obvious hint as to the ending of the story. There were many times, I was really angry at Theodore and wanted to scream at him to wake up. I wanted to yell at him for being so unfair especially to Violet and even when I know I was supposed to be crying, I was still angry at his actions and decisions.

Honestly, I was so prepared to give this a two star rating but reading the Author’s Note allowed me to change entirely how I perceived the story especially after realizing that this entire story was somehow inspired and drawn from her past and personal experiences. Just for her courage to share to the world a very important and eye opening message inscribed in this story is already beyond admirable and commendable and for that, I give this book three well deserved stars.

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