Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Bought
Publication Date: January 6th 2015
Publisher: Knopf
Point of View: 1st Person & Alternative
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Illness, Death, Romance, Friendship


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.


Finch and Violet are two very different persons. She is popular, down to earth and is trying to please everyone. He’s the ‘‘Freak’’, careless and doesn’t know or acknowledge how the many things he does every day might hurt people around him. (Or maybe he does, and that is why he is lying to everyone about his deepest feelings, but I couldn’t know for sure. Was there more to it, or just his personality?) Yet, they both have something in common: When at night, neither of them sleeps peacefully. Violet’s sister died in a car accident, and she blames herself for it. A part of her knows it wasn’t her fault…yet she can’t help but think about all the ‘‘If only I…’’

Finch was the most complicated to understand, decipher. Since we’re honest here, I actually didn’t and that is one of the reasons why this book cannot get a higher rating from me. Some might think it is okay to not clearly apprehend all of our main characters’ thoughts or his/her way of thinking but I really need that. Otherwise, the character in question will remain a mystery unsolved for me, and that would make me, as a reader, unsatisfied. That’s how I feel about Finch. He’s depressive, yet doesn’t act like it – for the most part, not that there is a *way* of acting when you’re depressive. He just…didn’t convince me. Some might think that he’s searching for attention, because of how crazy he acts sometimes, but that’s not it. And that will never be it. But could I really tell you what the real problem is? I couldn’t, even though I am aware of one of the – I assume – things that makes him unhappy. I could try to, but the thing is that he, as a main character, is not fully honest with us. He rarely tells us everything that is on his mind – except for Violet. Very rarely. There’s always this mask he’s wearing daily that hides his true emotions and, whenever that mask falls, the deepest truth that comes out of it shocks him and he puts it back again. Maybe that’s not how you’ll see him, but, unfortunately, that’s how he appeared to me.

The writing was wonderful. I could recognize a little resemblance to the one in The Fault in Our Stars but very little, since that book is, for me, the best of YA contemporaries and my mind doesn’t want to compare it to any other YA contemporary book. But let’s go back to this novel, it had also much originality. I admit that some settings were too overused, but there was a variety of them, so that helped. Also, while I liked the plot, and I did – really, it did stretch too much. The first part, when Finch & Violet slowly got to know one another, was sweet but, when they became lovers, my interest wandered around and tried to anchor itself on something else, because I really wanted this to be more than a romance novel. And it is! Thank god it is. However, Finch & Violet’s relationship was not that different from other YA books with *broken* characters or ones searching for something to brighten up their lives.

There were some secondary characters but they looked as if, if the main characters aren’t interacting with them, they do not exist or are easily forgotten. Sincerely, Charlie, Finch’s best friend, had potential to be an exception to the rule, but his humour that was introduced at the beginning of the story disappeared later on.

Many will probably find this book to be beautiful – it was – and breathtaking and with reason. And that is why I would recommend it; I think we will all see it differently, maybe depending on our past experiences or the type of people we’re close to. Really, this is the kind of story that I will even recommend not reading reviews for before picking up. Now, my mentioning of this at the end of this review was
not pre-planned. *wink*

PS. Virginia Woolf has just rocketed at the top of my TBR pile. The many quotes of hers that were included in this read had my complete attention.


39 thoughts on “Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

  1. I keep seeing this book around.. and I like the look of it, but I’m not sure when I really look at it that it will be my cup of tea. I think your review only confirms how uncertain I still feel about it.. xD

    Great post though!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Finch was so hard to understand because he was suffering from a mental illness. He didn’t always seem depressed, because he wasn’t. He has intense mood swings(I believe it’s called Bipolar Disorder but I’m not sure), highs and lows, and through out most of the book (especially when he’s with Violet) he’s at a high point (awake as he describes it) and towards the end he sinks into the depressive mood swing. Mental illness can be tricky to understand though and I didn’t realize it until the end because it’s not really explained in the book. Anyway, I LOVED this book. Definitely a fav for this year for me. I might even like it more than TFiOS and Eleanor & Park lol! Great review!


  3. Well, Virginia Woolf is a complicated writer. If this book is littered with quotes from her, I can only imagine how deep (and maybe even disturbed) the characters are like. Me thinks this book will hurt me.


  4. oooooo nice review girlie! I’m actually really excited for this book now. I didn’t know to much about it, being that I said I was going to stay away from reading reviews before I picked the book up, but I couldn’t help myself. I’m into broken characters, so I have a feeling this book will be right up my alley 🙂


  5. Honestly I felt the same way at first. But then I realized he most likely suffers from Bipolar (I realized that even before the book made mention of it). People with bipolar have a lot of highs in addition to a lot of lows. I think that’s why it seemed like he wasn’t really depressed. People with bipolar have stages where they seem to be very, very happy. I hope that makes sense. I really enjoyed the book. Sorry you didn’t enjoy it more. 🙂


  6. I loved this book so passionately, it completely destroyed me but I can sympathise Lola. If you can’t connect with the main characters, then no matter how great the hype is, you can’t enjoy it as much as everyone else. For me, I found his depression to be pretty realistic, seeing glimpses of sunshine through the clouds so to speak. Can’t totally see what you mean though. Sorry you couldn’t have enjoyed this more, but wonderful review ❤


  7. I’ve heard a lot of really great things about this one so I ordered it online the other day and now it’s sitting on my shelf for a time when I feel emotionally ready to begin reading it. I think I just have to be in the right mood and mindset for this one. Great review.


  8. This is a great review! This book sounds like it wouldn’t really be for me though, because like you, I need to have my characters all sussed out. I also normally steer away from these types of books as well, they’re just a bit too intense for my soft sappy heart lol. 😀 Again, great review and have a nice end of week and weekend!! ❤


  9. Oh sorry it wasn’t as good but it’s great that the writing was that good! I heard so many wonderful things about this one and I confess that I’m quite curious to discover it as well. thanks for your review.


  10. I’m actually pretty excited about this book; I’ve been for awhile really and I’d probably give it a go in the future (summer is when I love to read my contemporaries) and I’m glad to hear about the writing style being wonderful because while contemporary stories aren’t really that much original, the writing style makes is what makes the book good or bad for me. And I didn’t know this was gonna be a movie and to be honest, I’m a bit tired of seeing all these YA books made into movies. Is Hollywood out of original ideas?


    • I love to read my contemporaries in winter actually ahha so it brings a bit of warm to me lol. And in summer, well, fantasy. But I always read fantasy so not sure it counts. I’m not tired of seeing books into movies if they are fantasy ones. If they are contemps, I feel very MEh 😛


  11. Doesn’t seem like my kind of book. It’s because I hate contemporaries. But the writing sounds amazing so I am tempted. Plus the reviews are kind of raving.

    Glad that you somewhat enjoyed this one, dear. Lovely review! ❤


  12. I LOVED this book. I understand not understanding Finch, because he was so complex. Honestly I think I understood him because I went through something similar that he did. But it was still a very lovely book. Great review ❤


  13. This is a book I am really anticipating. After reading the synopsis alone I know it’s something I want to read because it sounds so unique and well, different that is has me captivated. The characters sound like they have interesting aspects about them and seeing as I am all about the character development, I have a feeling I will love this. Looking forward to trying it.


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