Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

If you know me, you’d know that I absolutely love The Fault in Our Stars. It’s like a Young Adult Harry Potter for me – I can read it any number of times and I won’t hear a word against it. I won’t even argue for it. I’ll harden and shut down. 😂

So when I heard of All the Bright Places and how it was being marketed as something that fans of John Green – especially those of The Fault in Our Stars – will love, I thought I had to read this one. Thinking thus, I bought it almost 2 years ago. And since the movie came out recently, I felt like there was no better time for me to read it than now.

So I picked it up for the May #DramaQueenAThon, the readathon that I host over at Instagram every couple of months. This was my third book for the readathon.

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All the Bright Places is the story of Theodore Finch, who is fascinated with taking his own life and the nuances around it, if you could call it that. Violet Markey is on a countdown to graduation so that she can leave the town she’s grown up in and leave behind the memories and the PTSD she has been battling from her sister’s death. It so happens that both Finch and Violet happen to be on the ledge of the bell tower of their school one day and since then, thanks to Finch’s relentless pursuing, they become inseparable. But something is about to happen that is about throw their lives into emotional turmoil. How will these two teenagers handle it when it does?

It’s been days since I read All the Bright Places and I still really don’t know how to put my thoughts about this book into words. Because on one hand, I did like that it talked about the topics it talked about, but on the other, I didn’t like how it dealt with them. So I’ll just try to list what I liked and didn’t like about the book down here.

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What I liked:

– It talks about mental illness.

– It shows the difference between loneliness and solitude. A lot of people confuse the two and reading this book sort of helps you identify the signs of loneliness.

– It shows you how bullying can come to you in every form. And oh my God does it make you want to punch a hole in the wall!

– This book talks about a plethora of parent issues, but then the kids are like, “I’m going to ignore my Dad” or “I’m going to behave like my Mum is the best parent there is.” And though I don’t hate it, I really don’t know what to think of it!

– The writing is beautiful in most places and makes you want to hug Finch and Violet and protect them from whatever is coming their way.

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What I didn’t like:

– How the bullying was handled. I mean, sure reality doesn’t always see bullies get their comeuppance but come on! There’s so much going on that calling Finch ‘Theodore Freak’ is the least of the bullying that happens in there.

– There was absolutely no point in the story where I thought, ‘Oh wow! They’re falling in love! It’s going to be beautiful!’ And then bam! There they were. In love and inseparable. I mean… How?

– It’s been compared to The Fault in Our Stars but while the lightheartedness felt natural there, this one felt forced. Like they’re trying hard to ignore the mental illness that it is about and the things that are about to wreck them.

– They Google Virginia Woolf quotes and throw them at each other. No thank you.

– I saw the ending coming and with every page turned, I went, “It’s gonna happen now.” And then bam! It happened. It’s predictable and not in an adorable way.

– How Violet’s parents blamed Finch’s parents for their parenting style. Given, it wasn’t good. They neglected their kids but is that what you really want to be doing right now?

– How Violet goes back to acting normally and being friends with Ryan and Amanda like nothing has happened. Like they were the best friends she ever had. It was probably the ‘forgiveness’ thing but nah. Not for me. I’m not buying that.

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Even so, this book still confuses the hell out of me because though there are some things I didn’t like, I also didn’t mind reading the book. And that’s weird because I usually have pretty clear feelings about any book that I read.

Rating: 3.25/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: Goodreads

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