Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven


All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Published Year: 2015
Genre: YA Contemporary
Subtitle: No Thank You

"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."

I'm in the minority here, guys, but I did not enjoy this one! I felt like the depiction of mental illness was trivialized and dramatized. It has a very quirky feel to it, but each of the main characters are struggling with some deep emotional distresses. But the consequences of these thoughts/actions aren't treated with much seriousness, if they're even addressed at all.

I found it very difficult to relate to the characters; they didn't feel like real people. Violet from Finch's perspective didn't feel/sound like Violet from her own POV, and same with Finch. I felt like I was reading two separate books about four characters. A lot of their exchanges were fluffy/snarky without any true information. I've read other reviews and seen it described as "mental illnesses stuffed into bodies", and this fits so perfectly for me that I'm not going to add any more.

Also, the adults in this novel? I don't feel like a single one of them represents the average adult. They all seemed like the rare and exception-to-the-rule adults. Violet's parents just lost their other daughter, and yet only act like parents twice in this book. Finch's mom is largely absent, which, while this isn't unusual, it's how not a like a person she seems even when she is there. The counselors felt like props and there to (poorly) address the mental illnesses in this book.

I did really like JN's writing style! She has a beautiful way of expressing and describing things, and I have a few quotes that I love from this book. But, overall, I was not a fan and didn't enjoy this one.

1 out of 5 stars.