Friday, August 28, 2015
All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Title: All The Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Date Published: January 6th, 2015
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
Age Range: 15+
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.
This book has been incredibly hyped since its release around half a year ago. Honestly, the hype hasn't really died down ever since- which is a little terrifying. I always read hyped books with a grain of salt, ready to be disappointed or caught up in the hype. Usually, I am pleasantly surprised; this book, though, blows everything that I have ever read out of the water. Per the usual, I will try to be very non-spoilery, however, there will be spoilers later on in this review.
The cover of this book is sickeningly adorable, and I will admit to some cover lust. Just look at its cuteness!! Cover aside, this book was very raw, and unrelenting. The way it dealt with problems like depression, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders was amazing. Jennifer Niven did such a great job with these heavy subjects because she didn't shy away from the harsh realities, and she certainly didn't make this a mindless read. The heavier topics were met head on, they weren't romanticized in any way, they weren't glossed over, and the true consequences of these problems being ignored was prominent.
Violet and Finch were both great characters, and polar opposites. While Violet was the example of defeating her depression, and rising above it, Finch is the example of becoming his disorder at times. Both characters could seem very superficial at times, but teenagers are superficial sometimes- all of us are. All of the minor characters in this book were just that- minor to a fault. I can remember names of certain characters, but none of them really stuck out as important, or as individuals, except for Amanda. Finch's mom was your typical, absent YA parent trope, while Violet's parents were the opposite. I actually really liked Violet's parents. Finch's father's new family was so absent that I couldn't really bring myself to form an opinion about them. Decca and Kate, while pretty minor, really got on my good side. One of my favorite parts of the book was where Finch was crafting with Decca and he was trying to teach her that there is beauty in nasty words.
And now, things are going to get very spoilery. Trust me when I say that this is a book that you do not want spoiled for you.
So, first, I actually never saw Finch having bipolar disorder. Looking back, it makes perfect sense, but I actually thought that he had some kind of brain trauma from being abused by his father that was making him spaz out. I thought that his brain trauma was pairing with some major depression to make him flip out. Of course, it turns out that he has bipolar disorder instead. And I knew that Violet was majorly depressed because it is stated pretty early on.
The book was so mean in the way that things that really hopeful and happy around the middle, around the peak. I truly believed that we were gonna have a happy, hopeful ending. Then Finch disappeared, and I freaked out. As much as I hate to say this, I'm glad Finch died. Yes, I loved him, but untreated mental issues are not a joking matter, and there are repercussions from that decision. Out of all the messages that Finch sent to his friends and family, Decca's was my favorite, and that is when I started to cry. After that, I cried pretty steadily until the book ended.
I hate to be that person, but the book got a little too drawn out near the end. I got a little bored with the ending a few pages before it ended, and that is the testament of a good writer. The fact that I was about to be lost, right as it was ended.
A little, tiny part of me wants an epilogue so that we can check in on Violet a few years down the road. But mostly, I am pretty happy.
If you, or someone you know struggles with depression, please visit: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.com or call 800-273-TALK.