Thursday, January 1, 2015

Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! What better way to start off the new year than with an upcoming release that absolutely blew me away?

Firstly, thanks to Penguin Teen Australia for this review copy <3

Release Date: January 7th 2015
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My rating: 

"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 is our project. We started it together, and we end it together.”

I’m sort of speechless as I sit here in front of my computer, trying to figure out how to word this review with tear tracks on my cheeks. I didn’t know what to expect when I got sent this book from Penguin Teen Australia. It crept up on me and when I read the blurb and saw it compared to TFIOS I was sceptical. A lot of books have drawn comparisons to popular YA titles lately. It’s not the same. No two books are. But TFIOS and All the Bright Places are the same in the way they made me go on an epic feels trip. One that had me laughing, wondering, speculating, sobbing and then in the end, “forever changed”.

Suicide and mental illness are extremely touchy subjects and I try to stay away from these kinds of books because I’m a sensitive person and I get affected by things really easily. They’re also not often portrayed as much in YA. But I couldn’t resist the pull of All the Bright Places and I’m so glad I read it because I think Niven got everything right. I could tell she’d done her research in every aspect and oh how I could relate.

“I shut down. I went blank… Think a long, dark sleep where you don’t dream at all.”

We meet Violet Markey through the eyes of Theodore Finch as both are standing on the ledge of their school’s bell tower, both contemplating suicide but Finch somehow knows that Violet doesn’t really want to be up there. They meet again in US Geography and are paired together to find unique places in their state of Indiana. What ensues is a journey of discovering quaint places, seeing beauty in the world around us, and finding love.

“The thing, is there are good days and bad days.”

I don’t know how I feel about Violet for the majority of the book. I could definitely relate to her though. She had extricated herself from the world after her sister’s death and trying to cope with everything. I liked the way she came out of her shell as the book progressed but I felt she was very passive for most of it and didn’t really play a role until the end. That ending though. Everything she felt, everything she thought, I completely understood, and by the last page I loved how she’d grown and changed as a person.

“Just because they’re dead, they don’t have to be. And neither do we.”

For me this book was all about Finch. He’s the one with restless thoughts that will not cease, the kind that distract and will not give peace of mind. He’s constantly wandering, needing to be on the move, incessantly needing to do things; he’s filled with random facts and it’s people like him, who are the on the outside looking in who see the most – who manage to observe the important things in life and see that bigger picture. I could relate to Finch in so many ways. Thoughts like his I’ve harboured at some point (but on a smaller scale) and through Niven’s skill and finesse, I was able to feel everything else on Finch’s scale and it broke me. I love Theodore Finch.

“No more worrying about where we’re going or what’s to become of us or if we’ll ever disappoint another person again.”

One of the most realistic features of this story are the secondary characters. They’re secondary for a reason, adding substance, making the main characters shine brighter. I loved how nobody fit into one mould. So many American YA books set in high school have these stereotypes and that was NOT what it was like for me at school and I doubt it was like that for many others. High school for me was not like in the movies. In All the Bright Places, the popular girl isn’t a total bitch. Just because Violet isn’t hanging out with the popular group anymore, doesn’t make the popular group hate her or anything. The popular guy isn’t a dumb jock who cheats. I thought Ryan was actually a decent guy. All the characters were decent people, each with their own flaws but with their own good qualities too. That’s what high school was like for me.

At the end of the day All the Bright Places deals with issues of bullying, suicide, labelling, mental illness and coping with loss. Despite these sad themes Niven has artfully woven these ideas into a book that’s almost like a road-trip, filled with amazing real places in Indiana that are of significance to someone, somewhere. Her writing is eloquent and flows: hesitant for Violet, harried yet poetic for Finch. Niven has quoted bits of literature throughout that really accentuate the meaning of the story. All the Bright Places draws you into Violet and Finch’s world of discovery, marks you with their words and leaves you forever changed as you realise we all leave a piece of us wherever we go.

“I will always be here, in the offerings and people I left behind.”


  1. Happy New Year Jaz!
    This is the book I'm most excited for this year as I've been told countless times it's amazing. Your review has made me even more excited. Great Review!

    1. Hi Sunny! Happy New Year to you too :)

      I can't wait for you to read it, it's wonderful. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :D

  2. This blew me away too Jaz! The romance, the depth, everything about it was just spectacular! And that ending... *cries* Thanks for sharing and, as always, fantastic review! ♥

    ~ Zoe @ Stories on Stage

    1. I KNOW OMG. So many emotions and the way it was delivered was beautiful!

  3. Wonderful review Jaz, I love how this one isn't filled with silly YA character tropes (because who can relate to those) and it sounds completely heart breaking and an emotional read. The characters all seem relate-able, especially Finch. I'll be breaking this open next, I bet I'll love it!

    1. YESYESYES to everything you said I can't wait to hear what you think of it. I hope you enjoy it Jeann :D

  4. You chose a really awesome book for your first read of 2015! SO MANY FEEEELSSSS. Everything about this was amazing. And it's so hard to review because of that! But you wrote a much better review for it than I did! I just couldn't get over all my feelings.

    1. OMG BEC every time I think about this book I get such intense feelings D: definitely extremely hard to review and I'm sure your review is even more wonderful pfft.

  5. I love that you wrote on the post-its and included them in this review! I'm curious about All the Bright Places, curious but wary. I think that it sounds like a pretty good story, but I don't know how I feel about these characters based on the reviews I've been reading. Still, I think I might just have to give it a shot!

    1. I think it's one of those stories that you either love or absolutely don't like. The characters are very romanticised so it depends on what you expect from the book.