Publisher: Penguin Books
Reader Age: 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.
All the Bright Places is an emotional rollercoaster which had me both laughing and crying. Jennifer Niven delves into family, suicide, and how life carries on even after everything you are has changed. All the Bright Places is beautifully written, and had me immersed in both Finch, and Violet’s world from the first page! The ideas and thoughts developed and explored throughout the book are thought provoking. Yet, I have to admit, I found the book bitter sweet (not that this is a bad thing), and I was heartbroken at the end.
During the book we read from both Violet’s and Finch’s point of view. I loved Finch’s character, finding him funny and impulsive, yet responsible to a certain extent. His character is quirky and different. While it may seem that Finch’s character is almost selfish at the end, I saw him as quite selfless. Even though he was dealing with a lot from both his family and from school he helped Violet and really saw life as quite a beautiful thing. He was also in my opinion, quite a complicated and secretive character, who didn’t want anyone to see how he was truly feeling most of the time; or felt that no one could understand what he is going through. The character development throughout the book was fantastic, and Finch’s thought processes show just how complicated he really is. Similarly, I also enjoyed Violet’s character. Throughout the book I felt that she bloomed, as she became more confident in who she wanted to be, rather than what she used to be, or what her sister used to be like. Even though towards the end of the book I felt that Violet could have done more, I also understood her uncertainty of what to do. The romance between the two characters was also realistic, and was not an ‘insta-love’. Certain parts of the books were heartwarming, which made me all the more emotional towards the end of the book (and yes, I did cry). The romance between Violet and Finch is perfectly paced, not slow, yet not immediate, and the work up towards the relationship emphasises how they help each other in different ways. Finch gives Violet a push to get her to live again after her sister’s death, and Violet helps Finch achieve happiness, and what he calls ‘a perfect day’. Additionally Finch is quite romantic at times during the novel, making the relationship between Finch and Violet much deeper, and heart-wrenching.
As I said before the writing is beautiful, and the descriptions are vivd. There are many parts of the book which I love, but certain parts are just beautiful, I don’t know how else to describe it!
“The thing I realise is that it’s not what you take, it’s what you leave”
“You are all the colours in one, at full brightness”
“‘But I bring it up to let you know that this is the way I feel right now. Like Pluto and Jupiter are aligned with the earth and I’m floating’ In a minute, she says, ‘You’re so weird, Finch. But that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me'”
The idea behind the book I thought was also clever, with both Violet and Finch going and searching for places around Indiana. Additionally I felt the story about the bird which kept flying into the window, that is repeated several times throughout the novel, was a representation of Finch coming back ‘awake’, yet feeling as if he can’t quite find himself, which is reflected when he changes his ‘character’ (from 80s Finch to bad-ass Finch e.t.c) during the book. The book also explored the idea of death, and Finch continuously brings up the idea that people have a ‘shelf-life’ and so he feels that he should live his life to the fullest.
Overall I really enjoyed the book, and fell in love with both Violet and Finch! The relationship between both characters is heartwarming, and funny. Jennifer Niven also in my opinion successfully explores other darker themes throughout the novel, while simultaneously looking at the better things about life. The novel is gripping, and I am not ashamed to admit that I finished it quickly! Other books which look at similar themes, or are written in a smilier way are The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and Eleanor and Park By Rainbow Rowel. If you enjoyed these books I think you will enjoy All the Bright Places! Rating: 5/5 🙂 Happy Reading xxx