I accidentally picked up this book since it wasn’t listed under my TBR. I was doing a research about depression, mental illness, etc as part of my writing project and while searching for some materials to read, I stumbled upon this book. I finished the book (about 400 pages) on 1st March, and decided to write something about it. I try my best to avoid major spoilers as best as I could.
All The Bright Places (ATBP) is written by Jennifer Niven, one of her first experiment of Young Adult genre. The story was partly related to her real life encounters dealing with loss and tragedy of her great- grandfather and her friend, hence making it more believable. I would say the main theme of the story is about survival.
The story began and revolved around an endearing pair of broken teenagers, Violet Markey and Theodore Finch in which both were struggling to survive and considering to end their lives, until they met each other on the ledge of the school’s bell tower; but at that point of time it was unclear who saves whom. When both of them were paired together for a school project to discover the wonders of Indiana, they actually discovered more about themselves and found the comfort of being with each other.
Finch was depicted as a boy who has different personalities, simultaneously trying to find moments and people that could helped him to be ‘awake’. Despite that, he is somewhat spontaneous and unprecedented, which makes Violet adored him that he, in a way, taught her about living. Their world and mind grew with their journey to find meaning through those precarious times together. Finch’s true personality was mostly revealed at almost at the end of the book.
On the first few pages of the book, I found it hard to read and relate because the author tends to switch POV (point of view) quite aggressively. When I started to feel comfortable with Finch being the main narrator, the next 1-2 pages abruptly alternates to Violet’s. As a writer myself, I find this as a creative approach, but at the same time challenging for readers to engage or feel closely connected to the characters. Upon reaching somewhere in the middle of the story, I begin to feel more comfortable with the pattern.
Come to later, I started to feel the story is a bit predictable; somewhere in between, I could comprehend how the ending is going to be, so I slow down my reading pace. I think mostly because the important scenes were described a bit too early. On the other hand, there were moments where Violet had to ‘decipher some codes’ and I found that it was too easy and too smooth, as if nothing will ever go wrong. Towards the ending, I think there were parts that’s dragging, but all of a sudden a bit rushing.
Nevertheless, the story resemble truth-telling about how real life’s perspective towards mental illnesses, and I completely agree with how Jennifer described it in the story. I could relate to Finch’s feelings throughout his journey (I’m a depression sufferer myself), how people see and judge you, and how certain things were beyond our control. I could also relate to Violet who had the ultimate courage and strength to go through her miserable life despite things that had happened. I could not hold my tears at one page, from one of the powerful dialogue by Violet – I think it was described beautifully and deeply meaningful. Other things that I love about the story was the quotes, and also quoting Virginia Woolf’s, my favourite author. The book also despite being YA, described some factual elements that I never knew before.
It was said that most of the fans of ‘Eleanor and Park’ and ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ will enjoy reading this book. While some may find the book is too depressing, I find the story is heart-ripping, but in a brilliant way. ATBP was soon to be a major motion picture, starring Elle Fanning and I can’t wait to watch it, especially those places mentioned in the book. There was also a part about Germ magazine that was stated in the book; in case you don’t know, it is a real website, so go check it out!
My rating: 4.2/5
Have you read the book? What’s your take?
“We are all alone, trapped in these bodies and our own minds, and whatever company we have in this life is only fleeting and superficial.” – Jennifer Niven, All The Bright Places