March 5, 2015

Review: All The Bright Places

 Title: All the Bright Places
 Author: Jennifer Niven
 Pages: 355
 Published: October 7th, 2014 by Penguin
 Series: Standalone
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An exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death. Every day he thinks of ways he might die, but every day he also searches for—and manages to find—something to keep him here, and alive, and awake.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her small Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—six stories above the ground—it's unclear who saves whom. And when the unlikely pair teams up on a class project to discover the "natural wonders" of their state, they go, as Finch says, where the road takes them: the grand, the small, the bizarre, the beautiful, the ugly, the surprising—just like life.

Soon it's only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a bold, funny, live-out-loud guy, who's not such a freak after all. And it's only with Finch that Violet forgets to count away the days and starts living them. But as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink.

This is a heart-wrenching, unflinching story of love shared, life lived, and two teens who find one another while standing on the edge.

Hey guys!
This review is going to be a bit less fangirly and gif-filled than the others, mostly because I have way serious feelings about this book. I had really high hopes for this book - it seemed like a cutesy love story but with some serious undertones. One of the calibers of a review for me is how much fun was the book to read? I don't mean fun in the bouncy-house and balloon sense but more in the sense of enjoyability. It was an exhilarating read and I really liked it, but there was a lot of stuff didn't like about it either. So, here I go! I'm gonna do a good chunk of the review spoiler-free, but when I compare it to TFIOS at the end, there will be spoilers for both TFIOS and All The Bright Places. I will warn you guys in advance though! This is probably going to be as dramatic as a soap opera, so bear with me.

Anyways, this book starts off with a strange encounter between Violet and Finch. Finch is clearly 'broken', and he is what everyone considers a freak and a weirdo. He's never completely fit in but has come to terms with it. On the other hand, Violet is the girl who seems to have it all - popularity, tons of friends, a boyfriend, stellar grades, and a position on the cheer team. But an accident tears Violet's life apart until she is just as broken on the inside as Finch is on the outside. This book does have recurring themes of coming to terms with yourself, but they aren't the main ones.

I loved the way Finch and Violet's relationship slowly progressed. That was fun to read, and while it was the teensiest bit predictable, it was predictable in a good way. It was predictable in the sense that there was so much happening you didn't even have to worry about anything outside Finch and Violet. At the beginning of the book, their relationship was the universe. But it slowly began to dwindle and I began losing attention.

I also felt like this book painted Indiana in a sarcastic light. The author seemed to say, "There's nothing worthwhile to see in Indiana. The coolest things we have are hills." It was funny at first but again, got tiring quickly.

One thing I didn't get was why Finch's world became smaller and smaller as Violet's grew. I mean, it's obvious why Violet's world grew. But why did Finch's shrink? He was clearly better off during the middle-ish of the book then he was in the beginning. There was some alluding to it, but not enough.

As I'm writing this review, I realize I'm ranting on and on about the stuff I didn't like in this book. Granted, there was quite a bit of it. But I really did like this book. It moved me and sent me on an emotional roller coaster ride. The main reason I didn't love this book was because I had soaring expectations for it, and compared to them the book was just OK. But this is a beautiful book and I definitely recommend reading it if you're into books like I'll Give You The Sun. This review doesn't really do the book justice, but it just highlights what I thought of it. That's it for this review! You can read all the spoilery bits down below if you'd like, or go pick up the book and then rant to random strangers about it.

If you look on the Internet or on Goodreads for reviews of this book, everyone is comparing it to TFIOS. Before reading the book, I could tell why, but it became even clearer as I read and and after I finished it. So the girl's name is a color. The guy's name is super old-fashioned and poetic. Both of the teenagers are super deep. Both stories take place in Indiana. They have this relationship that starts because of a coincidence but somehow both teenagers are perfect for each other. They have a disease (cancer, mental instability) and in the end, the guy dies. I saw that coming in TFIOS because Hazel kept moping about how she was going to die. Of course life made Augustus die instead. It was tragic and John Green became our least favorite person for about a second before he became the best again. But in All The Bright Places, the freaking synopsis hints at the fact the guy is going to die. "Finch's world grows smaller?" Seriously? The synopsis give the ending away. So I wasn't shocked at all when Finch died. I would have loved if it made me cry like TFIOS did, but it didn't....I also felt like there wasn't much of an emotional connection to Finch or Violet, as a reader. It also annoyed me that Violet got this random epiphany and figured everything out. It was unbelievable. However, I did like the travelling Violet does as a way of figuring out herself  and a way of letting go of Finch. The ball of paint, especially, really struck a chord with me. If not for the rule of painting it over before you left, Violet may have read Finch's message to her. That part did make me tear up. Overall, I really liked this book, even with it's similarities and differences when compared to TFIOS.

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