I’ll start this by warning that this review is a very long unpopular opinion about this book, from what I’ve seen online. I’ll talk about All The Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven.
TRIGGER WARNINGS: SUICIDE, DEPRESSION, MENTAL ILLNESS
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I recently joined a book club on Tumblr and this was the book choose for the month of March. I got around to it quickly since I just had finished another book and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. If you’re interested in joining, it’s called The Book Network. It’s private so tell me if you would like to be a part of that great place!
Before I start discussing the book, I want to once again mention that it touches the difficult subjects of mental illnesses and death. If you’re sensitive to these things, please don’t read this review. It was very difficult to me to read the book and I don’t want anyone to feel bad about it too. So, you can close the tab now, I won’t be mad.
Jennifer Niven has writing several books but this is her first endeavour in young adult fiction. In her Author’s Note, Niven mentions her motives to write a book about this subjects. Death and mental illnesses have been a relevant part of her life. This is the way she has found to try and help out.
The book focuses on the point of view of two characters: Violet and Finch. They are both from very different crowds. Violet is the typical pretty girl that’s popular and dates the hottest dude in school, while Finch is called a freak and worst things in a daily basis. When he’s at the top of the school’s bell tower, considering how it would feel to just fall from a six stories height, he looks around and sees Violet standing at the edge too. After they both come down unharmed, they pair together for a wandering geography assignment through Indiana. In between, they become real close.
I had several problems with this book throughout. But I’ll talk first of the few things that I did like. I enjoyed the fact that the chapters were divided the point view of the two main characters. I always enjoy first-person writing, it gives a lot more insight about a character, their past and all the events. When a story is divided in several characters, it makes total sense.
Another amazing thing is that it portraits mental disorders very accurately. Myself and my family have a track of this illnesses so I know how this things feel first hand. The struggles felt completely real and I could relate to their suffering. But that leads me to my main problem with this book.
I’ve been trying to know as little as possible about the books I read. But, in this case, it was a wrong move. I would never have picked this book if I knew it talked about what it talks about. I felt really uncomfortable while reading it because I could put people currently in my life in those situations. I could very clearly see them considering taking their lives, pondering the pros and cons. I was deeply saddened. It was really a struggle to finish it. I felt that a suicide or a death was approaching and I didn’t want to go through that, putting myself in any place of that situation. And from what I picked from the Author’s Note, that wasn’t the purpose. It was meant to tell people that are influenced by a close friend/family member suicide that it is ok to survive and not feel responsible. But, to me, it only made me more aware of the people I can loose and how my own illness can affect me. It didn’t fill me with hope but rather with sorrow and pain.
I didn’t particular like any characters. Violet had no depth other than the suffering from her sister premature departing from our world. And Finch was not a lot more other than his diseases. All the other characters were pretty forgettable. The wandering scenes were interesting, I learned a bit more about that part of America (event though I’m not sure if all the sights are real). But, after two places viste, it got boring. It was the same format, over and over again.
So, to conclude, I don’t think I would recommend this book. The down points aren’t worth the few high ones. I know my opinion really doesn’t represent the majority of the critic but again, this is just my view. If you loved this book, please let me know why. Since the month still hasn’t end, I haven’t got a chance to discuss it with anyone and I really want to. I would love to understand other’s views.
Here’s one of the few quotes that kept with me.
And sorry wastes time. You have to live your life like you’ll never be sorry. It’s easier just to do the right thing from the start so there’s nothing to apologize for.
Thank you for reading this post! I look forward to see you here next time!