book review: all the bright places

All The Bright Places is a book by Jennifer Niven that addresses an important issue in today's society; depression. My rating for it is 4.0/5, because it's not really my cup of tea but i still think it's a decent book.

The story is about 17-year-old Theodore Finch, who is only popular for being weird and being a troublemaker. An incident when Finch was young caused him to have occasional depressive episodes, where he would shut himself out from the world for a few weeks at a time whenever the depression starts. He meets Violet Markey, one of the popular girls in school who got involved in a car accident that killed her older sister nine months ago. The accident had left Violet feeling guilty and changed, and without meaning to, she almost commits suicide from jumping off a bell tower at school. Finch, who was there at the time thinking of doing the same, saves her before she managed to go through with it. Finch starts to develop an interest for Violet and finds a way to spend more time with her by partnering up together for a geography assignment.

I bought this book because of the hype it was getting, and also because it is being adapted into a movie featuring Elle Fanning as Violet. A lot of my bookworm friends said that the book was really good, and that it was like a cross between The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor & Park. Honestly though, i think it's more of a mixture of TFIOS, Papertowns and Looking For Alaska. At times, i really did feel like i was reading a John Green novel.

This novel is deep. Not as deep as most of John Green's books but still quite deep. It is deep to the point that i couldn't feel good about relating to it because i couldn't fully understand what the characters are going through. Or maybe because i did understand, and don't like feeling it. It has a lot of depressing thoughts and quotes, and even though Finch's humour did mask out the true depressing feelings he was experiencing, it was still depressing for me to read.

For people who love reading about depression and suicide and enjoyed reading Perks of Being a Wallflower and Looking For Alaska, i'm sure they'll really love this book and all of the feels they're able to experience from reading it.

The book has quite a few swear words in it, and does have some sexual content. However the sex parts are hardly described at all, they're mostly just mentioned which I was totally okay with.

Jennifer Niven wrote the book through two points of views that alternate. The writing style was nice and easy to follow, although i must admit that sometimes i forgot who's point of view i was reading because the characters were always together, so i had to flip back the pages to the start of the chapter to check. I like how sarcastic Finch is even though he's suicidal and depressed. It shows that people who are depressed aren't just people who mope around all day and shut off 24/7. They can be the last people we would expect to go through dark times, because of the exterior they choose to show to the world. Even though sometimes I think he was being too overly depressed and I just wanted to knock his head and say "hellooo stop being so depressed", i guess it's good that he was being that way. We may think people are depressed unnecessarily and for stupid reasons, but reading ATBP I realised that people face depression for their own demons, and because they view the reasons personally, we can't just decide for ourselves whether the reasons they're feeling that way are legit or not.


I didn't particularly like Violet at first but as you discover more of her past, it gets easier to understand why she changed and why she really wants to help Finch through his problems in the end. I could totally picture Elle Fanning playing her character, but i couldn't imagine anyone in particular playing Finch. He was more of a blurred face for me, but i tried to imagine him as Grant Gust at times. I loved how Finch nicknames Violet as Ultraviolet Remarkey-able. SO CUTE. And i love how he sticks random notes of ideas onto his wall. I love that walk-in closet of his and the solar system he made in it and the new wall of thoughts. I was able to relate to the situation when he had a sudden spontaneous impulse to paint his room. I hope those random spurts of spontaneity at times, when i suddenly feel like something is becoming too ordinary or boring. Sometimes I need to have a small but noticeable change in my life.

The book has many interesting concepts that i was amused by. It's pretty filled with random facts like epitaphs and the Jovian-Plutonian gravitational effect(i googled it and yes it's real! A hoax, but still). The way Finch related it to how he felt about Violet, that was quite romantic.

I couldn't really buy the romance though, to be honest. It was too sudden. It's like Jennifer Niven just clicked her fingers and BAM they like each other. I guess the buildup wasn't enough for me. There weren't enough hints coming from Violet and after a while it seemed more of lust than love for me. Or maybe it was too deep i just couldn't reach it, again. I feel like it's The Fault in Our Stars again, where the teenagers think so much and so deep that it seems unrealistic, but maybe they're the exceptions. It was annoying how often they made out and did It though, or is it only me who feels that way?

I felt like the ending was too draggy, just like TFIOS again. I understand that it was for closure and i guess it's good to have closure for an unwanted death. I just sort of got bored once Finch disappeared and even more bored(though yes, a bit sad) when he died. I started getting more depressed when his body was found in the river and realising that he really did commit suicide in the end. It was just sad for a person who had so much, to still feel incomplete and empty until they're willing to explore the next world to escape to. Even the thought of his family, friends and love couldn't save him. I wish we had had a peek of his final thoughts. I didn't really like the treasure hunt thing after he died, because it was too much like John Green's Papertowns and I just realised i don't really like Papertowns.  Then when she found the letter it was too much like TFIOS, where i had high expectations for the content but it was left disappointed. Ah well.


All in all, i think many other people would enjoy this book more than i did. I will still go and watch the movie, which i hope will impress me more than the book did. Personally, i did get to relate to some of the depression experienced in the book, but probably not to a high degree. I think it's normal for people my age to be depressed at certain times, which i guess is why the book would be aimed at young adults. It's a great book for reflection, no doubt. After reading it you would probably want to read something happy though, like how i decided to read Anna and the French Kiss. Happy reading!


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2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge
Kamalia has read 15 books toward her goal of 50 books.