Today's review is a book that's been on my "want to read list" for a very, very long time now. I've heard a lot about it, I've heard bad things about it and good ones but I can only say that this is the best book I've read so far in 2017. And I will try to convince each and every one of you to pick up this book because it is... stunning, and that doesn't even do justice! All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. I don't even know if I'll be able to write this review the way I want to, it's just so good and so emotional that I'm at loss for the perfect words.
Violet and Finch meet on the ledge of the bell tower. Both desperately trying to find a way to live and to feel awake after all that has happened to them. When Finch, the school freak, eventually tries to make Violet feel better, Violet starts to open her eyes to all that's around her and who she really is. She's finally beginning to see what life is about and how to start living again, after that one tragic night, together with the help of Finch. All the while, Finch is slipping further and further away but will anyone notice before it's too late?
First of all, I want to make this clear: this is so not close to The Fault in Our Stars?! I see everyone rating this book bad because it's like that book but if I can say one thing: it's not. I feel like both this stories cover maybe one thing together: how to live. Other than that I feel like these two don't even come close to each other. I'm not trying to say that TFIOS is a bad book or movie, in fact I really enjoyed the story! However I need to be honest and All the Bright Places really tore at me 5 times more and 5 times better than The Fault in Our Stars ever will, and that's okay. I just wish people could also try not to see this book as a copycat because it really is not. It's different and original, it's breathtaking and heartbreaking and I loved every word, every letter in this book. This is me trying to convince you to not write this book off just by hearing it's all the way TFIOS because it's not.
Let's start with Theodore Finch, the first thing I noticed is that everyone uses Finch. Finch, I was really satisfied with that because for once they didn't make use of his first name but his last. That is when people call him by his name at all because he's seen as the school freak. It's very clear from the first page he comes in that something is wrong with him, mentally. Even though something is up, he's still there for others as well, mostly for Violet who is on top of the bell tower with him. What surprised me most was the fact that Finch had been written like this. At some points in the books, he felt very closed off from everyone, and he makes it very clear by his thoughts that he feels surrounded but alone. Yet the author still really used this character as a very supporting, nice boy that sometimes loses it but also seems happy and not alone.
I fell in love with this character for his thoughts and his remarks on certain ways to die and on people who have died, but also on the living. If we know one thing for sure it's that Finch has a hard time believing he can live. We don't know what made him think like that, we only see fragments during the book but the readers will never be able to pinpoint the exact thing that made him feel like this. And that's something I absolutely worship in this book: the unknown by Theodore Finch. What surprised me even more was the fact that even though he has a hard time staying awake, that's how he refers to stay by the living, he doesn't have a hard time showing others how to live. That's yet another thing that really surprised me by this character: he pushes people to live and to find something worth in life but he can't do that for himself and he can't find a way for himself. It's as if he doesn't know he has a choice too and that's something I know a lot of readers will be able to relate to.
Finch really opened my eyes during this read about how wrong we can be. He looks fine and happy, he knows how to live or he wouldn't share that knowledge with the other characters... yet he isn't real. He feels so much things that don't even come close to happy and he's suffocated in his own mind and consumed by it. He just doesn't show and that's why people don't know. And even if they did know, people wouldn't help him because he's the freak. The more they see him that way, the more I also felt like the author tried to reflect he starts believing it's his fault and that he shouldn't tell anyone something because it's his own problems. Finch is the character I know a lot of readers will be able to relate to, be it to a little extent or to his whole personality. And knowing that, it's very hard because that means a lot of people are in need of help, just like Theodore Finch is.
I'm also really happy that the author chose to pick a boy for this role, because I feel like some people only see girls capable of these deep emotions and also capable of thinking about suicide in these hard times. The author really showed how boys can feel this too and that they're capable of suicide as well, we don't need to underestimate the fact that they're in need of help too. Finch absolutely showed that very well during the story, he was absolutely well written!
Next to Finch on the ledge of the bell tower, we find Violet. Violet has put a stop on her life because she doesn't know how to go on after that one tragic night. Whatever that tragic night is, is something for you to find out! It's been a few months now but Violet has been having a very hard time with finding how to live and how to be happy again. It's because of Finch that she starts to explore and starts to find out what that night meant for others and what it meant to her. Violet goes through a very eyeopening phase during this book, where she doesn't only find out how to live again but also finds out who she is and how she's going to be in the future. Seeing what help does to a person has been really well shown on character Violet who finally finds the light in the dark tunnel and that all because of Finch. Violet is a very smart person and she's a very tender one which I absolutely found lovely in this character. But beware because she's not like most people, she can see through the masks people put on sooner or later...
Both of them have issues that really affect their mental state but the author also showed a really big contrast in their problems, in the way it affects them, how much it affects them and what it means to get help or find help. Both will go through such a hard time and some know they have support while others doubt they can stay very long on this earth and I absolutely appreciated that the author used these contrasts because it shows there are various things to take into account and various things, be it little or big things, that can affect someone's happiness and affect the way they look at their lives.
However, this is not a book that only talks about depressing stuff, of course it's important as this will have major effects on the plot and the characters, but there's always a bright side in this story. Here the two characters might have big contrasts, but it's true what they say: opposites attract each other. During the book we will see major differences in their family and private life which will also bring these characters together. Not only that brings them together but also the project they get from US Geography.
This event was something I really found myself enjoying because I wish I did what the characters did. Their project means they need to wander around Indiana and found beautiful things in it and document it. Finch wants to do the project with Violet to make her see that life is beautiful and that she needs to find a way to live in it and to be happy again. This really brought the characters together in a very stunning friendship about hope, rediscovering, support and love. I absolutely rooted for these two as they were so realistically written but also so relatable and stunning!
Now the plot, as I mentioned before with the characters everything is very realistic. This book felt so real for me, as if I was a part from it or as if it was really happening. The characters are copy pasted on a school scenery where it is as we all might know it: hard. School, especially high school brings a lot of problems for a lot of teenagers in the real world and Jennifer Niven tried to picture that and give us that on a golden plate. Boy, do I have to say she did a remarkable job? As already mentioned, Finch is called the freak which really shows us once again how much we label during our high school time. Violet is seen as the popular girl that dates with Ryan Cross... the Ryan Cross and so it goes on for every and each character that we come across. It's the labeling that makes it also very hard on one of the characters in All the Bright Places and something some readers will find very relatable once again.
The reaction of the other teenagers when Finch the school freak wants to do the project with Violet will also really be taken under a loop. They'll start teasing Violet about "the freak", they'll be fighting and trying to make Finch go away from Violet by hurting him in any way possible. I don't need to tell you guys that this is reality for some teenagers out there: the labeling, the bullying and the author did a great job on showing us that in the book and also showing how that can affect ones mind and attitude. The school situation will really be taken seriously and will contribute to the story and how it develops.
Another side in the book will be about the home situation in both families, Finch's and Violet's. Also this will really contribute to the development of the events. It also really shows once again how different both characters are and how their families are affected by what's happening or by the signs their kids are giving them. This is yet another thing I really found interesting to see because also here the writer has picked out two contrasts out of the variety of parents that exist. I'm also really pleased to see how big the difference is as we have two complete opposites in it. Both families will also be seen during the read and that only helps the reader more to understand why Finch feels the way he feels.
Next to these two factors we'll be falling into a story about finding love and life and be happy again by wandering around with someone who cares. The characters really make it something beautiful to witness as they go everywhere and anywhere to find something worth breathing for. They'll have so much fun and when they're finally getting used to each other, we'll fall into a routine of happiness and constant laughter which I found amazing to witness and to be a part of. Of course that will be broken by school events and private things that can get in the way but that's also something that makes it realistic. It's what life is about: the constant processing of going to school, going home, doing something with a friend and through it all find out who you are and what you want. Above that it also made sure that the readers stayed interested and focused on what was right in front of their eyes all the time...
The author doesn't only do smooth sailing, she decided to really give all readers a chill, by changing everything and making it harder and harder to see something good. It's not something I had seen coming and it really took my be surprise. Thinking about it now it was very refreshing to read, something none of my books did before and it also really took me. I felt so much with the characters, with the plot, it was all so raw and unbelievable that it made the story so stunning.
What happened is something for you to find out and all I can say is that it really opened my eyes toward people who felt like our characters did and how hurting fits into our society in the real world. Reactions that will follow by characters were really mind blowing and some even felt wrong and I really loved it that the book made me feel like this and made me think about this. It has a very great moral and really makes you feel what others might be feeling now in this instant, you're only touching the tip of the iceberg but at least we got a better view on it and we know how far it can go. It also showed that you should help when you can and not label or ignore it because that doesn't make it any easier for anyone. This was also shown in the book, through the plot and I really appreciated the thought the author put into this book.
What I also am at loss for words for is the fact that we don't know why Finch is feeling the way he is, I already said it before but I really want to point it out once again. We know why Violet is feeling the way she feels and that's great but I think it's also very relatable for readers not to know what's going on with someone. This someone being Finch in All the Bright Places. I feel like I like that fact, that we don't know everything about why it made him feel this way because either way he didn't know himself or he didn't know how to explain and I don't know but that just makes me love this character so much more. The unknown and the uncertainty made this character so interesting and lovable in the plot.
All books that contain hard things like mental illnesses, sicknesses and suicide are eyeopening and believe me, this book was one of those books as well. The characters are so beautifully written and when they finally find each other you thought things would only go well and get better but that's not how it goes for people who aren't feeling well, same with our characters. The author still made it really interesting by giving plot twists, harder moments and happy moments to recover from all that has happened before. To finish it off, she packed the book up with the greatest moral of all and sprinkled emotions (believe me, be ready for a lot of emotions in here) on top of it. This book, and I really kid you not, is emotional so start buying tissues and stock them up because you'll need them. I swear it to you.
Lastly I want to point out that this book is becoming a movie! Yes it's becoming a movie and just thinking about that would make me cry all over again. I'm not lying. Also to everyone who feels that they can relate so much to these characters please, if you're in need of help, you need to go on and tell people you need help. It's not a shame to feel this way, and it's not a shame to ask for help because we want to help you. You can be our Violet and we can be your Finch, let's show you that life can be beautiful. We all need some help from time to time! That's another thing this book really pointed out for everyone to read: help one another.
This book contains so much reality, so many emotions that I absolutely felt real while reading it. The author build the story up so well and the characters were absolutely stunningly written and brought to a scenery of high school and it's problems. The relationship that's being build between our two main characters was really beautiful to witness and I was -am- so at loss for words for it, and for all that has happened in the book. The plot is so well thought of and the reactions that'll follow in the book seem so realistic to me that I cried the last 120 pages as if my life depended on it. This book is emotional and heartbreaking but it's so, so beautiful with such a beautiful message. I really recommend this book and I absolutely hope you can see why I can't explain myself any better... I'm at loss for words, this was by far the best read of 2017.
“You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.”