All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Reviewed by Nikki
In this wondrous y/a fiction, Jennifer Niven fits longing, sadness, joy, and curiosity into 388 pages of euphoria for the mind. This is a story about a girl who is trying to find her place and a boy who, while losing himself, helps her do it. In a quaint town inside of Indiana, Violet, a 16 year old still reeling in the aftermath of tragedy, meets Finch, a boy who fades in and out of reality. Together they wander through the year, learning about themselves and each other. All The Bright Places emphasizes that no matter how much you care for a person, you cannot always save them; this book stays true to that message on multiple occasions, leaving the reader wanting answers. The novel was unique and phenomenal, but held flaws that hurt the whole of the story.
All The Bright Places followed the basic flow of exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. This constituted of boy meets girl, and while dealing with mental illness and loss, falling in love. The book is written through Violet and Finch’s perspectives, showing their individual takes on life and everything happening around them. The author drew on her own life experiences while writing this book, using it as an outlet for her emotions and creating an easier connection to the characters than in other situations. ATBP takes a bold move dealing with mental illness, something that makes it unique off the bat, but the fact that this y/a novel was written by someone who was not dealing with those conditions, creates a somewhat incorrect portrayal of the characters. Written in just six weeks, the attention to detail put into this book is astounding, but if only it was set down and the reread after a moments pause, there could have been an even better end result.
Basing many aspects off of Dr. Seuss’s Oh The Places You’ll Go, left a pit feeling of
nostalgia, and a new drive to step into the world looking for adventure. The exploring done by Violet and Finch throughout the novel lead to one word, wanderlust, and that word will be with you once you read it too. All The Bright Places is one of those books you don’t put down, forgetting everything else until it ends. It’s riddled with quotes that can be used without context from the book, making it all the more memorable as time goes by. As something meant to relate to this generations group of teenagers, a quote like, “Stars in the sky, stars on the ground. It’s hard to tell where the sky ends and the earth begins. I feel the need to say something grand and poetic, but the only thing I come up with is ‘It’s lovely’”, really paraphrases the way many feel, and puts the book closer to your heart.
This book took rank at #2 out of my favorite novels, not only because of the story, but the language and creativity put into each page. Locations such as The Blue Hole and Hosier Hill have taken up a space in my heart, and there will always be longing to visit them after reading this book. I give it an 8 out of 10 because it’s intoxicating and days after reading you will still be thinking about it, but if only a few tweaks were made it would have received a higher score. No matter how close to a cliché All The Bright Places is, the constant exploration of life against death and the many references to poets such as Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway, makes it a must read that will leave you with a new view of the world.