Hey guys! I finished reading All The Bright Places (2015) by Jennifer Niven yesterday. It has taken me probably about two weeks to get through it because I have been a bit busy. I am starting a get a little stressed about my uni work as the end of the year is getting ever closer and I have four assignments to complete.
But, I have always thought all you can do is your best and take each day as it comes. I feel like to deal with pressure/stress, like when you have a lot to do, you just need to focus directly on each step as you take it, as opposed to looking ahead at the full journey and how far there is to go. So instead of thinking ‘aaaaah, I have four assignments to do,’ you just think ‘right, today I am going to do three pages of research for this essay and write 300 words for this feature article.’ And, whatever you do, don’t panic! It will not get you anywhere and anywhere is where you need to be right now.
Sorry, kind of side tracked there a little bit, sounds like I am trying to reassure myself. But, if any of you are feeling the pressure at the moment, I hope you find my advice helpful!
Now, in terms of books. I am going to have to promise myself not to start another book until all my work is done. This morning I had a thought: this is one month. One month and it determines what you get for the year overall. You. Need. To. Focus. So, anyhow, this might be my last book review for a few weeks. I hope it’s a good one, enjoy!
What is the book about?
Violet and Finch. And how their lives collide and are consequently changed as a result. Violent Markey (a.k.a. Ultraviolet Remarkey-able, as lovingly named by Finch) has lost her sister. Eleanor Markey died in a car accident while Violet survived in the passenger’s seat. She doesn’t know what her future will be, not without her best friend beside her. Finch is just trying to stay awake for as long as possible, trying to keep his mind away from the darkness, trying not to sink in quicksand. They meet on the top of the school bell tower and save each other’s lives. They embark on a passionate relationship where they each try and allow themselves to see what life has to offer them.
I really enjoyed Jennifer Niven’s style of writing. It actually reminded me a lot of some of the other contempory’s that I’ve read, most of all John Green. There were a lot of metaphorical/philosophical messages, the characters liked to quote famous poems and literature to each other and use it themselves to get through their struggles. It just reminded me of how Green uses these kinds of message, usually to enhance his characters and the relationship between them. Niven used them in much the same way.
I thought it was interesting to read from two different perspectives; the chapters switch between first-person Violet and first-person Finch. Although we never really see the same moment from both perspectives, I feel that Niven accurately and effectively chose which character should tell which part of the story (at least during parts where the characters were together). I think the split POV allows both characters equal space to develop. By the end of the book, we feel that we know them very well, which I always think is the most enjoyable aspect of reading the story.
I don’t know if it’s because I have had a lot of work to do, or whether my head was still stuck in the last book I read, but I actually took me quite a while to get into the flow of reading this book. I guess I didn’t really have an instant connection with the characters, but that doesn’t change how fully and interestingly they are portrayed.
Both Violet and Finch are not exactly happy when they meet. There are things in their lives they wish, more than anything, that they could change or take back. But I think that is the message this book provides, which is a really important message; bad things happen in life, things that aren’t easy to move on from, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find happiness again. Violet and Finch, perhaps drawn together by their mutual heartache, found happiness and fun and adventure in each other.
Finch is a very interesting character and I think Niven’s depiction of his mental illness is done well. The way she described his two states of mind as being ‘awake’ or ‘asleep,’ as falling back into the darkness after being in the light, as giving everything it takes not to drown in quicksand. It is very easy to understand how much Finch struggles with his illness and how much he tries to conceal it from everybody else, even Violet.
It took me a while to get to know the characters, and I first I couldn’t find anything that unique about Finch, but by the end it is clear he is a very memorable character. I love the sense of adventure he brings to the book, pulling Violet out of her unhappiness and taking her to wonderful places. It makes the end of the book all the more upsetting, because when Finch is ‘awake,’ he is on top of the world and so much brighter than anyone else.
Violet’s character arc is a smooth development from being a hurt young girl who is full of pain to someone who has learnt to love life again. It is such a heart-wrenching moment when you realise she will fall all the way back to where she started. However, I think the very last moments of the book provide some optimism and it is made clear that she will be okay.
I like the way Violet is interested in writing and creates her own website, after previously having made one with her sister. I do believe that website actually exists…wait, yes, here it is (Germ Magazine). I mean, how cool is that? Jennifer Niven actually created the website!
I love all the different places that Violet and Finch visiting as none of them are boring and they all bring a little something extra to the story. The way the two characters take in their surrounding and fully appreciated each small tourist point helps us understand them more as they develop.
My favourite places to which they wandered together are the mobile book store, where we see the way Finch treats the owner and see he really has a heart of gold all the way through, and the pond with the ‘black hole’ because it was just such an interesting image to picture in my mind. I saw the two of them diving up and down into the darkness.
I also like the places that Violet visits at the end; the painted ball, the shoe trees, the big screen and the church. It is such an interesting and moving way to finish the book and clarify everything we believe about the characters to be just so; that they are warm-hearted, strong and looking for a life where they feel complete and alive.
A heartbreakingly emotional book with important messages and strong characters. Also, it going to be a film starring Dakota Fanning, scheduled for release in 2017! I am so excited as I think it will make a wonderful, yet heart-breaking, film.
I am going to give this book 3/5 stars.
Let me know what your thoughts in the comments!