All the Bright Places — Jennifer Niven

February 8, 2017

When Finch and Violet meet one another on the ledge of their school’s bell tower, it’s a mystery who saves who; though Finch talks Violet down, she can’t be seen as “the girl who almost jumped after her sister died”, so Finch takes the fall, and Violet is a hero. It doesn’t matter to Finch, though; he’s met the first person he can relate to in a long time, and now he’s determined not to let her go. A school project brings them together: a task to wander their home state of Indiana, to find all of its Hoosier Wonders. As Violet begins to heal, though, Finch finds himself torn between the joy of puppy love, or the ache of the storm inside his own head.

I picked this book up expecting greatness after hearing endless great reviews and promises that it would make me cry, but unfortunately, I spent most of the book being annoyed by Violet’s attitude, and irked by the total lack of real attachment between the writing itself and the events that unfold.

Terrible events occur throughout the course of the book that feel like the author has simply deposited them into the reader’s lap and kept walking. I never was able to feel enough of a connection to love any characters, or to laugh, or to grieve, and when I reached the author’s note at the end, I was honestly stunned that Niven had experience with the contents of the book, because the emotions portrayed felt so… lacking, and insincere. I hate to be harsh, but I’m the sort of reader who gets misty when the narrator remembers their family dog dying ten years prior – if I can make it through this book without as much as a sting in my eye, there’s something missing.

With my review on the writing itself aside, as I mentioned, Violet is frustrating for most of the book, as her narration proves her to be a fairly deep and empathetic person, but her actions suggest “basic high school mean girl” to a point, and that trope feels played out. Finch is sometimes delightful and witty, and many of his insights regarding his mental state were deep and easy to relate to, though it was hard to really buy into how quickly he fell for a girl he’d hardly spoken to before… and honestly, he’s downright stalkerish.

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  • Reply Jessica @ Strung out on Books July 1, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    I really enjoyed this book. I ended up staying up all night reading it but that was a few years ago. Not sure if my feelings would still be the same. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy it as much. Great review!

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries July 3, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! I definitely think it has a big audience of people who loved it; sadly, I just wasn’t in that audience. Oh well!

  • Reply T10T: Ten Books I Almost DNFed, But Didn’t – howling libraries September 5, 2017 at 12:17 am

    […] I honestly almost DNFed this book so many times because it absolutely infuriated me. I know it’s a fairly popular and widely loved book, but it isn’t for me at all, and I ended up regretting not DNFing it, because the ending had me LIVID! You can read my full review here. […]

  • Reply DISCUSSION: 2017’s Most Disappointing Reads – howling libraries December 28, 2017 at 11:00 am

    […] 10. All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven I know this one is controversial, and a lot of my friends adored it, but I felt like this book’s representation of mental illness was incredibly problematic, and on top of that, the writing was just very poor. I couldn’t bring myself to give any fucks at all about any of the characters, and I hated Violet’s attitude. She is such an incredibly unlikable love interest that I have no clue how I was ever intended to root for her. REVIEW […]

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