Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

Hardcover, 384 pages

Expected publication: January 6th 2015 by Knopf

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Knopf via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  THANK YOU!  The expected publication date is January 6th 2014.

I have to be honest that I was skeptical about this read before starting it.  The blurb compares it to some heavy weight books by heavy weight authors in this genre who have had a lot of media attention in the last year.  I felt that this could be a disservice to the book as it would raise expectations that may be hard to meet.  Needless to say that there was no fear in that as I absolutely adored this book (although I stand by my thoughts about the risk of comparing it to other blockbuster books).

No matter what I write down on this page I will not be able to do this story justice.  I will not capture the humour, the love, the emotions or the tears so I wont try.  Instead you are stuck with my measly attempt to form some kind of thought.  Here goes nothing....

Every so often a character comes along that you just fall in love with.  While you can't completely pinpoint the reason why, you just know that this character will stick with you and you will remember them long after you have moved on to the next 500 books and characters.  This was Finch for me.  His seize the day attitude had me from the very beginning when he spoke his first words to Violet.  Although he was dealing with some very dark issues his approach to life was completely refreshing.  How he said what he wanted, acted the way he wanted and continually reinvented himself was so overwhelmingly charming that I found myself constantly smiling.  His attributes that resulted in him being labeled as a "freak" are the same ones I repeatedly fell in love with. He has made my top five list of all time favorite book characters.

Although not as charismatic as Finch, Violet held her own in the story.  She was essentially a nice girl who was drowning in grief and needed to find her way again.  The way she never looked at Finch with the same eyes that her friends did was endearing.

Put these two together and I was lost.  The concept of them "wandering" for a school project was as unique as the characters.  With Finch's outlook of living for today their adventures were amusing and heart warming.  Their exchanges on Facebook were relevant with today's times and the messages completely sweet.

I will stop here.  I think you get the picture as I seem to be gushing a little bit here.  To me this is one of the best YA books that I have had the luxury to read.  I laughed out loud in one moment and shed tears like a blubbering idiot in another.  This was simply a beautiful story about two people dealing with dark issues who ultimately save each other.  I say just go out and read it now.

On a side note:  My fifteen year old niece usually recommends to me what novel to read in this genre.  This time I get to recommend one to her that I know she will love and will resonate with her demographic.  I predict great things with this novel.  I see it is already slated to become a movie...I am not surprised.

About the Author     

From her Goodreads profile

By the time I was ten, I had already written numerous songs, a poem for Parker Stevenson ("If there were a Miss America for men, You would surely win"), two autobiographies (All About Me and My Life in Indiana: I Will Never Be Happy Again), a Christmas story, several picture books (which I illustrated myself) featuring the Doodle Bugs from Outer Space, a play about Laura Ingalls Wilder's sister entitled Blindness Strikes Mary, a series of prison mysteries, a collection of short stories featuring me as the main character (an internationally famous rock star detective), and a partially finished novel about Vietnam. I was also an excellent speller from a very early age.

In 2000, I started writing full-time, and I haven't stopped... I've written eight books (two of those are forthcoming), and when I'm not working on the ninth, I'm contributing to my web magazine, Germ (www.germmagazine.com), thinking up new books, and dabbling in TV. I am always writing.

Twitter:  Jennifer Niven

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