“We are all alone, trapped in these bodies and our own minds, and whatever company we have in this life is only fleeting and superficial.”
I’m pretty cautious when it comes to contemporary works. Not because this genre is bad but because it’s normally just not my kind of book. Nonetheless I’ve read some works and when I stumbled over All The Bright Places, I wasn’t quite sure whether to read it or not. Also there was a lot of hype concerning the book which also made me think about reading it. The reviews I saw were mixed but since the better ones seemed to be predominant I gave it a try. The book was often compared to The Fault In Our Stars by John Green – this work is even mentioned on the edition I own – and I have to agree considering some points. From time to time it felt like a re-read BUT I still enjoyed reading All The Bright Places and I want to tell you why.
The book is written from two points of view – Finch and Violet – and Jennifer Niven manages well with doing that. The emotions coming from the two main characters in their own chapters are different from one another and you can feel the change between the chapters – if you know what I mean. While both of the characters have similarities – both are described as quirky but have to deal with their own demons – they are nothing alike. Where Finch is open and extrovert – at least in some of his made-up and mood-based personalities – Violet is shy and reserved. At least, that’s how it seems to be. At the beginning both of them aren’t close to each other. While Finch falls real fast for Violet, the latter seems to be distressed by him at first. But the romance between develops sooner or later. Violet has a great development for herself – even though it’s happening step by step. She learns to love the real Finch no matter how many different personalities he creates. Personally I don’t think that the love story is fast paced considering that the book happens over some months time. I’m actually not the romance type of girl, but to read about Violet and Finch was calming in a unique way and I actually enjoyed the story throughout. The end might be some kind of predictable if you’re familiar with this genre, but it still grabbed me nonetheless.
But where there is light there is also shadow. There are some things in this books that might not be perfect. I’ve read many reviews that were quite upset with how mental illnesses were described and threated from Niven. First of all I need to say that I have never encountered a mental illness myself so I’m probably not the right person to talk about this. Still, I think that those are getting way too little attention since it matter of fact is a form of illness – whether you can see it or not. So the thing is – I don’t know how a mental illness feels or how to deal with it. But after reading many reviews and the novel, I might understand a bit. It seems that the author romanticizes the problems the characters have to deal with. Yes, when I read the book, I wasn’t really concerned with the occurring mental problems both Violet and Finch had to deal with. That is not because I willingly ignored them, but because the possible dangers where not that understandable. Not for someone who doesn’t know how to deal with or even see the signs of them. I wouldn’t go as far to say that this book glorifies suicide – it’s romanticizing it. So let me tell you from the bottom of my heart – if you have to deal with a mental illness and think that All The Bright Places is a horrible book concerning this topic, I am deeply sorry for that.
As I said before, I don’t know this feeling and I think I can’t relate to anyone who does. But besides the problematic portrayal of mental illnesses and suicide I really enjoyed reading the book. I liked the characters in their own special way and the developing romance – even if this genre is normally not what I read.
If you’re into beautifully written romances with characters that have to deal with their – in a personal way – more or less relatable problems than you should give All The Bright Places a try. But if you think that mental illnesses are threated wrong in most books, maybe you shouldn’t read it. This is because I don’t want you hate an author that is able to create a wonderful world but even more because I don’t want you to be hurt. Stay strong.