Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Publisher: Penguin (2015)
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.I do not normally take the time to review books I do not like, but I am going to make the exception for All the Bright Places because of my strong feelings regarding its content and because of the hype surrounding it at the moment.
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.
I did finish this, so this is not a review based on assumptions and impressions gained from the first 28 pages, unlike most of the negative reviews I see on the interwebs. I specifically finished it because I wanted to see if my suspicions regarding the plot were actually true.
I shall begin with the simple idea that this is both a bad and a good book. Makes no sense at first, so we will start with the good. Jennifer Niven is a talented writer. She knows her way around a sentence. She can construct good dialogue and writes decent descriptions. Had she tackled a lighter sort of novel, such as a fun romantic romp, I would have loved her, no questions asked.
She did not do this. Instead, she wanted to write the next Fault in Our Stars. But just take away the cancer and toss in suicide. Because, you know, suicide is just a great vehicle for a romantic novel. Not that cancer is much better, mind you. But there is something forgivable about TFIOS. It could be the fact that it made me weep like a baby. This book? Not so much.
Suicide was dealt with like a lighthearted joke. Let's make lighthearted fun of it, y'all! There was too much scrambling around witty banter and pseudo-quirky characters for my liking. Finch is not a character at all. He is a set of cliches which do not add up to form anyone of substance I actually gave half-a-crap about. He is not Augustus Waters.
Violet is a pathetic excuse for a human. If you are only going to start caring about your life because someone else is driving you do, then I am afraid I cannot give a damn about you either.
I also was pissed off with the ending. It is pure emotional manipulation for no gain at all.
Suicide. Clearly Jennifer Niven has no cooking clue about depression. Or the thought processes that drives one to even contemplate it. It all so trite and forced, I am still angry. I know depression. From a personal point of view as well as having people close to me go through it. I also understand the state of mind a person is in when they are considering killing themselves.
Without going into too much detail, I went through a bit of a rough patch in 2011. I felt my brain literally break as the antidepressants I was prescribed kick in. I remember rocking in the corner of my room, crying and panicking because, as it turns out, they can induce full on anxiety attacks before they do what they are supposed to do. And then there was the deadness. Walking around feeling wrapped in this bubble of absolute apathy. And making the conscious choice to go off the meds and live my life because anything was better than feeling dead inside.
I also recall moments pre-meds when I hated myself, hated life.
And then I made the choice to start living and growing as a person. This is a choice that I continue to consciously make almost four years later. Every new thing I do and try has been carefully considered. I walk my own path in life and I firmly believe that the only way to not feel that way again is to do what I damn well want to. Because depression sucks. It is awful. It eats you from the inside if you let it.
I love my life now. I am molding myself and my experiences into how I want them to be. "I am on a rollercoaster that only goes up, my friend." to quote Gus from TFIOS..
I have also seen the consequences where depression gets too much. I am lucky that I was present enough to kick ass and live my life.
And that is why this book made me angry and why I am writing this review. It read like utter nonsense. It felt like a silly excuse to make a quick buck of the success of a far superior book with little understanding and empathy. And tact. And the cliched events in the characters' lives. Abuse, death, family issues... how much can two people go through realistically?
Good lord, if you are going to write a book, do not think posting random links at the end means that your story is accurate and believable. Like OMG, if someone you, like, know is depressed or wants to die, call these numbers.
This is the last negative review I will write, because reading this was personal for me. I took her emotional manipulation for the sake of selling her story personally.