This was truly one of the best books I’ve read this year so far; it was enticing, romantic and just a pleasure to read. ‘All The Bright Places’, written by Jennifer Niven, is a teenage love story which starts with the main protagonist, Theodore Finch (often referred to as Finch), who is ready to jump off of his school bell tower to his death, until he spots Violet Markey on the opposite side of the tower ready to do the same thing. The story follows their journey to friendship, ultimately resulting in them falling head over heals in love with one another.
One of the main reasons I loved this story was that it reminded me of what its like to be in love as a teenager; the infatuation, the constant of thinking someone, the pain to be away from that special person, and not stopping until you get the one you want. Finch’s desire to win over Violet was probably my favourite element of the book, as well as Violet’s desire to find Finch towards the end.
I loved how the book was really focused on mental health, and how Finch’s condition (whatever that may have been) was not viewed in a negative light. Sure his classmates call Finch a ‘freak’ but they do not truly realise Finch’s mental incapabilities. I also love how Violet is somewhat aware of Finch’s condition, and still loves him regardless of this. This may be false, but I am just in love with Violet’s love for Finch overall.
Finch was definitely my favourite character of the book, and I could write for hours the reason why I loved him so much. He was charming, quick witted, thoughtful, spontaneous, and in my head, very very good looking. Despite his mental condition, he was always there for Violet, and was ultimately the one who helped her overcome the death of her sister; she hadn’t stepped one foot in a car for almost 9 months before Finch came along. I also adored the fact that Finch tried his absolute hardest not to respond to the abuse others showered him in, but also stuck up for himself where necessary. For me, Finch was the perfect male protagonist.
Violet Markey wasn’t really what I was expecting the main female character to be in this book. She was a truly damaged young girl after the death of her sister Eleanor, and Finch was just what she needed to get herself back on her feet; almost like the perfect medicine.
Although I enjoyed reading this book thoroughly, I was disappointed and confused by some aspects of the plot. Firstly, Finch’s mental health condition was never explained, and there was not much description of his back story; there could have been factors as to why Finch wanted to kill himself, but I felt as if we were only provided with the basic facts.
Also, I was extremely confused as to why Finch eventually killed himself; one day he just decided he wasn’t going to make any contact with the girl he loved and run away without telling anybody? Okay, I understand they had a fight, and this may have been hard for Finch to deal with due to his mental incapabilities, but for me this was certainly not a valid enough reason to kill himself. I also felt that this event happened all too quickly, and a lot more description could have been embedded of Finch’s internal thought process at the time, to help the reader understand what he could have possibly been going through.
Overall, this book was a pleasure to read. I am a sucker for a teenage romance novel, and this is definitely up there in one of my favourites. It reminded me so much of John Green’s The Fault In Out Stars, which was also another novel I loved (and read multiple times). I hope that Niven writes a sequel to All The Bright Places, maybe to tell the story of what happens to Violet in the future.