Monday, 26 October 2015

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven **Review**

All the Bright Places
Series: None
Pages: 388
Publisher: Penguin Books (UK)
Release date: 8th January 2015
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones

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Goodreads synopsis:
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.

I first read All the Bright Places at the beginning of this year, so this review is coming from having read it through for a second time. Although, obviously, my second reading felt a little different to the first (I remembered the story quite well), it was just as enjoyable, and just as devastating.

Even though I read the book when it was first released, at the beginning of the year, I knew immediately it would turn out to be one of my favourites of 2015, if not one of my favourites of all time.
I was gripped right from the very first chapter – Violet and Finch had wiggled their way into my heart in the first few pages, and not only did they stay there, their presence grew until I felt totally consumed by them. I can usually relate to characters fairly easily, but it’s rare for me to feel quite as attached to characters as I felt with Violet and Finch. I think that’s one of the things that make this story both so beautiful and so heart-breaking.

One of the other things that make this book so special is the way Jennifer has written their story. The language is so incredibly emotive, painting such an incredible picture without directly saying what the characters are feeling. This is especially true in Finch’s case; he always knows exactly the right thing to say, and exactly the right way to say. My favourite example of this is when he explains the Jovian-Plutonian effect (an April’s Fools prank by Sir Patrick Moore on The Sky at Night in 1976), just so he can tell her that she makes him feel like he’s floating. The explanation goes on for two pages, but it’s one of the most beautiful passages in the book. Serious goosebump-inducing stuff!

There are plenty of other wonderful moments to choose from in the book. I don’t want to give too many away, as I totally believe each reader should discover them for themselves, but one of mine includes bad words cut out of books and post-it notes inside a closet (or wardrobe, for us British readers!).

I loved these moments, descriptions and passages so much that I decided to mark my favourites out with page markers, and there are SO MANY of them in my copy now. Every now and then, I pick up my copy and flip to my favourite parts, or read them aloud to friends, just to relive them over and over. And my second reading has added many more markers to the pages.

I feel like to say that this book is a real emotional rollercoaster is a bit of a cliché, but I believe that clichés are born out of truths, and that is definitely this book’s truth. I don’t think I have ever felt so many totally different emotions in the space of 350(ish) pages before! I have laughed and cried, fallen in love and been so angry, had my heart broken and warmed.
And even on the second reading, none of these feelings were diminished; the only difference was that I knew what was coming and felt some of those emotions prematurely, before the emotional event had even taken place.

Reading All the Bright Places for the second time has absolutely cemented it as one of my absolute favourites. I can’t express enough how wonderful this book is and how much I think everyone should read it. Yes, it’s emotional, yes I felt broken after turning the final page (both times!), but it was definitely worth the journey, and it’s a journey I will be sure to take for a third, fourth and fifth time! Get yourself a box of Kleenex and a blanket and give it a read – I know you’ll fall in love with Violet and Finch too.


Linda Hill said...

I have to get this!

Dani Cotton said...

Yes! Please read it, Linda! It's a beautiful book that deserves all the love. x

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