*Since this is a YA book this review is brought to you by MEMES!*
I remember about five years back the majority of my reading was YA Fiction and Fantasy. This was when Hunger Games was at its peak and I couldn’t get enough. My interest started to wean when every book felt the same as the last. Maybe I’m just getting too old for YA?
I have to give All the Bright Places some props for their beginning. Not every YA book begins with our destined lovers, Finch and Violet, meeting atop the school bell tower as both contemplate jumping. Finch helps Violet to safely and they both become the talk of the school. An unusual and interesting meeting, to say the least. And then they get paired up for a project to venture across the awesomeness that is… Indiana.
Anyways… as our duo tear across the countryside, we start to see what lead them to the bell tower.
Violet is haunted by a tragic loss that has stalled her life. Months have past, but the pain is still fresh and it drives her to this desperate moment. Violet’s quiet desperation hit me hard early on. My heart broke as she pretended to continue life when in her heart she couldn’t. I appreciate that Violet doesn’t fall in ‘insta-love’ with Finch. At first she’s confused by his antics and whimsy and doesn’t start falling for him until she gets a clearer picture of who Finch is.
And who is Finch? At first he seems like a suicidal Jessica Day, what with all his quirks and obsession with death and all.
Because of this it would be easy to push Finch aside as a character. “Oh, he’s just the male version of the manic pixie girl”, you might say. Finch might seem like this at first, but he’s a character who is fighting constantly to keep himself present and ‘awake’. In All the Bright Places the struggle against mental illness is real and present. It’s a much needed discussion, especially among teenagers. I’ll just let this quote from Finch simmer with ya for a bit:
It’s like my brain is firing so fast that it can’t keep up with itself. Words. Colors. Sounds. Sometimes everything else fades into the background and all I’m left with is sound. I can hear everything, but not just hear – I can feel it too. But then it can come on all at once – the sounds turn into light, and the light goes too bright, and it’s like it’s slicing me in two, and then comes the headache. But it’s not just a headache I feel, I can see it, like it’s made up millions colors, all of them blinding. (pg.139)
For the first 100 pages I really thought I was going to give this book two/three stars but the last two hundred pages with Finch and Violet really changed my mind. Don’t get me wrong, there are still flaws, but the emotional weight after the first section trumps them. Not only did I care about Violet and Finch as a couple but I probably cared more for them as individuals. Both are trying to fight to the surface and not lose themselves. There are so few YA books that make me stop and really process what is happening to a character. So this is why I gave All the Bright Places four stars.
Also because of this:
Score: Seven Bright Stars for Finch & Violent
In The Margins:
- After you read the book check out the note from Jennifer Niven in the back. She discusses why she wrote the book and it’s quite fascinating.
- The movie is coming out next year and Elle Fanning has been casted as Violet. Not what I envisioned but we’ll see how that goes.
- Next week: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle