Hello and happy Wednesday. I remember listening to a review of All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven in which the person said that they hadn’t loved it as much as everyone else did, or really at all. This was actually the first time I’d heard something concrete about the book, considering that I got it a few years ago because of all the hype it’d gotten. We all know, however, that people don’t always tell us much about the hyped book other than we should read it and that’s it. As you can probably tell by my recent reads, I am going through the books I own that won the Goodreads Awards or whatever, starting in 2015. This is one of those books, and though I can see why it was one of the winners, it didn’t do it for me.
I read this book between July 30th and August 3rd, 2019 and gave it three stars. Some might say this is a low rating but lately, I’ve been giving more and more books three stars because I think it represents my feelings towards stories that were just “okay” or “fine,” like this one. Of course, there are elements I’m into, like the multiple perspectives, because I think they always add a lot to a story that would otherwise seem incomplete, in my opinion.
Right off the bat, let me tell you that this book deals with suicide and this is a constant throughout the plot, so if you are sensitive to this topic, or to topics related to suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts, steer clear. We have two main characters who are very different to each other, but who meet in a tower at school and who, as far as we can gather, go there with the intention of jumping off. Again, suicide is a recurring topic and I personally think that it could’ve been handled way better than it was, but we’ll get to that later.
It bothers me that authors make dumb decisions just because that’s how they think their characters think. For instance, I thought the comments the guy main character made about the female students’ bodies were completely unnecessary. That stuff adds absolutely nothing to the plot and just makes readers not connect as much with the characters. On the flip side, I really liked how each of the characters was portrayed. They were so unique, and I know that’s no easy feat for an author to accomplish.
Finch, the male main character, is very unique, and you need to read the book to understand why. I don’t know if his representation is accurate or not, but I had never read a book about a character who’s been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I don’t know if this is a spoiler, but I think it’s better to say it before you read it because I think that if the rep is not accurate, it might be harmful to some readers. Finch is sometimes very pushy and he doesn’t understand when someone is saying “no.” Here’s where I’d like to know if this behavior could be considered representative for a person with bipolar disorder, or it’s just a stereotype or a trait that is not accurate. We all know that the conversation on consent must go beyond sex because one person should never force another one to do anything, especially after being told “no.”
There’s some conversation regarding the stigma around mental illness, which I appreciate, but considering that this is a predominant issue in this novel, I think it fell short. I mean, Violet’s (the main character’s) sister died in a car accident and nobody seems to notice how much she’s hurting because of that. There is also a mention of an eating disorder, but from what I gathered, it is only present once. If you are sensitive to this issue, you might want someone you know and trust to read this book before you and either tell you which part you should skip or maybe advice you on reading it or not.
I’m starting to increasingly see the class-assignment trope. I think, again, that the author of this book did a good job with it and the way the story was built around the assignment the main characters had to do together. I also liked that she included flashbacks and flash-forwards as well as inserts of text messages because by this point we all know that I’m a sucker for that.
Now, remember when I said we’d go back to talking about how suicide was handled? Okay, we’re back. I think suicide is one of those issues that I’d rather not see than see being poorly handled because of the dangers it entails. For example, describing ways in which a person has attempted or thought about suicide is extremely dangerous and it is present in this book.
The picture of this book is one of my most-liked pictures on Instagram, and I even got comments of people saying I’d cry reading this. I get why some readers might be affected by this, but I wasn’t. I just don’t see the purpose of this book, if I’m being honest, especially not the ending. The ending was what ruined the story for me, and because of it, this book didn’t get four stars but three. If you read it, you’ll know why.
What is a topic that’s trending right now on books that you don’t like reading about? Let me know in the comments.
Love, Miss Camila