Hello Everyone! Welcome back to my blog, if you’re a first-timer then welcome in general! Today I’ll be updating you on how my 2019 reading challenge is going. I’ll be honest, February has been a slow month reading-wise! I’ve only managed to finish 1 book this month and I think the reasons being are that February is a shorter month anyway so technically there’s not as much time to read, I took a short break to London last weekend to see Waitress the Musical (Part 1 of my Christmas present from Lee) My review of the show can be found here and my last and main reason is that the second book I started reading this month is a hardback and I always find these a struggle!
For anyone that knows me, you’ll know that I really hate Hardback books. I just don’t get on with them, you can’t get comfy with them because they’re so big and bulky and they really put me off trying to read them. Unfortunately, most books are released in hardback and only come out in paperback around a year later so unless I can be really patient and wait for the paperback, I tend to end up having to buy the HB! Anyway, onto what I’ve read this month…
All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven
Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Romance
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 am a member of a really great book group on Facebook and after finishing my last book, I put a post up on the group asking what I should read next based on my ‘to-read’ pile. The majority vote fell on ‘All The Bright Places’ by Jennifer Niven and I had originally heard a lot of people saying how amazing this book was. Upon finishing it, I’ll be honest it left me really confused and I don’t know what to think of it…
A lot of the blurbs etc and even the one on the back of the book says how Theodore Finch wants to kill himself, but for the most part of the story as far as I could tell, Finch doesn’t actually want to die, he just has a fascination with thinking “what if” he did try. I also didn’t have a clue what they were talking about to begin with when he spoke about the “asleep” and the “awake” (I assumed this is supposed to signify his depression/bipolar?) This was never fully explained either. Was he depressed or was he bipolar or both? The idea of him being Bipolar was only mentioned twice in the book and only ever insinuated that he might have it for a single sentence and then the subject was changed.
There was so much left unsaid and unanswered, I am entirely confused. I felt like the book was really trying to romanticise mental illnesses which I think is a pretty dangerous thing to do. Someone in a review I read after finishing the book described it as being as though the characters weren’t people but mental illnesses put into bodies and, I kind of agree. It was like the book was trying too hard to relate to young people but in all the wrong ways. Yes, mental illness is a common thing in young adults and teenagers nowadays, but I felt like the book was trying to make them cool, like if you don’t have a mental health issue, you can’t be part of this unique and exclusive little gang of Finch and Violet because you cannot possibly understand what they are going through. I don’t know, just seemed a bit heavy on the metaphors to me, again, like it was trying too hard to be relatable.
As someone who does suffer from Anxiety, for me, it was a little insulting to read some of the reviews on Goodreads from people who genuinely don’t understand the mental illnesses that Finch and Violet experience and wrote about them thinking it was cute and quirky. It also annoyed me that nobody in the book took Finch and Violet’s problems seriously, like none of the adults did anything to try and help them. I don’t know, it just seemed like the whole book was written purely for the sake of having characters with mental illnesses, not to establish a background for each of the characters or for the reader to get to know them.
Also, the relationship between Finch and Violet was non-existent one minute and then fully fledged the next, all very confusing. It seemed as if Finch went from 0-100 real quick as soon as he decided he liked Violet and became almost stalker-ish which was a little odd. It also felt as if he was only interested in her because her sister had recently died and now she was mysterious and distant and had some dark past like he did. I didn’t feel as if the romance bloomed enough, again it felt like it just suddenly appeared? I just found it confusing and the ending was a little disappointing yet totally predictable at the same time. I don’t know if it was just a way of saying that no matter how much you think you know and understand someone, maybe you really don’t? Or whether it was just another confusing plot twist. In the end, the characters just became their mental illnesses and it was really disappointing to see that rather than trying to show that there is so much more to a person than their problems.
Personally, for me, the book did not live up to the hype that been built up around it. I will say, I didn’t find it difficult to read, it was super easy and I read it in about 3 days, but I just don’t feel like I enjoyed it at all, It left me confused!